During times of great uncertainty, human beings can feel a vast array of emotions. From fear to peacefulness to anger to indifference to hopelessness to encouragement to despair to. . .you get the idea. You see, uncertainty causes us to feel varying levels of instability and that can cause our emotions to bounce all over the place.
We feel more out of control of life and therefore our emotions follow suit. You can feel one emotion one moment and then a completely different emotion the next. This rapid changing of feelings can continue for extended periods of time because our usual ways of coping with change aren’t working. If you were to draw the emotions as dots on a page, they might resemble the night sky, with stars all over the place.
So, what helps us make sense of all those stars in the night sky? If we simply stare at them, they look like a giant jumbled mess of lighted dots. That may be how you feel about your emotions right now. Maybe you feel like you just can’t stop feeling like a giant jumbled mess inside.
But if you look for the constellations of stars in the night sky, what happens? You see pictures that create order from the jumbled mess. Now you’re able to not only see a bunch of stars as simply one thing, you’re also able to name that one thing. The Big Dipper, Orion, Aries, Gemini, etc.
This is exactly the same with a constellation of emotions. You may be feeling like a giant jumbled mess inside, but most of the time you can identify one overarching feeling. Your constellation of rapidly changing emotions does have one big picture. It might be challenging to see, but with some help, you should be able to find it.
Why is that important? In the same way that grouping stars into one picture brings order to chaos, mapping your emotions to one overarching feeling can identify the root cause of the emotional chaos. For example, you may be feeling worried, helpless, frustrated, irritated, apprehensive, cautious, and dreadful. There also may be some feelings of thankfulness and peacefulness mixed in with everything. Whatever the range of emotions is, if you process through them with someone, you may be able to find one feeling that is overarching everything. In this case, the root cause maybe fear.
Working on coping with the root cause brings order to all that you’re feeling, which can help alleviate the rapid cycling of emotions.
This process is difficult to give you a step-by-step approach because of the varying degrees with which people can label and process their emotions. So if you’re feeling a wide range of emotions, seek someone to help you “draw” the constellation. That could be your significant other, a wise friend, or a professional counselor. It can take time to wade through all that you are feeling to find that one overarching picture, but it will be worth it if you try.
I have been a counselor for 25 years. I am a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Counseling at the University of North Georgia. Schedule an appointment with me and let's see if we can draw the constellation and make order out of chaos together.