If you have ever found yourself thinking that feeling a certain way was the equivalent to being weak, dependent, desperate, frail, or broken, here are a list of 5 reframes (not an exhaustive list, by any means!) to understand your emotions in a totally different light.
Emotions are laden with incredibly useful information. Emotions tell us what we like, what we don’t like, what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, etc. They are messengers, carrier pigeons, signals, like waves in the ocean bringing shells to the shore. Emotions are neither good nor bad, and don’t carry a meaning of weakness or strength. They simply are a facet of human experience.
There is no such thing as a “wrong” emotion. All emotions have a cause, and all emotions make sense based on that cause. Causes of emotion are based in our perception and interpretation of events.
Did you know that emotional pain registers in the same area of the brain as physical pain?! We would never call someone “weak” for dealing with chronic physical pain; in fact, we might have more empathy for them due to the stress they are constantly under. So why would someone be weak for dealing with chronic emotional pain? If anything, that individual is incredibly strong for moving through life despite experiencing the weight and burden of emotional pain.
Emotions communicate to others why something is important to us and motivates others to help. If I asked you, “Hey, could you come to this event on Friday?” you may feel ambivalent to respond one way or another. But, if I ask you, “Hey, could you come to this event with me on Friday? I have been waiting all year to go to it and I am so excited for it. I’m also pretty nervous about it and it would make me feel so comforted if I could share the experience with someone else,” you would probably be much more inclined to join me!
Verbalizing how we are feeling helps us to regulate our emotions and be more in control. This study showed that participants had less of a fear response when they verbalized their fear. Being present with our experience and acknowledging it out loud can actually be a catalyst for feeling better in the moment.
Sometimes, due to developmental trauma, we come to associate certain emotional experiences with shame. That can really get in our way of accepting what we are feeling as okay, informative, and worthy of attention and care. Other times we learn to numb ourselves because we may not have felt encouraged to explore our emotions as children.
If you find you have difficulty, blocks, or barriers to feeling, verbalizing, or understanding your emotions, then meeting with a therapist could be a great place to start.
- Nina Tomkiewicz, LCSW
- To schedule an appointment with Nina, click here!