Navigating the Urge to Feel

In my very early adulthood, there was a popular song called “Born to Be Alive.” Its message was a very upbeat, motivating, but simple one. Enjoy being alive. Most people support that message, but have no idea what being alive is really all about.

Science is studying and finding out how our perception of life and our emotions are tied closely together. It doesn’t stop there. Our cognition (the process through which we acquire understanding using thought, experience and the senses) is also linked to our emotions. We have a biological drive to feel. And those emotions help us learn, understand, and navigate the world we live in. We all possess this drive. But as HSPs, we experience the emotionality portion much differently than our counterparts.

We as HSPs feel our emotions deeply. Our gifts, through these deeply felt emotions, contribute value to the world around us. But those deeply held emotions can become overpowering very quickly, impacting our health and well-being. We, as HSPs, especially need to take precautions to defend ourselves against any overwhelm that may develop.

The good news is that we do have control over the amount of overwhelm we might experience. We can take command of our emotions through a concept called emotion regulation.

Image courtesy of SarahRichterArt on Pixabay.


We have feelings. Large, powerful, captivating feelings. These feelings are gateways to our compassion, empathy, and ability to sense that which in our environment is hidden from non-HSPs. Denial may be the “easy” answer to cope with the enormity of those feelings. But it is not the solution.

Elaine Aron, PhD, who is the pioneer in this field and has spent decades studying sensory processing sensitivity, believes that the answer is found in emotional regulation. We need to gain mastery over our ability to influence the emotions we have, choosing the appropriate time and expression of them.

Emotional regulation begins with acceptance of our feelings, confronting and banishing the shame we may possess in having them. You are capable of regulating your emotions. If bad feelings arise, know that they will not last long. Keep a positive attitude that you can do something about them.


Once you have accepted that your emotions are part of who you are, and that they are important to your perception of the world around you, you must believe that you do have control over them.

Start by acknowledging the emotion you are feeling at the moment. Are you controlling it or is it controlling you? What is happening in your mind and body at this moment? Awareness helps put the emotion into perspective.

Now, look at it even further. What brought about this emotion? Are there steps you can take to change the way you feel at this moment? Can you reframe the situation? If not, look into ways that you can confront the emotion. Use positive self-talk, or take yourself out of the situation (by removing yourself from the environment, etc.)

Honing Your Skills

Doing certain practices while you are not in the grips of a difficult emotion helps put you in the right frame of mind for those times when they develop:

  • Work on your patience;
  • Increase your mindfulness;
  • Do meditation;
  • Write in a journal or diary;
  • Confide in a trusted friend.

Emotional regulation is a way to gain control over your emotions. Strengthening your control over overpowering emotions allows you to live a fuller life, enjoying the array of emotions you have and learning what they have to teach you.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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