How To Process Big Feelings to Experience More Peace for Us and Our Kids

how to process big feelings

Last week I wrote about our “negative” emotions and why it’s so important for us and our kids that we learn to be comfortable accepting them and releasing them, instead of trying to eat our way, drink our way, work our way etc. out of them.

Learning to be with our uncomfortable emotions is not easy.  On this Remembrance Day weekend, it’s a particularly meaningful time to think about feeling peace in our lives and how to process big feelings.

When I think of feeling peaceful, I love this quote:

Peace – it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work,

it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.  ~ Unknown

How To Process BIG Feelings Peacefully?

We need to remember that by fully feeling the emotion, we actually release it.  If we try to escape it or distract ourselves from it, we suppress it and it rises to the surface again and again.

Emotions are like a wave.  They rise, they peak, they fall and then pass.  You may remember  a recent article, How Long Does an Emotion Last If We Don’t Fuel It?  Emotions only last for 90 seconds if we notice them, accept them and don’t feed them.

I’ve recently read about a strategy called The Peace Process, created by Christian Mickelsen, which describes specific steps to finding peace inside of us.

First he explains that we need to get out of our head and our story and just notice, where in our body, we can feel our feelings.  Perhaps it’s in your shoulders, or your throat, your chest, or your stomach area.  Think about what’s upsetting you and then drop into your body and notice where you really feel it.

Second, focus your attention on the physical feeling in your body.  Instead of trying to use your logical mind to problem-solve it or fuel the emotion, let go of the thoughts and just spend time focussing on the physical sensation.

Third, fully accept the feeling.  Don’t judge yourself for having this feeling.  Feel the feeling and accept that “it is how it is”.  Feelings are like a wave, so it won’t last forever, stay with the feeling and be okay with it.

Fourth, notice where the feeling is the most intense.  Breathe into the feeling.  Send love and acceptance to this strong feeling.

Fifth, as you breathe into the emotion, it may intensify or it may lessen.  It may move around your body.  However, it feels, and wherever it moves, stay with it and keep breathing love into it.

Sixth, notice as you begin to feel more peaceful.  Notice as the feeling runs its course.  Think of the wave of emotion and notice as it’s starting to fall away.  Continue breathing into it.

Seventh, feel the stillness inside of you.  You may feel happy or you may feel neutral.  If you don’t feel the angst that you were previously feeling, then this is what peace feels like for you.  Check that you’ve really processed this feeling, by thinking back to the thoughts that initially triggered you, and see if those thoughts still create a strong reaction.  If they do, then go through this process again, as many times as you need to, until whatever triggered you has completely cleared.

This process also reminds me of meditation, although this process is more targeted at resolving a specific feeling.  In meditation, we also want to get out of our mind, drop into our body, breathe deeply, feel our feelings and let go of our thoughts.  In a world, where so much information is coming at our minds, we need to take a time-out for ourselves and recharge  by connecting with ourselves.

When our phone needs charging, it simply doesn’t function anymore.  We need to recharge ourselves or we will simply not function anymore.

For some, it may work better to breathe into our feelings when we’re outside.  When we’re outside and connected to nature, it helps us to feel calm.  Feeling the wind, sun or rain on our face or watching the waves of the ocean, helps us to take deep breaths and feel more grounded.

When our children feel afraid of the intensity of their feelings, we need to be able to help them breathe into their feelings instead of trying to avoid or escape them.  We need to build up their resilience by teaching them that emotions are waves and they can surf the wave.  Emotions rise, peak, fall and pass.  It’s very important that we teach and role model how to process big feelings.

How to process our big feelings

A page from Sharon’s forthcoming book: Surfing the Worry Imp’s Wave

 The most important gift we can give our children, is the gift of us staying calm and grounded, so they can do the same.

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” ~ Peggy O’Mara

On this Remembrance Day weekend, it is a good reminder to focus on how we can bring more peace into the world, by teaching ourselves and our children how to find inner-peace,

Peace to you and your families,


how to process big feelings

PS.  A reminder of the wonderful opportunity to view the award-winning documentary:  The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia on the North Shore of Vancouver this Wednesday evening.  Tickets are $10 and can be purchased for you and your 10yrs.+ child here.  If you work with or have a child who struggles in reading, writing and/or math, you won’t want to miss this film.  We’re also fortunate to have Dr. Glen Davies, psychologist and director of The ABLE Clinic facilitate a 30 minute discussion after the film.

PPS.  I will be giving two free presentations on Developing Your Child’s Resilient Quotient and Understanding and Managing the BIG Emotions of Anger/Anxiety in the Tween/Teen Years, sponsored by Brockton School.  The presentations will be held in Lynn Valley.  Click on the titles of the presentations for location, date, time and to reserve your free ticket.

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