How to Process Big Emotions

by Crystal Belle on August 13, 2011

How to Process Big Emotions
1. Get Big Paper. When thinking about how I would work through some of my emotions, they felt huge and overwhelming. The only way I could see to get them down was on a big sheet of paper. I use a big white craft roll and lots of markers, starting with a big sheet and pulling out more paper from the roll as I need it.
2. Write “I am ANGRY” (or sad, or frustrated, or afraid, or…) in the center. (I started with “I am ANGRY”, since that was my prevailing emotion.)
3. Write everything in the world you’re angry/afraid/sad/etc about. Write big, small, haphazardly, or in pretty colors. Just write everything you’re feeling, no matter how black, how un-ladylike, how scandalous, how ridiculous, how small. “I am angry because I can’t control…” and “I’m angry because I wish ____ would….”
4. As soon as you’re prompted to start a new emotion, do it, and go back to each one as needed. I ended up with a big panel each for “I am angry”, “I am afraid”, and “I am empowered.” (Writing my angry emotions lead to a feeling of empowerment. I’d be interested to see if that happens for you, too.) “I am afraid if I don’t…” “I’m afraid ____ will…”
5. Keep going until you feel better. This was incredible cathartic for me. I put on some music, spread out on the floor, and started writing. All the weird fears that have popped up that I hadn’t acknowledged came out. All the little things I’ve been angry about but ignoring are out there in bright markers.
6. Pay attention to the one-offs versus the recurring themes. There is no emotion too small to acknowledge, so write them all down- but you might notice that you have a recurring theme of being undermined at work, or are constantly fearful about a simple thing you can change, now that you can see it’s a major issue for you.
7. Go forth and make a difference. Pay attention to your emotions. Are they motivating you to act? Take a little step and see how it feels. You’ll make a difference and you’ll feel better.

Own Your Story by Carissa Paige (on Etsy)

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Eileen August 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Hey There Belle,

I loooovvvee this post!! And, your way of processing- I am so going to try this!! In the past, I’ve used art journaling to express myself. I have two precious books I’ve filled with grief, loss, pain, humor, anxiety, love and more…. it saved me. Stifling feelings was the norm and can be the norm for me. I’m a good girl, after all. But, journaling with art materials, like we used to color for hours, remember that?- has freed me. Now, I paint, write in a journal and plan on pulling those journals out again. Yoga is another way I get back in touch with myself. Or, hiking with my dog lately.

Thank you for this post.
(((hugs)))

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Belle August 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Eileen,
I love love love your art materials journals! What a great idea. And your comment, “I’m a good girl, after all.” Oh, isn’t that what we’re all told to be! How sad that being “good” equals being “bad” to ourselves, our intuition, our bodies by stifling our emotions. I believe we can be good, decent women yet still express our emotions when they arise- and when enough of us do it as a habit, society will adapt.

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Lucy Anne August 13, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Thank you.

P.S.Butcher paper fits the bill

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Belle August 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Perfect! xoxo

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Lorinda @ Waisting Away August 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I’ve been processing a lot of very old emotions this year and though counselling is helping it doesn’t always feel as (pro)active as it could. This sounds like a wonderful idea to get stuff out in a big, but safe, way. Thank you.

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Belle August 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Those old emotions are what trap me, too. I may be able to express what I’m feeling today, but I still have lots of years of pent-up emotions still linger. It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone on that journey. Let me know how this goes for you, Lorinda, I hope it helps.
Hugs,
Belle

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Jean August 15, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Belle, have read your message again and again…another awesome expression of your feelings into powerful words. This world is and will continue to be a better and gratuitous place with your meaningful contributions. Thank You. Blessings, Jean

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Belle August 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Thank you so much! I am humbled by your kind words. =)

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Dyamond August 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Belle, this post spoke to me on such a deep level. I struggle with the same issues. It seems like when I get old emotions out of the way, even more appear that I didn’t even know were still there. And then I start feeling bad- like I’m supposed to feel better. I also start becoming exhausted. Emotions are not easy to deal with. But I’m learning to just let them be. It’s so much easier this way.

I loved this post and I loved your suggestions! I’m definitely going to try them!

Metta,
Dyamond

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Belle August 22, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Dyamond, I am so interested to hear how this worked for you! I completely relate to feeling bad for not feeling better. We’re supposed to be positive and uplifting, right? We’re supposed to have it all together! But being able to feel and process our emotions IS having it all together- and by honoring them, we’re not denying our human experience. So grateful to hear from you, and I’m holding space for your big emotions. <3<3<3
Belle

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julia August 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Belle…this is a deep & beautiful post. You have a way with words, my friend–so clear and right on.

Emotions have so much to tell us, rather than shoving them down, we can use them as fuel to move forward.

Thank you for showing up here, honest & real. Your presence matters so much.

With love,

Julia

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Belle August 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Fuel to move forward- so true! I have another post brewing on using fear as fuel. Truly, denying our emotions sucks the energy, while processing through them ignites us. Thank you for your gorgeous presence as well, Julia, I am so grateful for you!

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Hettienne Ma August 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I just found this blog – wonderfully inspiring and supportive! I have added the CSW badge to my blogs. Please pay me a visit : http://hergracedevata.blogspot.com

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Belle August 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Thank you Hettienne!

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Heather August 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Awesome post, i have been going through some ups and downs myself lately I will give something like this a try!

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Belle August 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm

My heart goes out to you in your ups and downs, Heather. Remember- this too shall pass! xoxox
Belle

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Alia September 1, 2011 at 4:31 am

I LOVE this, Belle. You are such an inspiration. You have so beautifully put into words what so many of us have been feeling. Thank you.
Love,
Alia

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Kimberly Babcock September 1, 2011 at 10:29 am

Wonderful! Finally it is time for you to unload the emotions that are required to breathe. From a very early age I knew I was different when I cried when others were in pain. As an adult the realization hit me that I could feel how others were feeling so being in a group was incredibly unsettling. I am an empath with HUGE emotions. It is who I am. Be true to yourself.

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