Human beings are equipped with many spectacular features. We have cognitive thinking skills and opposable thumbs. Our stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve metal. Speaking of stomachs, if we had to remove the stomach, spleen, one kidney, 80% of the intestines and 75% of the liver we could still survive.
We also have emotions. Tons of them. And for some, it’s hard to regulate emotions and react appropriately under certain circumstances. A simple trigger for someone who has difficulty managing emotions might send them into a tailspin; we are talking a complete mental breakdown.
Whereas another person who successfully controls emotions could have a completely different, and much more sensible, reaction. It would seem logical to fight emotions which might bring on an unwanted reaction, however that’s not really dealing with them.
Basically avoiding emotions just tucks them away in a little box. And the next time the box is disturbed, the same emotions are right there waiting to be released… rather unleashed… on some poor unsuspecting soul. It’s not healthy and certainly not effective.
The next time emotions seem unmanageable, try the following steps:
Accept & Allow Emotion
We all have them. It’s a part of life. Anxiety, sadness, anger, happiness… and that’s just the main four. There are many, many more. The funny thing is, emotion doesn’t require action. We, as humans, have assigned a specific action, or reaction, to any given emotion we’ve encountered.
It starts in early childhood and develops as we age and mature. We are the only ones in control of the reaction. So the next time a disturbing emotion hits, stop and breathe. Accept the presence of this emotion. And don’t act.
Decode the Emotion
With each emotion, look for the code. Our emotions are like little puzzles and until we figure out the code, we can’t answer the questions the emotion is trying to ask. For instance:
- Anger – “Who or what is attacking my person or values?”
- Happiness – “What have I achieved, acquired or increased?”
- Anxiety – “Who or what is causing me fear?”
- Sadness – “What have I lost, forgotten or misplaced?”
Those are examples of what the four main emotions might be trying to figure out. Like a Rubix cube, turning rows and columns to get all of the colors aligned on the same side, our minds are trying to process the depths of the present emotion to make sense of it all.
Challenge the Vantage Point
Remember the Rubix cube? It has six sides. Try to consider this decoded emotion from all vantage points. See it from all sides and angles and consider all the possibilities. The bigger picture is easier to comprehend than an isolated moment in time.
When arguing with a loved one, sometimes it gets heated. Try to see it from their perspective. When a child becomes fussy and obstinate, our first emotion might not be pleasant but then we tend to look behind the scenes.
Perhaps the child is hungry or tired and hasn’t yet figured out how to communicate it. Adults are no different. Challenge the vantage point. It could be a game changer!
Develop a Game Plan
Now is the time for action. Or, no action at all. The emotion has been broken down, decoded and then assessed from all angles. Here is where we get to decide the next step. For the argument with the loved one, maybe a greater explanation is necessary, so they have a complete understanding the entire situation.
Maybe both parties need to walk away and come back to the conversation much calmer and ready to listen. For the situation with the child, instead of growling or getting upset with the tantrum, sympathize, express to them their need for sleep or food and guide the child in the right direction.
Reflect, Revise & Forgive
We are our own worst critics. The important thing in managing emotions without fighting them is to reflect firstly on what happened and then secondly the response the emotion triggered.
The first may beyond our control, but the second isn’t. Be completely honest with yourself and decide if your response was the best approach for all concerned, including self. If not, revise the plan and do better next time. And lastly, forgive.
We all make mistakes. We all act out of proportion to the situation at one time or another. Self-forgiveness is crucial to grow and learn from the event. Emotions run through us all day long.
The next time an unpleasant emotion seems to have a tight grip and won’t let go, take a few minutes to follow the steps above. Call the mind and spirit and allow rational thoughts to dictate the next move. Don’t be a victim to emotions, take control and don’t fight them.