“I don’t know…I’m feeling some type of way.”
These are the words I hear, both in my office and on every Love and Hip Hop reality show aired on VH1. And now with the current news of the COVID-19 virus comes a myriad of emails, warnings, news updates, employment issues and financial strain…it’s literally in your face everywhere you turn. It’s clear, there is a reason to “feel some type of way.” And what you’re feeling is an emotion.
If you were to Google the word emotion you’ll find the following definition from Lexico.com:
a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
The definition above is somewhat inaccurate as it does not include the physiological aspect of emotions. What does this mean? This means emotions are experienced throughout our entire being. When we feel a mood it also manifests through impressions in the body called somatosensory. To paraphrase a research article published in 2014, researchers were able to develop a “map” of the human body, then identified and recorded the body sensations corresponding with it’s particular emotional state.
So yes, you are feeling some type of way and it’s psychological and physiological.
If you are feeling a muddle of emotions and sensations...this is normal
If your experiences and feelings have not been validated…your feelings and experiences do matter.
Below I have provided a few tips which may help to deal with emotions effectively.
I encourage you to not interpret emotions as “good” feelings or “bad” feelings. Yes, these elements of ourselves may feel unpleasant or pleasant to our person. Emotions simply are what they are and it’s ok to say, this is what I feel…periodt.
You are the driver
Feelings are a part of the human experience. How you respond to them and behave as a result of your emotions is your responsibility.
I often share with my clients the analogy of the car, the human relationship with emotions is this: Imagine yourself in a car and your emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, joy etc) are 4-year-old children riding along with you. In real life, would you prefer a 4-year-old to become the driver? Most likely you would not prefer the 4-year-old to take control of your vehicle. When you allow your emotions to take control of your behavioral response this is exactly what’s happening; little Anger now has the wheel.
Now picture yourself as the driver. You are present with the emotions who are safely sitting in the backseat. The 4-year-old emotions (lil cuties) are safely sitting in the backseat waiting for you to lead them and teach them how to conduct themselves. Although, they are in the backseat, the lil emotions know you see them and that they are still important to you.
Identify the place in your body where you feel the emotion
As children, we are taught four basic emotions. But in truth, there are numerous emotions and with this occurs physiological responses.
Name the emotion
Naming an emotion helps us to gain more control of it as well as insight into its existence. Acknowledging its presence will assist with the ability to identify the origin of the emotion. Then, explore the purpose of the emotion for the time it did serve you; decide if you will continue to associate with the named emotion. It may be time to let it go!
In summary, social media and reality shows have carried the torched of popular phrases which have quickly caught on such as, “I’m feeling some type of way.” In addition, the current political climate and most recent COVID-19 epidemic is cause for a brew of emotions. We now know through research; emotions are not only a part of being human but is also experienced within the entire human body. It’s important for each one of us to recognize an emotion, find its place in the body and acknowledge that it is there without judgement.
If you believe your overwhelming feelings have led to difficulty with maintaining friendships and relationships, it may be time to seek professional support.
About the author:
Reynelda Jones is a Licensed Masters Social Worker- Clinical, Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors, and Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist. She is the owner of the private practice A Solution B, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she specializes in working with women who have experienced childhood trauma which is negatively impacting their current relationships and family dynamics with an infusion of holistic care to incorporate stress relief in the areas of the mind, body, and home.
Nummenmaa, L., Glerean, E., Hari, R., & Hietanen, J. K. (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(2), 646–651. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321664111