Do you lead what many believe to be a charmed life—some variation of: a successful, ladder-climbing career and a well-suited husband to match, a healthy diet, nice car, good friends, etc., and yet wonder why you feel so miserable when you have so much?
The truth is, many women today are less happy than ever, and it’s because they’re living in an emotional stone age. This is what I call The Misery Epidemic, which I write about in my forthcoming book The Misery Cure. Millions of women suffer from a feeling of disconnection in their relationships, lack intimacy with spouses and don’t know how to talk about any of it.
The problem? These women are living in a disempowered place and don’t know how to handle their Big 5 Female Emotions. These feelings are designed to send up red flags; however, we often misread them.
Here’s what these emotions are trying to tell you:
Fear: Many women have been taught from birth that there’s something wrong with them if they are too emotional, and that they need to keep their emotions in control. This creates a fear of letting your guard down and showing that you are vulnerable. You’re really afraid that speaking up about feelings will exacerbate the problem, but not talking about them is making it worse.
Anger: Anger for women in today’s culture can be like the F-word—it is thought to be totally inappropriate and uncalled for. It’s particularly not okay for women to feel or express anger in too extreme of a fashion or they will be labeled 'bossy' or 'entitled.' Instead of expressing anger, you suppress it and feel stuck., forcing you into a state of sadness or even depression.
Sadness: Your emotions are trying to serve you, but you are afraid of how they make you feel, so you stuff them deep down inside. By looking at your emotions as “Bad,” you feel like you should try to get rid of them. When they don’t go away (because the real problem hasn’t been addressed), you feel extreme sadness.
Anxiety: Anxiety is a result of not trusting yourself, and the more we don’t listen to ourselves the more we’ll struggle with anxiety. It’s like an awful merry-go-round that just never stops until we have the courage to jump off.
Frustration: There’s no emotion quite like frustration to make those wheels spin round and round. And you are, quite literally, stuck. Frustration, however, means you are viewing a situation too narrowly, based upon beliefs rooted in fear. Because you are buying into your fears rather than paying attention to your emotions, you are frustrated in feeling like you can’t bury your negative emotions.
Guilt: Guilt is about making you feel bad about who you are as a person—about doubting your worth. However, it’s also there to support you in reclaiming the aspects of yourself that have split off. You need to stop second-guessing your guilt and honor what it’s telling you.
In order to have the intimate emotional conversation your mind is trying to carry out, you need to use what I call the 5-Minute Misery Cure:
1. Identify how you feel
Write down all the emotions that are coming up for you. Now see which of the Big 5 is most related to how you feel. If you are feeling more than one of the Big 5, pick the emotion that wants to be addressed first.
2. Release your ego
Allow the ego’s version of what you are feeling to come through you. Write down all of your fears, objections and doubts. You want to be able to clearly identify what your ego is telling you on paper, rather than let the ego’s messages continue to run amok in your head.
3. Work from an empowered place
Now that your ego feels heard, there is space for your inner voice to come through. Write out what it means to you.
4. Take action
Identify one action step you can take to make an empowered action. Set a due date by which you will demonstrate that step through an actionable measure.
Sadly, despite the many freedoms woman have achieved, we are still behind the curve in terms of emotional awareness. We are growing but we have to communicate our needs if we want the world to grow with us. When we come out of the shadows and overcome our fears, we’ll feel more connected to our emotional selves, our closest relationships (partners, children, friends, co-workers) and finally be able to bring our new empowered self to the world.
Michelle Bersell, M.A., M.Ed., is an author, psychotherapist, and mother of three who teaches and speaks about emotional empowerment. Her forthcoming book, The 5-Minute Misery Cure: Solutions for Women Who Are Sad, Stressed, and Suffering in Silence, is due out in 2016. Download Michelle's Misery Epidemic Kit and find her on Facebook and Twitter.