For many years, I was consumed by an inward emotional turbulence, continually feeling too emotional and off balance. Eventually, I started getting genuinely curious about why. Turns out that my inability to regulate my emotions was the key culprit. Learning emotional intelligence was a path for me to build skills and create inner peace. By learning basic EQ skills, I could surf and calm the emotional waves, gain self-understanding, replace my brutal inner critic with compassion, and regain my motor of joy. You can, too!
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
So, if you're saying to yourself, "I'm too emotional!" there IS a way to find your ground. Or if you're feeling overwhelmed with the loud, crashing waves of conflicting emotions inside you, you've come to the right place!
Mastering emotions is something that will change your life for the positive!
What Does It Mean to Feel Emotional Turbulence?
You may be familiar with inner emotional turbulence, but let's define it so we're on the same page.
It refers to a state of intense inner conflict and turmoil within an individual's emotional landscape. A person may experience a whirlwind of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, or frustration. Each emotion might pull them in different directions, dramatically challenging equilibrium and inner peace. It's like a chaotic storm where conflicting emotions, thoughts, and desires clash and often compete to be heard. It's as if the person is trapped in a flurry of emotions, struggling to find stability and clarity amidst the internal static.
People experiencing emotionally turbulent circumstances find it difficult to process their emotions effectively, especially if they don't know how!
This state can result in a constant inner struggle, where the mind and heart seem at odds with each other. Consequently, decision-making often becomes challenging and paralyzes a person preventing vital decisions. Daily functioning can be impaired, affecting relationships, work, and overall well-being. The experience can be profoundly distressing and exhausting, as individuals may feel isolated and unable to communicate the depth of their inner turmoil to others. When I was young, I tried to share with my friends but they told me to "lighten up" so that was the last time. I put on a happy face and pushed it all down for many years.
Developing coping strategies to find a healthier emotional balance is critical. And with mindfulness and self-reflection, individuals can work through their emotional conflicts, leading to personal growth, resilience, and a renewed sense of emotional stability.
Let's carve the way for you to calm the waves of emotional turbulence and create more happiness in your life!
Successfully Dealing with Inward Emotional Turbulence
When it comes to emotions, the starting place for all emotional intelligence is emotional awareness.
I knew nothing when I started on my personal growth journey about how to deal with my emotions. ZERO. Zip. Nada.
But now, joy and inner peace are my constant companions. (Sound too good to be true? Or maybe an impossibility? I get it. I never would have known it was possible either until I accomplished it.)
So when you're struggling with a turbulent feeling, such as anger, fear, or self-loathing, be encouraged that there is a path to the other side.
Most people don't cherish negative emotions—they resist them and try to push them down. However, until there is self-acceptance, there is no inner peace. As Deepak Chopra recommends, "Instead of resisting any emotion, the best way to dispel it is to enter it fully, embrace it and see through your resistance."
Therefore, the first step is awareness.
However, before we can be aware, it's essential to understand what emotions are. Many people have a misunderstanding about emotions, and there are plenty of myths surrounding them.
So, let's start off with a fact: emotions are our brain's way of processing, deriving meaning from our experiences—especially a painful experience—and guiding us to needed actions.
Imagine if you truly believed that feelings were there to tell you something important was happening. And to give you a road map!
Wouldn't that change the way you view your feelings?
This explanation may seem too simple or even too good to be true. I can still remember from years ago wanting NOT to feel, NOT be emotional, NOT be in emotional distress or have my husband tell me to shake my mood, but the harder I tried to shut my feelings down, the more emotional I got.
We resist their powerful truths until we accept our emotions as helpers, not inconvenient obstacles.
What Is Emotional Awareness?
Simply put, emotional awareness is the ability to notice.
It is a heightened observation and conscious recognition of a feeling within ourselves and others. Awareness is like holding up a mirror to your inner world and gently observing. This ability bridges our emotions and cognition, allowing us to identify, process, and express our emotional states constructively and adaptively.
Being emotionally aware enhances interpersonal relationships and greatly contributes to personal growth and mental well-being. Gracefully navigating our emotional landscape can lead to better decision-making, reduced stress, and overall resilience.
And in a world where EQ is increasingly recognized as being as vital as IQ, emotional awareness stands as its foundational pillar, guiding us toward a more authentic, connected, and fulfilling life.
As Psychologist John Gottman, Ph.D., said, "In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships."
Are you ready!?
Let's explore some keys to open those locked emotional doors.
How to Cultivate Inner Peace by Skillfully Navigating Our Emotions
First and foremost, taking responsibility for your feelings is imperative while NOT taking responsibility for others' feelings.
One of the biggest misconceptions is thinking that we are responsible for others' feelings. We are not. Caring for our own emotions is a big enough job; we don't need any additional pressure. We can empathize and care, but ultimately, another's feelings are not ours to change or fix.
