Do you, like me, swallow your feelings so hard they never get a chance to come out until they explode?
We both know that’s a really bad habit with a whole boatload of trouble that will eventually unload on us, right?
So, today, let’s practice not doing that, but in ways that are healthy. Let’s find a way to let it out and use that internal space for something better. Even the planet has to let off steam sometimes, we should too.
Think of your mind like a closet. In this closet you’ve shoved all the gifts you hate. Some you hate so much you’d like to throw them at the person who gave them to you. Some you just wish you’d never set eyes on. All of them get shoved in here and over time, opening that door to stuff another item into it gets dangerous.
Well, let’s see how else we can do this. We can certainly use that closet to keep much more useful things than just stuff we don’t want in the first place!
One way to let it out is to journal. Now, this one is effective, but here’s the catch. You really need a way to keep what you write out of sight of people in your life. This is your space to vent, and no one’s business but your own. For this reason, a public blog is a BAD idea for this exercise, even if you use a pseudonym. Also, writing on paper may not be possible if you have people in your home who will read what you’re writing when you’re not around and then be mad at you. If you’re going to journal, do it safely.
I’ve used a blogging site and a fake name, with the blog set to private so no one else even knows about it but me. I’ve written things out on paper and burned it in the grill after I finished or shredded it and taken it straight to the dumpster. Whatever you do, the only people who have any business seeing this exercise are you, your therapist, and whatever god you believe in.
If you’re going to journal, don’t hold back. Write every single bit of anger, disappointment, regret, and anything else you’re feeling about an event. The name of this post is let it out, and that’s what you’re in the business of doing. Name those feelings, get down into the visceral bits with them.
Another way to let things out is to use physical activity. I know someone who did go through and set up a punching bag in her garage. Once she got done punching out her emotions, she started studying how to land kicks properly. Next thing I knew she had an exercise room and was competing in kick-boxing tournaments! Talk about using that closet for something better!
You don’t have to punch things, but physical activity helps release the emotions. My poor dishes have been “rage scrubbed” more than once! But, if I’m mad about something and I scrub the dishes by hand and clean the kitchen, I’m not so angry and the kitchen looks like it just got tackled by a team of pros!
Find a physical activity that helps you let out that emotion. If the emotion is sadness, maybe a hot shower would help you let it out while also soothing your body. Whatever the emotion is, find something that gives you a healthy, safe way to vent it.
A third way to help get that mess out of your closet is to do something creative with it. Paint, write a story, dance it out, whatever you can do that gives you a way to express it through your creativity. You don’t have to keep it after the fact, but you won’t be stuffing your feelings away and trying to pretend they don’t exist. The ultimate goal is to feel soothed after releasing the emotional overload.
The healthy and productive ways to vent our emotions are as varied as we are. These suggestions are here just to start you thinking about what you can do when your emotions run high.
Remember to stay healthy and productive in your efforts. Alcohol, drug abuse, self-harm, or harming others are all things we don’t need to be doing in our lives. We’re about the business of growing and finding better ways forward, and we don’t do that by holding ourselves or others back.
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