Often, I write about feeling one’s emotions. Stuffing down your feelings or lying about them leads to deep pain and bitterness. Instead of running away from negative emotions, I am learning to address them in a healthy, safe way.
Yet there are times when one cannot express their emotions discreetly. What if you are in an important meeting, class, or social setting? Do you leave the situation or do you stay despite your pain? Sometimes, I am triggered but am stuck in a certain place. Instead of breaking down with anxiety or pain, I need to pull myself out of the situation emotionally.
On Tuesday, I went to a speech tournament. For the most part, everything went well as I watched and learned how to present. However some of the presentations triggered me. Because leaving the room would have been rude, I sat anxiously with my eyes on the floor and hands clenched. Finally, the panic rose so high that I took out a book and began mouthing the words. Doing this disengaged me from the triggering speaker.
Disconnecting is a coping skill that can be overused but is important at the right times. As mentioned above, you might be unable to leave a situation or expose your true feelings. If so, you might need to check out of the moment mentally and emotionally.
There are several ways that you can use this coping skill. Perhaps focusing on something else like I did might work for you. Try reading something else, problem-solving a issue at home, formulating a list of things to do, or engaging your brain in an outside activity. If you need to look like you are paying attention, be careful not to look as if you are ignoring anyone. Remember that this coping skill is not about being rude but taking care of yourself.
If thinking about another subject is not enough for you, try doing something that engages your other senses. Read aloud quietly, physically write a note, or hum a tune. Again, be careful not to draw unneeded attention to yourself.
Perhaps you simply need a stimulus instead of mental disconnecting. Sucking on a mint, fingering a bracelet, flexing your feet, or gazing at a comforting color are some ideas that might help. Visualizing a beautiful or peaceful place might also calm you down in the moment.
Although this coping skill is important to learn, it should not be used lightly. Hiding your emotions and never addressing them is a dangerous habit. Also, you might need to leave the situation if you are struggling badly. Please do not take this post to me that you should stuff down your feelings or force yourself to stay in unhelpful places. This skill simply can be helpful if you need to be somewhere triggering without breaking down. Disconnecting may be difficult but helps one to make it through stress safely.