If you have been following my blog(s) for a while you know that I write about emotions a lot. I write about them a lot because I think about them a lot. I think about them a lot because I have them a lot. And because it can be hard to make sense of what to do with them.
Emotions can be good. We feel love, joy, peace. They can be “bad.” We feel angry, hurt, jealous. They can last a long time or a short time. They can feel in our control or out of our control.
We can act on them consciously. We can act on them out of auto pilot. We can use them to build and to destroy.
We can stuff them down. We can ignore them. We can power through them. We can eat/drink/shop/numb them away.
The challenge in all of this isn’t that we have emotions. It’s that we don’t really know what to do with them.
As I think about this today, I am asking myself: what is my perspective on emotions? And what’s the best way to ‘deal’ with them?
So here’s where I’m at at this juncture in my life, based on all of the reading and feeling I’ve done to date:
Emotions are signals. We need to look at them, but we needn’t take them at face value. Sometimes they are overblown, louder than they necessarily need to be. If we can take them for what they truly are, an indicator of something to be looked at, we can use them to inform our actions.
We have no problem with good emotions and so we treat them exactly as we should: we feel them, fully. We listen to what they are telling us: and because what they’re telling us is that we like something, we have no problem actioning on that by repeating that behavior.
We have big problems with bad emotions. We don’t like to feel them. So we freak out and do all the wrong things: we don’t let ourselves feel them. We try to squash them or make them go away in any way we can. We let them spill over into other areas of our lives or we let ourselves be lead by them. And all kinds of other bad behaviors ensue like shame, blame etc.
As human beings, we are not the best at interpreting our own emotions. Many of us don’t really have the vocabulary. As I mentioned, we tend to over blow bad emotions, and so often in our search to expunge them, we misinterpret or misdiagnose them. We make problems where problems needn’t be.
I believe the best way to “handle” emotions is to:
let ourselves feel them fully and be kind to ourselves in the process of feeling them (this is where coping mechanisms come in very handy: how can i get myself back to homeostasis? how can i be good to myself right now?)
appreciate that they are signals, not facts, and resist the urge to act on them immediately (especially during the height of the emotion) — see above about coping mechanisms
recognize they are not forever, but are constantly changing and shifting
work through them when needed (again, when the charge has reduced is best)
with a trusted partner or professional (seriously the best route IMO)
by journaling and checking in with our source of truth (intuition, belly)
by asking for the help of whatever ‘ force’ you turn to for help
I’m definitely not perfect at any of this - sometimes I get v. carried away, sometimes I need to fix immediately, sometimes I lose myself going down the wrong path.
But I try my best, and that is all we can do. And I am getting better.
What’s your perspective? Would love to hear from you.