Riding Out Intense Emotions

Riding Out Intense Emotions

Teen: Dear Dr. Expert,

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve been struggling with really intense emotions. Sometimes I feel super sad and other times I feel really angry or guilty. Sometimes the feelings are so overwhelming it’s scary. I hate feeling this way and I don’t know what to do to get rid of these feelings. HELP!

Struggling in St. John's
Dr. Expert: Dear Struggling in St. John's,

It sounds like you’re having a tough time. Unfortunately, we can’t just get rid of certain emotions because they all serve an important purpose in our lives - even the difficult ones like anxiety, sadness, grief, anger, shame, and guilt.

Emotions give us information. Sadness may tell us that we’re lonely or that we’re grieving a loss. Anger may be a clue that we are being treated unfairly or that others are not meeting our expectations. Guilt often results from the belief that we have done something wrong or hurt someone.

Emotions also move us to act or react in different ways. Frustration may drive us to problem-solve or try to change a situation for the better. Sadness may encourage us to seek comfort from others, or create time to reflect. Guilt may motivate us to make amends or keep us from repeating the same behaviour in the future.

When emotions are intense and overwhelming, we naturally want to get rid of them or block them out. Not feeling or facing our emotions; however, often makes things worse and catches up to us eventually. Ultimately, we want to be able to deal with what is causing our emotions and express them in a healthy way. But sometimes we find ourselves confronted by emotions that feel too intense or overwhelming to deal with in the moment. Or, we can find ourselves in situations we cannot immediately change. There are strategies that can help us “ride out” or “dial down” difficult and intense emotions until we are either less emotionally reactive or we are in a time or place where we are able to reflect on our situation or deal with what may be causing our emotions.

Check out these helpful strategies for “riding out” intense emotions.

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