Soothing Sunday: Set a Timer

We are human. We have emotions. Most of us in the US don’t allow enough time to process those emotions in a healthy way because we’re taught to bottle things up and never let it out.

When something truly world-shifting happens, especially when it’s something painful, we suddenly find ourselves with a broken bottle and emotions running wild all over the place.

I’ve been there, and here is the one thing that got me through it.It has been years now, but I had the wonderful agony of watching the man I loved walk off with someone else. We were in the middle of planning our wedding.

In hindsight, he did me a huge favor, and that’s not just sour grapes. No need to go into details, but he was an alcoholic and a narcissist.

The months following that break up are kind of a blur to me. After 15 yrs or so of loving one person, it hurts. I slept very little, ate less, barely functioned enough to work. When I did sleep, I cried myself to sleep and then cried myself awake. I was a mess and the emotions were taking over my life and threatening my ability to support myself.

A therapist I saw at the time had an idea I hadn’t heard of before.

He said if I felt like crying, set a timer. Allow myself to cry, hurt, scream, or do whatever I needed to let that emotional load run loose. (No self-harm allowed, of course.) When the timer ran out, go wash my face, comb out my hair, and go on with something in a different room of the house.

I’ve gone back to using a timer after a few rough events since then. It seems it’d only work for some things and not others, but no! It works even for those “OH MY GOD I’M SO EXCITED I’M SHAKING!” moments!

So, if you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by an emotion, set a timer, let that emotion run wild for the length of that time. No judging it, either. That feeling is valid. There is nothing wrong with you for having an emotion.

Then, wash your face, brush your hair, and get back out there, because you’re really quite a resilient little badass!

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