Multiple Emotions all at Once!

By Lauren Heinrich, AMFT

Change is a part of life. Sometimes it feels good, like getting a promotion. Sometimes it hurts, like having to end a relationship. We tend to categorize our transitions as “good” or “bad” and expect the emotions we feel to match. It can really be confusing if our feelings don’t match what we expect.

Let’s take starting a family as an example. Having your first child is supposed to be a magical, joyous experience. What are new parents supposed to do if they feel mixed emotions about having a child? It doesn’t feel right to admit to being upset that they won’t have the same amount of freedom as they did before their first kid. Or let’s consider the mixed feelings that might come with taking a promotion at work. Who wouldn’t be excited about a pay raise? No one wants to admit they feel anxious about the new responsibilities, or how their relationships with their old coworkers will change.

These are simple examples, and real life is far more complex. Complex situations will bring up complex emotions. So what are we to do when how we feel about change doesn’t match how we think we should feel? The first step is simple to acknowledge the mismatch. Don’t try to ignore the fact that you feel sad when you think you should be excited. You are human, and you are allowed to have complex emotions. Feeling sad or anxious doesn’t mean you can’t also feel happy or excited, and vice versa. There is no rule that says you are only allowed to feel one thing at a time.

Once you’ve acknowledged that you have mixed different feelings, you can do something about them. Try talking it over with a trusted friend. They may have experienced something similar, and might have insight that could help you feel less isolated. Remember, you aren’t the first person to feel mixed emotions. Another practical step could be to write the feelings down. Sometimes, just looking at the situation in black and white is all it takes to spark new insight. If these tactics don’t do the trick, consider making an appointment with a therapist or counselor. Therapy doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. Sometimes all you need is a few sessions with a professional trained in new perspectives.

The bottom line is, feelings come in all shapes, sizes, and combinations. Feeling too many things at once can be overwhelming. When you feel like your feelings are stacking up too quickly, the first thing to do is simply to acknowledge where you are at. The second step is to talk to someone. Like I said, therapy doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Therapy can be that extra little boost to help you figure out what you want and how to get there when life gets complicated. Ultimately, good therapy should equip you to handle life, not make it more complicated.

Lauren Heinrich is an associate marriage & family therapist under the clinical supervision of Jessica Wilkerson, LMFT 104464.

Lauren has a warm personality and calming demeanor.  When you’re in the room and talking with her you can feel that she’s genuinely listening to understand and wants to help sort through whatever might be hurting, confusing, or frustrating you.

Especially gifted at seeing two sides of the same coin, Lauren is able to give a perspective shift that often leads people to an impactful a-ah moment.  Lauren works with client in-person in Chico and she has clients meet with her via telehealth from all over California.  To learn more about Lauren or to set an appointment, click the button below to go to her bio and appointment request form.

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