I’m (not) Fine: how to tidy your emotional closet

Modern society expects people to operate like well-oiled machines. Yet our bodies and minds are simply not designed to withstand the long hours and stress associated with the expectations of the 21st century. We have become numb to our internal wisdom, using alcohol, drugs, TV, late nights, shopping, anything to prevent us hearing the body shouting ‘Houston we have a problem’. ‘I’m fine’ has become a verbal shield, allowing us to avoid looking closely at our emotions. ‘I’m not fine’ is scary to verbalise because it makes us vulnerable.

Women fare worst of the sexes. The expectation is that we have a career whilst raising children. The overwhelming stress of trying to be all things to all people causes us to disconnect from ourselves. We apply the emotional band aid of ‘I’m fine’ to stop us having to acknowledge our internal landscape. But, if left unattended our emotional closet eventually demands attention and we are forced to examine the unprocessed detritus of our lives.

In this article I will share 5 tips on how to gently remove the band aid and attend to your emotional closet without becoming overwhelmed in the process.

1) It’s ok not to be ok

The recent awareness in mental health has coined the phrase ‘It’s ok not to be ok’ which is so incredibly helpful. But take the acceptance of not feeling ok one step further and ask for help. If you are practically overwhelmed it is reasonable to ask your partner, family and friends to give you a hand. If you need help mentally or emotionally, seek it from a professional or someone trained to hold space so that you can feel safe to offload your problems. Try to avoid airing your worries with people who may judge you (inadvertently or not), belittle or dismiss your feelings, as this will leave you feeling hurt and confused, compounding the problem.

2) Women’s circles

A well-run women’s circle is a wonderful experience. Circles are often held around new or full moon and are a gathering of women of all ages who come together in sisterhood. Each person is invited to speak whilst being heard, non-judgmentally by the others. No-one should butt in or otherwise talk, tears allowed to flow without interference. This is a safe place to have your feelings validated by being witnessed. In person women’s circles are an amazing experience, but you will find circles online as well, especially since the start of the pandemic.

3) Sacred listening

This is a service offered by practitioners, similar to a women’s circle but on a 1:1 basis. I offer an online Unburden Your Worries session, a time for you to release your worries and reconnect back to your internal wisdom. You can learn more here.

4) Flower essences

Flower essences are a natural, safe and very gentle way of helping us to recognise and release overwhelming feelings. You may have used Rescue Remedy, a wonderful combination of flower essences used for shock and exam worries. But there are many more essences to help with every type of emotion. You can either choose essences from producers’ websites or, better still, have a consultation to receive a specific mix blended just for you. The added benefit of having a consultation is that you will also be given the opportunity of speaking your worries in a safe space. You can read about an flower essence consultation here.

5) Reflective journaling

Your journal is a safe space to examine your feelings. The act of writing on paper often releases the stranglehold of overwhelming feelings, allowing us to more clearly see a way through. Rather than using your journal as a diary to record the day, try looking at your internal landscape from the viewpoint of a compassionate impartial observer. Ask yourself helpful questions as this observer so that you can create deeper self-awareness through your replies. You can read more on reflective journalling in this post here.

Unpacking an overflowing emotional closet may feel scary, but clearing a little at a time will benefit greatly in the long run. When you understand and accept your feelings, you can find peace and joy in your life.

You can book a free 15-minute chat to learn how I can support you in tidying your emotional closet. Book here.