How to Process Emotions – 4 Easy Steps
Do you know how to process your emotions? Have you given it much thought? Or are your emotions running the show?
Knowing how to process your emotions is one of the most empowering things you can do as a woman. This article will give you an easy and effective process to take care of yourself emotionally. Especially when you’re upset with those closest to you.
The 4 Steps You Need to Learn
I developed a process to manage your emotions in a productive way. The process is called the Four N’s: Notice, Name, Nurture, and Need. We all want someone to be there for us in relationship. This process is a way for you to be there for yourself emotionally. It is an easy yet powerful practice worth learning.
The process involves directing your behavior toward what is underneath an uncomfortable feeling you are having. Though running from our feelings comes in many forms, I will use overeating as an example. Let’s say you find yourself eating too much pizza or indulging in a second or third piece of pie, knowing this behavior will leave you feeling discontent in your body.
1. Notice Your Behavior
The first N is to Notice, “Ah, I am reaching for too much pizza or pie because I’m having an uncomfortable feeling.” You’re bringing more consciousness to an unconscious behavior. You’re shifting your behavior simply by noticing and acknowledging that you’re overeating due to an uncomfortable feeling.
This step is the first step in knowing how to process your emotions. It seems easy but really it’s the hardest step. That’s because it’s easier to stay stuck in the old familiar patterns. It takes effort to notice and then be willing to do something about it in that moment. To stop and shift the energy so that you can start the process of self-awareness and learning how to process your emotions. Simply by developing the art of noticing you now have a choice to take it to the next step.
2. Name the Uncomfortable Feeling
Once you take notice, proceed to the second N, which is to Name it. If you get this far you’re well on your way of knowing how to process emotions when you’re upset. It’s a turning point. You’re letting go of the old destructive pattern and turning inward by naming your uncomfortable feeling.
To name it, ask yourself, “If I am having an uncomfortable feeling, what is it?
Categories of Feelings
Is it SAD, MAD, GLAD, FEAR, SHAME, or NUMB?” It’s probably not glad.
Be present and feel into the feeling. As you feel into it, let’s say, for example, you feel the feeling as hurt. Hurt is part of the sad category. You’ve identified the feeling by giving it your undivided attention.
All your feelings want is your attention and love. Similar to what a child wants. Your feelings are there to inform you that something isn’t quite right. They discharge when you acknowledge them in a compassionate and non-blaming way. That’s an important part of understanding how to process emotions. They don’t like to be repressed. They need your attention, just like a child does. This is your inner child wanting your attention.
Each type of feeling causes a certain response in the body.
- Have you ever consciously noticed how fear feels in your body, compared to sadness?
- Or how anger feels, compared to shame?
- What does it feel like in your body when you are numb and can’t feel anything at all?
- Sadness, for example, is a heavy energy, whereas fear is a tense or nervous energy.
- Anger is a fiery and often explosive energy.
Become aware of the different types of feelings, of how and where they occupy your body. This is an important awareness to have for knowing how to process emotions. You take care of yourself in a more conscious way when you are tuned in like this.
3. Nurture the Uncomfortable Feeling
Once you know what type of feeling you are experiencing, you can proceed to the third N, which is to Nurture it. This is an important step for understanding how to process emotions. You may know that you are hurt, and you’re able to name that emotion. However, if you don’t go to the third step, which is to Nurture it, then you’ll likely fall back into your old patterns of overeating or other destructive behaviors.
To nurture the feeling, notice where it is in your body. To begin, place one hand on your heart, and the other hand on your belly, or wherever you feel the emotion in your body.
Become present in your body. Start to breathe into the feeling. Give it your undivided attention. This is where your feelings are, in the body. With your hands on your heart and your belly (or wherever you have placed them), you are literally holding the feeling.
Then as you hold the feeling, begin to breathe into it and be present with it. Begin to nurture the feeling as a loving parent would. Hold your uncomfortable feeling like a baby. Ask yourself, “What is this emotion all about?”
For example, let’s say that your partner yelled at you. You notice you are feeling an emotion. You get present with your body and are able to name the emotion: hurt. Once you are aware of what the feeling is, you become compassionate and nurture yourself regarding this issue. You take care of yourself in a deeply emotional way when you can develop this self-nurturing skill of how to process emotions.
4. Discover Your Core Need
Then go to the fourth N, which is to uncover the Need. Under every uncomfortable emotion is an unmet need. With one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly (or wherever you have placed them), ask yourself, “What do I need?”
This is a powerful question to ask yourself when you are upset about a situation. It will help you stay out of “story,” which keeps you in your head. When you are in your head in such a situation, you give your power away.
Your power comes from understanding what your soul wants to show you. It wants you to grow, learn, and live a more expanded life. Your soul does not want you to stay in drama, sabotage, victim, or “stuff it” energy. It doesn’t want you to stay in a confining box constructed from limited belief systems. And it wants you to expand into greater awareness.
