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VideoAsk Dora - Expressing Emotions When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

Ask Dora - Expressing Emotions When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

When you treat emotions as messengers, you are cultivating an awareness that better helps you process what you’re feeling.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace

My name is Dora Kamau, and I'm a meditation teacher here at Headspace. This is Ask Dora, an opportunity for you to ask me anything you'd like about meditation, mindfulness, or just whatever's on your mind. For this episode, I'll be answering one of your questions about how we can better understand and express our emotions when we feel overwhelmed. Our question today comes from Harshita who writes, "I don't know how to express myself whenever I'm upset or disagreeing with someone about something. Instead of telling the other person how I feel, I end up crying or I get withdrawn and don't care what's happening. It's like my emotions have two extremes with no balance. How can I have better control over myself and my emotions?" This is a common question I've been seeing lately, especially given today's climate. In the past year alone, there's truly been a lot to be upset about whether it's the global pandemic, racial injustice, or just the uncertainties that come with life. It's like our emotions have been sending us a plethora of messages, and emotions can be complicated to manage, especially in the heat of the moment or when we leave them unresolved for a long time. So I like to see and treat emotions as messengers, simply relaying a message to me about myself, someone else, or my environment, and seeing emotions in this way can help make them more digestible. It's also important to note that there's a difference between an emotion and a feeling. Emotions are physiological responses that are unconscious and instinctive and usually only lasts for six seconds, whereas feelings are conscious and are our response to our emotions. Now we can't control what causes these emotions, but we can control our response to them. So where do we begin? Well, it all begins with awareness of how we're feeling, and we can also cultivate this awareness by dropping any resistance you may have in the moment. Feel your feelings. You mentioned at times that your emotions can get mixed up and this sometimes can be caused by unresolved emotions where what we're feeling in the present moment is also lost amongst all the other emotions that we've been storing within ourselves. For example, when you notice sadness, see if you can locate where you feel that sadness in your body, and then notice your response to this emotion. How we respond to how we feel really makes a difference, and you don't have to wait to be sad to try this. Try this when you're happy as well. I think something else that's important to remember is that we're human. Sometimes we resist how we're feeling because we think we shouldn't be feeling a certain way, but it's okay. Our emotions and our feelings are quite normal and a part of our human experience. They're what make us human. So when we're able to recognize this, think about all the other people in the world who...


Duration3 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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