I second that emotion.
July 31, 2012 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know how to prevent becoming verklempt?

I will try to keep this explanation short and sweet.

I get verklempt all the time. It could be anything. A happy commercial, newborns, weddings, good music, crowds of happy people, crowds of sad people...other people getting emotional, other people feeling proud, etc. So many instances of other people's emotions that make me get that verklempt feeling. The Olympics has me teary-eyed the whole way, I can barely watch it.

Any tricks to keep yourself from becoming verklempt or to short circuit the verklempt feeling?
posted by Grlnxtdr to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
About the only way to do this is to remove yourself from situations that cause this.

Each individual is emotional along a spectrum from what your saying to the other end where it's hard for a person to get worked up about anything.

You can try some behavioral tricks, but I doubt you'll get results. Try thinking of something else when these feelings come along. Use negative reinforcement, etc. But honestly, at the end of the day, many people envy people that feel things deeply.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:39 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: I totally feel you. There's a very specific swelling-music/implied-heroism thing that gets me even in commercials. I don't stress about it too much, but a) breathe evenly and b) look up. It doesn't stop the sensation, but it lets it pass without actual tears or loss of composure.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:41 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: restless_nomad hit it on the head for me (also anything with dogs. especially heroic dogs) but I thought I should also mention that when I had just started therapy for anxiety and was processing lots of old emotions, I experienced a lot of "flooding" or feeling totally overwhelmed by my emotions after something triggered it. I still cry at soppy commercials, but it isn't as often as when I had some stuff to work through.
posted by brilliantine at 12:50 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have found learning relaxation techniques through guided meditation/guided visualization recordings to be very helpful in putting the brakes on emotional upwellings. For whatever reason, the harder you try to fight and struggle against the emotion, the stronger its grip on you. By learning to relax and calm/center your brain in any circumstance, it's easier to let the feeling go without "letting going" of your feelings.
posted by drlith at 12:54 PM on July 31, 2012

This may not be much of an improvement viz emotional wellbeing, but maybe it'd be helpful to distract yourself from sentimental outpourings if you were to recognize those instances when your emotions are being deliberately manipulated (commercials, etc.), and then just seethe with resentment about it.

Works for me!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mute the TV. I have found most of the time that my reactions to things are exacerbated by the background music, those sad ads aren't half as mushy without the soundtracks. If you want to watch the back stories to the Olympics mute the commentator and soaring background music and put on the subtitles. Can't help you with real life situations though I am still trying to find the hack that stops me crying in RL all the damn time.
posted by wwax at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2012

This happens to me all the time when I read to my daughter. Not with any old kids' book, but with ones that pull the heartstrings in ways that relate to my relationship with my kid.

Removing myself from the situation isn't an option. Neither is avoiding the situation by not reading those books, because then I'd be depriving my daughter of something.

I'm noticing that, as I do this more and more, I'm developing emotional skills for keeping it in check. So I guess I'm saying: soldier on, maybe it'll get easier.
posted by gurple at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2012

So inside my head lives a stuff old schoolmarm.

Any time I get overwhelmed - which is often, like this morning when I was listening to the soundtrack from Moonrise Kingdom *sigh* - she becomes alert. She sits up straight in her very utilitarian and uncomfortable chair, and raps her knuckles on her desktop. Then she says, "Tut tut, that's enough of that now. Stiff upper lip and all that." And she gives me a look that says "Honestly, I can't believe you were about to let yourself go like that."

On the one hand, she is a proxy for my own disappointment in myself for allowing myself to get emotionally riled up at inappropriate* times. On the other hand, she's just kind of hilarious, and it is hard to stay in that weepy state of mind when she is peering at me over those cats-eye spectacles.

So, yeah. That's what works for me.

*I'm not sure most of the times are ACTUALLY inappropriate. I think therapists might take issue with my personal definition of when and how I am allowed to feel my feelings. But sometimes it just isn't helpful to be all weepy and off-kilter, and so I will persist in my decision to avoid coming apart at the seams every time I put my headphones on or fire up YouTube.
posted by jph at 1:50 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

I say embrace it and be unashamed of feeling deeply.

Acknowledge it, feel it, and move on. It's a blessing, not a curse. Celebrate being able to connect emotionally with the world and the stupid sad joyous frightening exultant tumult of it all.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:51 PM on July 31, 2012 [17 favorites]

If it's actually an inappropriate time to be all emotional, I find it helpful to be mindful of some very minute detail until the feeling passes. I might pay attention to the feeling of breathing, as it goes through my nostrils. Or I might try to come up with the precise right name for the color of someone's shirt (sort of a bluish forest green, but with a hint of ivy leaves...).

That said, it's not bad to feel things. If you're breaking into tears at your desk during the day, try some distraction tricks. If you're home on your couch with family or by yourself, don't worry about it.
posted by vytae at 2:11 PM on July 31, 2012

Like restless nomad, I find looking upward to help. Eye position downward, slightly closed eyelids makes it easier to get leaky; looking up seems to pull me out of it.

Emotionally, fury at those manupulative bastards who are poking at my heartstrings with their clublike subtlety (insurance commercials, heroic dogs, etc) seems to help. Other times, it seems fine to just acknowledge that it really is sweet (weddings, a good movie, etc), and just go with it.
posted by aimedwander at 2:26 PM on July 31, 2012

I am wondering if you have blood sugar issues (maybe even unidentified ones). Stabilizing my blood sugar has made me less prone to this. Also, getting generally healthier has made me generally more able to handle strong emotions without it being so overwhelming and without this sense of loss of control. I experience strong emotions differently than I used to. I am still a very emotional person, but more grounded, I guess.
posted by Michele in California at 4:01 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: Pressing the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth as hard as I can helps sometimes.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:48 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: There is an acupuncture pressure point about an inch below your wrist where your thumb meets your hand – google "hoku point" for images. If you dig your thumb into the hoku point on the opposite hand (left vs. right isn't important, whichever's more comfortable) it will distract you from verklemptheit.
posted by zadcat at 6:42 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you feel this way when you are angry? I deal with this same issue, but probably in a much more minor way. When I do feel the need to not get teary-eyed or upset, I think of something that really makes me mad. Mad for me does not generally mean tary-eyed. This clears it up for me. It also eventually stops working, i.e. the thing I'm angry about loses its power. But that's good, right? So its a two-fer!
posted by Kitty Cornered at 12:56 PM on August 1, 2012

Best answer: Do math in your head. Even basic math helps. It's a trick I learned at an HR seminar years ago; supposedly it switches your brain from the emotional to the logical, thus turning off the cry response. It doesn't work once you really get going, but if you can cut yourself off with the pass with a little addition, it's really quite effective.

I have a problem with crying when I'm angry (as do a lot of women) and it's incredibly unprofessional, so I've used this trick many times successfully.
posted by carolinecrane at 6:42 PM on August 1, 2012

Response by poster: Thankfully, I am not crying each time, but getting "misty".
posted by Grlnxtdr at 5:13 AM on August 2, 2012

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