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emotional expression exercises

Emotional expression

Try expressing some of the safer feelings first: those of pleasure, appreciation, excitement, etc. In locking up our negative feelings, we can often also cut ourselves off from the positive ones. So dig deep, even though you are depressed, and try to express some of the easier feelings and the more pleasurable ones. Simple statements, such as “Thank you for helping me do …”, or “I really appreciated it when you did …”, make a big difference to other people, and (in due course) to yourself. Sometimes, if you are feeling sad, it can help to watch a real tearjerker film like Kramer v. Kramer,or evenBambi;whatever helps to start those tears flowing. The other emotions can often follow once the sluice gates are open to one emotion. It is your responsibility to track these basic feelings; no one else really can. Sometimes, the range or volume of emotions confuses us. We do not really know what we feel because we feel so much, and so differently to what we usually feel. We may both love, and sometimes hate, our parents, or our children, or our partners. So, if this is your situation, start with just one of these feelings. Allow your self to feel first one thing, and let that run for a little. Then switch to something else. Later switch back. Any release is better than none. Sometimes, one’s range of feelings has been flattened: this is quite common in depression, even to the extent that you feel as if you feel nothing. In this instance, start with that: “I feel flat; I feel nothing”, and then continue to describe how that feels. Other feelings will creep in once you have started and if you let them. Sometimes we have been avoiding feelings, or emotional expression, resorting to convention, or just to locking things up. Try to make a simple statements like: “I feel this … or that …”.Try to avoid using phrases such as “I think …” or “One should …”, as these types of statement take you away from what you really feel.

It is often all too easy just to say nothing, if that has been your pattern, so try to say something. Try to be as real as possible. You could practise telling your feelings to someone else first: your hairdresser, a colleague, a counsellor, a neighbour, your partner, or a minister. Tell them what you feel about this or that before you tell the other close members of your family. The emotional charge is much less. Success and honest feedback is sometimes more trustable from strangers than from people you are already emotionally involved with, or who are involved with you. Sometimes people are flooded with too many feelings, like crying that never seems to stop, or anger that does not die down. The doorway to one set of feelings is open and access to others is closed. Try to describe some of the other feelings, the non-dominant ones. Focus on these for a while. Balance will often come. However, this flooding can also be a symptom of trauma, and, if this is the case, you may need some specialist help.

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