Your feelings are the magical source for greater awareness. They can help you feel more empowered as a woman when you understand the underlying unmet need. Addressing the unmet need translates into more aliveness in your body because this is a process of learning to love and acknowledge yourself. It is a process of honoring your emotions instead of repressing them. This is how you learn to lead your life from a place of love by cultivating it from within.
You Take Care of Yourself by Validating Your Uncomfortable Emotions
Look for what is under your uncomfortable feeling. It helps you uncover a core unmet need. Understanding your core need and embodying it is empowering. Your uncomfortable emotions are valid. Don’t dismiss them. Instead, uncover the unmet need and either give it to yourself, request it from another, or both. It will steer you back to a state of balance. This process will help you understand yourself on a deeper level.
Knowing your needs and how to meet them is empowering. When I refer to knowing your needs, I am not referring to your desire to have someone change their behavior. You can never control another’s actions. The only actions you can control are yours. I am referring to core needs. A core need is not saying to your partner, “I need you to stop being a jerk.”
Learning How to Process Emotions – You Realize Having Needs Doesn’t Mean You’re Needy
Core needs are normal and natural. It doesn’t mean you are needy. Core needs are such things as compassion, understanding, clarity, cleanliness, and gentleness, to name a few. In the example I gave of your partner yelling at you, causing you to feel hurt and sad, maybe your core need would be gentleness.
By putting your hands on your heart and your belly, you are already giving yourself that which you need. You have already begun, by doing the 4N process, to give yourself what you need.
Now, feeling aware and centered as opposed to emotional, and knowing that your core need is a desire for gentleness, you can go back to your partner and request that. When you do this, you help prevent unnecessary drama in your relationships.
You definitely won’t get your core need for gentleness met if you say to your partner, “You are such a jerk for yelling at me. Don’t do it again.” INSTEAD, when you uncover your core need and embody it, meaning you feel you are worthy of it, and you own the statement “I need gentleness,” you can say to your partner, “Honey, when you yelled at me, it really hurt. I felt sad. What I need is gentleness. Would you be willing to be gentler with me in the future?”
Your partner may not be perfect, however, with this type of request, if asked sincerely, will help your partner see things in a different way. By you seeing things in a different way through using the 4N process you shift the energy dance in the relationship.
Start Believing Your Needs are Valid
This type of request will only work if you mean it, embody it, and speak it from your heart. Knowing inside yourself that your needs are valid. The 4N’s will help you develop a more compassionate relationship with yourself. Once you have discovered your core need, you then must believe you are worthy of having that core need met, 100 percent.
If you don’t feel you are worthy of it, your request won’t come from your heart; it’ll come from your head. You may request to be treated gently, but you can’t convince another person to be gentle with you if you don’t believe you are worthy of it.
That’s what I mean by embodying and feeling deserving of your core need. When you do this, your whole “being” becomes empowered. Your energy isn’t scattered or confused; it is centered and stable. When you “people-please” to the detriment of your needs, it weakens your life force energy.
Use the 4N process any time you have an uncomfortable feeling. Half the battle will be to remember to do it and to take the time to process your emotions.
Old habits die hard. You may do it and then slip and not do it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t process your emotions productively every time. You are human, learning a new way of living and loving. It is a lifelong process of opening to love.
Remember to put your hands on your heart and belly when you are upset. Learn to be there for yourself so you won’t create unnecessary drama in your relationships. You’ll come to your senses by sensing into your body (not your mind) when emotions arise.
It’s all about taking care of oneself and BEING in your body. When you speak your feelings, remember to use “I” statements instead of “You” statements to take full responsibility for your feelings.
How to Process Emotions Involves Exploring Your Needs and Feelings
The 4N process explores needs and feelings. Knowing your needs, and how to get them met, is empowering. You take care of yourself in a deeply emotional way when you practice this process and make it part of your life.
Set aside ten minutes or more, then get centered by taking a few breaths. On a piece of paper write down ten of your core needs. Remember, core needs don’t involve making someone else do something such as, “I need my husband to help with the housework.” Instead, a core need in that situation could be a need for cleanliness. Other core needs, for example, might be gentleness, connection, patience, and support. What are yours?
When you practice this new way of communicating with yourself and others, you’ll feel less heaviness in your body. This type of communication “technique” is not really a technique, because if you are not in your heart, it won’t work. It is a way of learning how to give your heart and body – instead of your mind – a voice.
I’m Anna-Thea an author and Certified Divine Feminine Educator. If you’d like to learn more about taking care of yourself emotionally and have me teach you “in person” how to process emotions, check out my online course. There, I teach you all about it and also guide you through the 4 N process.
Much love! 🙂