Written by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, M.Ed., MSW, LCSW
Riding the Wave of Emotion
Who said that we are to be happy all the time? We all have rough days. Days when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Days when we would rather not get out of bed. Days when one thing after another seems to go wrong.
Then there are days when we are really hurting, and our emotional pain seems just too overwhelming; so overwhelming that we feel like we need to stop it immediately.
We feel like we would do just about anything to make the pain subside. We want it to just go away! Yes, we often want a quick fix. However, that quick fix is sometimes destructive, and what we really need is courage, patience, and time.
A quick fix? A drink, a pill, four pieces of chocolate cake, internet porn, sex, an excessive shopping spree, suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviors….
Yes, many people get desperate for a quick fix in times of pain.
But if we can just stop for a moment, identify the emotions that we are experiencing, accept that they are there without judging them, and remind ourselves that they will pass, we may find the courage to endure them for a little while.
Learning to ride the wave of emotion is a skill that can be learned. Accepting and tolerating the emotion without jumping to a quick fix must be practiced to be mastered. But it is very possible. Sometimes when we experience difficult emotion, we think that we will never feel joy again. Writing positive affirmations down on paper when things are going well can be helpful; it reminds us that we have survived discomfort in the past.
When experiencing difficult feelings, talk to yourself in accepting and nonjudgmental ways. Positive self-talk may go something like this. Okay, I am feeling______. And that is okay. I am going to accept that this is a bad day, and know that tomorrow, I may not feel this way. I may not even feel this way in a few hours. If I can hold on and endure these feelings without doing______ (self-destructive behavior), I know that I will make it through and eventually feel better.
Your moment to moment, day by day emotions are temporary. Sometimes you just need to ride the wave. It will pass.
*If you have been experiencing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness for several days, having suicidal thoughts, or are unable to stop a self-destructive behavior, please see your physician or mental health professional immediately. In many cases, it is not in your best interest to ride the emotional wave alone.