The Inconsequential Thoughts of a Teenage Girl on Emotions
By: Zoie Noranho
I have had a rough week. I won’t go into detail about it but there have just been many stressors in my life, coming from different directions. I’ve been feeling very emotionally distraught and the result of all of it has not been pretty. In this time, I’ve pondered a lot about emotions and the way I express mine, making me realize that I haven’t been doing so in a healthy manner. But it seems that it is a popular trend to belittle emotional behaviour, to pass it off as being “dramatic”. The trait of being emotional is pegged as a bad quality, and while I have nothing but a muddled opinion on whether that in itself is right or wrong, it is straying from the point I am trying to make. That is, that there are many different standpoints on how to deal with emotions, whether they fall on the intense or mild side of the spectrum. So here are some words of wisdom from a coping emotional teenage girl, who’s still learning to navigate how she feels.
Emotions should never be fully ignored. This is the first thing I’ve realized, but it's something I find hard to do. I’m not sure about you, but it's not my first instinct to try to discern the myriad of emotions that I feel. Let's use an example of hypothetical rooms, where each room houses something different. You have a distraction room, an emotion room, and so on. I don’t think I’m the only one who sees emotion in the hypothetical room, takes one glance at it and says “thanks, but no thanks''. You flee the hypothetical room with the problematic emotion and instead turn your focus to your mind-numbing behaviours. In your hypothetical distraction room, you could be distracting yourself with hobbies, chores, or even intentional business, where you deem yourself too busy to attend to your emotions. It's simple to turn away from our emotions and attend to the many other facets of our lives, but this doesn’t solve our problems. If anything, the emotions start to work out and get buff while we’re not attending to them. When we do spare them some time, however, they’re much stronger and harder to deal with than they were before. Don’t give them the chance to get fit and overpower you.
The second thing I’ve learnt is that the best first step is to acknowledge what you are feeling, especially with negative emotions. By doing so, you’re clearly describing the emotion and how it may feel physically to you. Whether it be one emotion or multitudes of them, it's important to discern why you feel like this and how your body reacts to this emotion. When you recognize the signs of this feeling, you’ll have an easier time in the future discerning what you feel and why. Our bodies give us clues that we need to pay attention to. When I feel jealous, it feels like there's a snake writhing within my stomach, constantly twisting and curling around itself. By identifying this, I can have an easier time noticing when I feel like this by going off of the physical hints my body gives me. Just like when I’m really excited, my heart feels so light that it could be flying. I feel my soul soar and just like negative emotions, your body also has responses to positive emotions as well.
DO NOT JUDGE YOUR FEELINGS. DO. NOT. JUDGE. THEM. I thought that emphasizing this as much as possible would maybe help you, as the reader, understand how much I’m trying to stress this. This is what has held me back from healing and moving on and still continues to do so. Instead of focusing on how you feel about what you’re feeling, go to the root of the problem. I’ve found my mind spiraling into a state of madness when I’m feeling emotional and I stop to think, “Wait. Am I allowed to feel like this? Is this the way I should feel in this situation?” No. Your feelings are always valid. There is no right or wrong emotion and there never will be. You shouldn't feel angry or irritated with your emotions. Not only is it counterproductive, but it also doesn’t change that you're entitled to whatever emotions you feel. So often we can empathize with others and show kindness but don’t exercise that same level of self-compassion with ourselves. Chances are, you aren’t allowing yourself to truly feel your feelings and that could be detrimental to your own mental health.
Just as our bodies can help us discern how we are feeling, our emotions can also allude to a bigger problem. They can help us be adaptive and are an important tool that everyone should learn how to harness. Here is where I should put in a very important disclaimer: acting on observations that you make from your feelings is very different from acting on the feeling itself. Just because you feel jealous after seeing something on social media, it doesn’t mean you should lie about your own life just to post about it, or leave hurtful comments on someone else’s post to bring them down. Maybe it means you should step away from social media. In this way, we’re taking more information from our emotions and finding ways to cope with them.
There is so much more to emotional regulation that I didn’t talk about, but I highly encourage anyone who’s interested to check out some studies since it’s something that I truly believe is not taught enough. When a child acts out, they’re reprimanded because of their action but not taught how to healthily and safely deal with how they are feeling and why they acted in this manner. If we, as growing adolescents and adults, can’t do it, how can we expect children to? I am on a long winding road to self-understanding, in which I hope to break the bad habits I’ve gained in the past years of ignoring my emotions or unhealthily distracting myself. Always be patient with yourself. Though I’ve never heard anyone say this saying in life, it is still sage advice, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. And you, my lovely reader, are more intricate and lovely than Rome ever was. Never stop exploring yourself because just when you think you’ve learnt it all, you’ll find something new, I guarantee.