Giving mindful attention to your emotional terrain will assist you in discovering insights into what motivates you and what unresolved pain may be inviting you to resolve and integrate for greater ease and freedom.
So, as we identify ways to enhance your emotional fitness, keep in mind: we are only focusing on YOU.
Related reading: "Inner Peace Requires You to Be Present to Self-Compassion."
EQ Skills to Empower You to Build a Healthy Relationship with Your Emotions
Below you'll find specific tools to help you connect with your emotions in a new and healthy way.
Pay mindful attention to your body.
Paying attention to our body signals provides a crucial pathway to better understanding and connecting with our emotions. Our bodies are remarkable messengers, constantly sending us signals in response to our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. By tuning into the physical sensation in the body, such as a sensation of tightness in the chest, butterflies in the stomach, or a lump in the throat, we can gain valuable insights into our emotional state.
This heightened perception will help release your pain and free you to recognize your ability to respond. Become aware; befriend these sensations and any physical discomfort. Treat them as precious stepping-stones to equanimity and inner peace.
For instance, when we feel a surge of anxiety, our heart rate may increase, and our muscles might tense up. Recognizing these physical cues allows us to identify and acknowledge the underlying emotions, helping us make sense of what we're truly feeling. When we heighten our self-awareness, it enables us to respond more effectively to our feelings, validating and processing them in a healthy manner.
As we learn to listen to our bodies with curiosity and compassion, we foster a deeper connection with ourselves, promoting emotional well-being and facilitating a more balanced and authentic approach to life's challenges.
Related reading: "Is the Body-Mind Connection Real?"
Practice emotional regulation.
Emotional regulation refers to the ability to effectively manage and modulate one's emotions in a healthy and adaptive manner. It involves being aware of one's feelings, understanding their underlying pain and causes, and choosing appropriate ways to express, cope with, and channel those emotions. Emotional regulation is fundamental to emotional intelligence, allowing individuals to navigate life's ups and downs with resilience and balance.
It does not mean suppressing emotions but instead finding constructive ways to process and express them, ensuring they don't overwhelm or hinder one's daily functioning and relationships. Knowing how to deal with our big feelings is crucial in keeping our balance in everyday life.
How to Regulate Emotions:
Regulating emotions requires practice and self-awareness. Here are some strategies to help foster emotional regulation:
- Self-awareness: Pay attention to your emotions without judgment. Observe your emotional state, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This awareness can help you identify triggers and understand the underlying causes of your emotions.
- Deep breathing: When feeling overwhelmed, practice deep breathing to calm the body's stress response and create space for clearer thinking. Deeper breathing signals the brain that you are safe and will engage your parasympathetic nervous system to help you calm.
- Identify the emotion: Science shows us that by identifying and naming an emotion, the intensity of the feeling will begin to dissipate. This practice can be potent in releasing emotional tension. If you're sad, say to yourself, "I feel sad." If you are experiencing feelings of anger, say or journal, "I feel angry." Once you've identified the emotions, next, list the reasons fueling the sentiment so that you have further actions to take to help regain your balance.
Choose a supportive activity.
Find healthy ways to express your emotions, such as talking to a friend, journaling, or engaging in creative activities. This choice can prevent energy from building up and help you process feelings more effectively. Exercise whenever you feel upset. Exercise is also a fabulous way to free yourself from emotional upset; exercise releases endorphins that will counter the stress hormones.
Acknowledging that it's normal to experience a wide range of emotions will make you feel better. Be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself during challenging emotional times. By practicing acceptance and self-compassion, you will be soothing yourself and paving the way to self-love.
Cultivate safe relationships that encourage emotional expression and vulnerability:
One of best ways to support yourself and grow in emotional stability is to surround yourself with people who care and will empathize with you and your challenges. Tremendous inner growth is sprouted when we are accepted for who we are and the people in our lives don't expect us to be perfect or to always be happy or positive. Choose wisely and spend time with people who love you for who you are and appreciate the wide assortment of the human and emotional experience!
Intense emotions can be difficult to handle so be gentle with yourself. Start small and be consistent. Pick one of the above tools and begin.
Soon, you'll find yourself with calmer waters within and clarity of action.
Frequently Asked Questions: "How Do You Deal with Emotional Turbulence?"
Coping with inner emotional turbulence can be a daunting task. This cycle of our lives requires introspection, self-awareness, and building muscles in resilience.
Seeking support from friends, family, or professional help can be beneficial in navigating through this turbulent emotional state. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and creative hobbies that allow for self-expression freely, such as painting, pottery, and cooking will help. Also, journaling has been found to be extremely beneficial in processing emotions and finding emotional equilibrium.