Managing Big Emotions

There are thought to be between four to six core emotions including anger, fear, sadness, disgust, joy and surprise. All emotions are useful, they are designed to get our attention, connect our subconscious with our conscious mind, and give us information. We cannot selectively feel some emotions but not others. It’s an “all in” deal. If we numb sadness, we also numb joy. 

Our emotions occur one at a time, a bit like walking up and down an emotions staircase with each stair representing a single emotion. “Wait” you say “I’ve had many emotions occur all at once before, feeling love and hate at the same time.” While we may experience rapidly alternating emotions in hundredths of a second, emotions do not occur simultaneously. Our emotions are solitary and exist sequentially. They can change so quickly they can feel like an ambush and become overwhelming. This is most definitely normal, we all experience emotional ambushes at sometime in our life. We are not designed to feel emotionally out of control constantly or that we have not control over our emotions.

Drawing, painting, sculpting, carving or collaging for example, can help emotional expression and processing of difficult emotions. In a safe, therapeutic setting an Art Therapist facilitates sessions that can activate visual/spatial intelligence and stimulates the use of colour, line, shape, symbols and metaphor that leads to self awareness and increase emotional literacy. 

Therapeutic art sessions can help express inner states when there are no words, when you don’t know how you feel or when it seems many emotions are present simultaneously. Our emotions should be beneficial to us, allowing us to experience life fully.

Take a selfie: Hows your emotional health? What emotional health legacy are you passing to your kids? What emotion do you regularly wrestle with? Maybe it’s time you helped your emotions work for you and not against you.

Rochelle Melville

Rochelle Melville is an art therapist and intentional creative. Rochelle works from Pathways to Expression in Bald Hills facilitating individual and group sessions and is available to facilitate workshops in the community.