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4 Steps to Help Manage Overwhelming Emotions

Ways to stay calm and grounded during unpredictable times.

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This challenging year has depleted our emotional well-being in unpredictable ways. During times like these, failing to remember our innate unbreakable wholeness—and its qualities of indestructible joy and peace—can cause us to over-identify with our emotional responses. Our egos may translate physical illness, emotional trauma, or even day-to-day challenges as “something’s wrong with me.”

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Perhaps your neighbor keeps turning down your invitations for a socially distanced walk. You might feel angry and rejected and interpret their unavailability as “I’m not worth their time.” In reality, they may be stuck in endless Zoom meetings or dealing with family obligations.

Welcoming and mindfully responding to your emotions can help you see that your inner wisdom, wholeness, and well-being are always close at hand. This is the unbreakable promise that yoga offers us all. The next time a challenge arises, follow these five steps to help break the cycle of assumptions.

1. Welcome Sensations as Messengers

We experience feelings as sensations in our bodies and minds, such as a tight belly, a pounding heartbeat, or agitating thoughts. Pausing and tuning in to these sensations can help you identify your emotions. For example, if your muscles tense when your friend says they can’t meet up, notice and accept the sensation as a sign that their actions upset you.

2. Develop Your Witness Consciousness

Witness the sensations and the stories you might be creating around them. Inquire, “What is the underlying expectation or belief that’s giving rise to this emotion?” Witnessing and accepting your emotions helps you disentangle from them, break free of conditioned reactions, and grow your capacity for compassion toward yourself and others.

3. Create Calm

No matter which emotion is present, realize that there’s nothing inherently wrong with you. Tap into the somatic sensations you associate with peace, such as slowing and steadying your breath or grounding your palms on your abdomen or chest. Notice how your feelings transform and how you are more connected to yourself and to what life is asking of you.

4. Release Unrealistic Expectations

Clinging to narratives about how things “should be” leads to suffering and prevents you from recognizing new information, such as the fears and challenges your friend might be dealing with. By seeing their situation more clearly, your feelings may soften, and you might be able to talk things out with them and together find a supportive solution.

5. Try This Brief Meditation

From a seated or lying position, open your senses to the environment around you. Feel the air on your skin and where your body is in contact with the chair or ground. Witness emotions that arise and how they show up as sensations. Welcome them just as they are.

Then, set your attention free. Feel yourself everywhere and nowhere, a spacious presence that expands in all directions. Gently inquire, “Is there some action I am being asked to take that will enable me to feel authentic and harmonious within myself and in my life?” Listen for the inner voice that whispers its answer to you. Welcome the wisdom that has been sent from beyond.

Seeking more emotional support and practices that help guide you toward balance and peace? Start Richard’s four-week program today!