Dealing with Big Emotions

Updated: May 27, 2020

When I last saw my therapist, she and I talked about how since the Great Depression and WWII (and probably before then), people have been traumatized, and we've been genetically passing these traumas down to future generations unwillingly and unwittingly through epigenetics. (For more about epigenetics, check out Rach's and my podcast here:

The theory she has, and I agree with, is that we all tend to stuff down our emotions and not deal with them. Stuffing our emotions doesn't stop us from feeling them - it just makes us more volatile when situations happen. If we don't allow ourselves to feel our emotions then let them go, we're like an emotional grenade: our pin has been pulled and we could blow up at any time.

So how do you deal with emotions? How do you feel them, then let them go? And what if you're scared that feeling big emotions will overwhelm you, or you won't be able to stop feeling that way when you let it out?

I was scared for a long time that if I let myself feel the emotions of being sexually abused as a child, it would overwhelm me and take over my life. I was afraid that if I didn't stop punishing myself for being a bad person, I would do something that would ruin someone else's life. But what I found when I did let go of that, when I did talk to therapists about it, wasn't judgment or being buried under the emotion: it felt lighter instead. Having shared my deepest, scariest secret with other people didn't make it harder, it made it easier, until I finally got to the point where I could forgive myself and move on with my life.

There are so many emotional release techniques you can use. Here are some to try:

1. Write and burn. Set a timer for 5 minutes,then grab a piece of paper and write "I feel _____" (whatever emotion comes up for you). When the timer goes off, throw your paper into a wood stove or set it on fire on a BBQ, then let that emotion go.

2. Take a deep grounding breath, then sit with your emotion. Breathe as you feel that emotion, and when you're ready, imagine breathing it out and letting it go.

3. Listen to music. Music can match your mood or transform your mood, so listen to whatever kind of music you need in that moment.

4. Talk to a trusted friend, a therapist or coach, or to your Higher Power. Say everything you feel like you need to say, then let it go.

What helps you process and move through emotions? What's your favorite emotional release technique?

Sara Susov: Step Up Mentoring

Photo by Benjamin Sinca on Unsplash

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