STRESSProfessionalDemystifying Emotions – One First Responder At A Time

Demystifying Emotions – One First Responder At A Time

By: Sara Westbrook

You may be able to fool yourself into believing that by ignoring or suppressing emotions you won’t have to face them. Wrong.

When you think about truly sharing your emotions, would you prefer to leave the conversation or conveniently find something else to talk about? Maybe it’s because you don’t know how you are feeling or maybe you want to shout “none of your business!” Or is it because you think sharing emotions makes you look weak?

I’m not a firefighter, nor a first responder. I admire the work you do and the dedication you have for helping others. You see what I and many hope to never see. I don’t know what you have gone through so I am not going to pretend I do, but I do know that your experiences trigger emotions.

Expressing emotions can be tough

It can feel overwhelming and vulnerable. You can even feel guilt or shame for feeling the way you do. Giving yourself permission to feel your own emotional pain is essential so that you can show up and continue the extraordinary work you do, plus be available for your family, friends, community and most importantly…FOR YOURSELF.

As human beings we enjoy feeling comfortable — ever heard a mattress commercial? All the marketing company has to do is focus on how comfortable the mattress is — SOLD!  We LOVE comfortable. Emotions are not always comfortable. They are messy, awkward and can feel down-right painful, both mentally and physically.

You may be able to fool yourself into believing that by ignoring or suppressing emotions you won’t have to face them. Wrong. Not acknowledging your emotions only fans the flames of torment, regret and emotional and mental fatigue.

Emotions aren’t the enemy

Emotions are a natural and normal part of the human experience. Emotions are the one thing we all have in common. We may not have experienced the same circumstances — but we have all felt angry, sad, anxious, annoyed, frustrated and disappointed. Isn’t it comforting to know you’re not alone? 

Surprise, expressing your emotions helps to:

  • boost happiness
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • build resilience
  • improve communication
  • establish stronger relationships
  • create empathy
  • bring harmony and well-being to your mental and physical state

So, instead of suppressing your emotions, allow yourself to get uncomfortable by acknowledging your emotions and by sharing them with others. You will discover you are not alone. You will also be giving permission to others to speak up about their emotions. 

Name and validate your emotions 

There is a release that happens just in saying your emotion out loud, “I’m feeling sad.” Validate your emotions, instead of making yourself feel bad, wrong or weak for feeling. You are allowed to feel. You are supposed to feel. 

Release emotions in a healthy way

Create a list of healthy ways to move through your emotions. This will help you to get clear about strategies that are helpful. Post it somewhere that can serve as a reminder. When you are experiencing an uncomfortable emotion, you can easily forget what helps you move through. 

You would never take dead batteries, place them in a flashlight and expect it to shine — yet there are times you will drain yourself emotionally and stick yourself into work, relationships and conversations and expect to shine. 

Reach out, ask for help and accept support. Your life depends on it!

Sara Westbrook is a professional speaker, author, singer and creator of in-person or virtual presentations and workshops for both adults and kids, aimed at strengthening relationships, resilience and emotional health. 

Over 500,000 people have been inspired by Sara’s enthusiasm, positivity, humour, and the transformational power of her message. When she is not presenting, writing or singing, she can be found in her kitchen whipping up yummy, healthy treats for her husband George and son Kai or at the arena, with coffee in hand, watching her son play hockey.

 To learn more, visit or

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