Peace of Minds

I'm overwhelmed by my emotions

Emotions are emotional states with sensations of pleasure or discomfort. They colour the experiences of our daily life and inform us about the events that are important to us.

An emotion is a natural reaction to a stimulation, a trigger, a real event or a thought. It's expressed through physical sensations (hormonal changes, changes in heart rate, breathing, etc.) and behaviour (face, approach, running away or struggling). The emotions are brief and show on our face. They help us to adapt to events and to regulate the physiology of our organism.

Through exposure to repeated stress, traumatic experiences have an impact on our emotional functioning. We may feel overwhelmed by our emotions or, conversely, feel drained and emotionally empty, finding it hard to experience any emotion. This is reversible and involves adjusting and learning.

    We all need our emotions! Emotions have three functions:
  • Emotions help us prepare to act : they guide the way we act and the behaviours we adopt. Fear can help us to escape from a situation of insecurity and to take action to protect ourselves.
  • Emotions are communicated to others : they inform others about how we're feeling and influence their feelings and behaviors towards us.
  • Emotions communicate with us : emotions inform us about how we're reacting to events and can act as a warning of danger.

When we're overwhelmed by our emotions, we can no longer think in a rational way. These emotions can be accompanied by a sense of urgency, making us behave in ways where we lose control and that are out of sync with our values.

Conversely, we may try to avoid unpleasant emotions (fear, anger) related to trauma. Efforts to suppress them can take the form of avoiding thinking about them, or avoidance behaviours like high-dose television, hypersomnia, alcohol and drug abuse, over-eating, etc.

  • When should we deal with our emotions?
  • When our emotions threaten our well-being.
  • When emotions disrupt our everyday lives.
Vicious circle of emotional avoidance (Barlow & Allen 2004; Philippot, 2007). Faced with negative emotions, people try to avoid feeling them. They try to remove, avoid, or bury emotions perceived as intolerable or unacceptable. They find it difficult to manage the emotion and may exacerbate it.

Suffering does not come from the emotion itself but from the accompanying thoughts and the exhausting struggle to suppress them. This struggle is ineffective and toxic.

Avoidance maintains and consolidates fear. Avoiding our emotions leads to poorer quality of life, autonomy and opportunities. What's more, we can't avoid everything all the time. When you've experienced trauma, it's the same, something will always make you think about it. If we avoid all the situations that cause distress, we won't learn to cope with them!

Accepting our emotions is a key learning process that frees us to live in accordance with our values. To manage our emotions, we first need to understand how they work. Understanding the link between our emotions and past traumas will also help us to find our inner serenity. Learning to observe, feel and name our emotions will then help us to identify our needs.

There are many techniques for coping better with emotional waves, such as relaxation, mindfulness meditation and hypnosis. Below are a few suggestions:

Physiological strategies

Breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, hypnosis techniques. The techniques must be practiced regularly and in a non-stressful environment.

Cognitive strategies

Create a list of positive words that will counter the negative emotions

Behavioural strategies

Alternative behaviours: change your habits to create new, less harmful ones. Increase the number of enjoyable activities.

Let's look at this feeling together more closely

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