Why understanding your emotions, will help you manage them

Recently, I was reading an article and I came across this statement:

“When we experience emotions without being controlled by them, it helps build strong, lasting, and rewarding relationships….”

Wait, what???  I went back and checked to make sure I’d read it right the first time:

“When we experience emotions without being controlled by them….”

Yes, that’s what I thought it said.

I’d only ever considered the “big” emotions really (happiness, sadness, anger, love, jealousy, etc.), and when I felt one of those, it was pretty obvious why, so I never really thought much more about it.  After reading this latest article however, I began to wonder “How am I supposed to take control of my emotions?”.

Anger, for example, was just there, winding me up.  I had every right to it! I was indignant and didn’t particularly want to control it.  Confident and ready to speak my mind at anyone who dared confront me on the matter, I would think to myself “go on, just try it”.  It was only once I’d calmed down that I felt embarrassed at being so forthright.  Was it in fact something I wanted to control?

It’s the same with jealousy – what was I meant to do with that?  It certainly wasn’t something I wanted to admit to.  I’d always believed it was a horrible trait to have and not one I was proud of, but there it was….. I’ll just sweep that under the carpet until it once again rears its ugly head.  How could I control it?

I was stunned, and since I first read that little gem of information, I spent a lot of time considering it.

During my life abroad, I’ve had a lot of time to myself (before the kids came along at least), and I’ve spent a lot of that time contemplating my thoughts and feelings (my friends would never believe it, but I’m actually a bit of an introvert). 

Why do I feel like this?  Am I doing this right? Why does that bother me so much?  How can I move on from this? Why can’t I just let that thought go?  Why do I care what others think?  What am I going to do with all these unpleasant feelings in order to make the most of my fan-tab-u-lous journey traveling the world?!  How would I know when I’d found the “right” answer?

Thankfully, over the last couple of years, I’ve become so much more self-aware and learnt so much more about my emotions.  I’m now able to understand why I react the way I do (publicly or personally), and be more confident in my actions.  The reason?

Because I know why I feel (and in turn, act) the way I do. I know what’s triggering me, which enables me to understand my emotions and do something to make myself feel better. I know what it is I’m actually trying to deal with – it’s not just a feeling I have no control over.

Think about it.  If you can understand your feelings, you’re one step closer to managing them.  Take this example…..

One of your children comes home from school asking to sign up for yet another after-school activity.  You instantly want to say no and feel a deluge of negative emotions coming up, but you’re not sure why.  Why on earth are you feeling negative about your child learning something new and socializing with other children?  Could it be because:

  1. You’re not sure you can afford it;
  2. Because you have to work too, you’re already concerned about how little you see the kids;
  3. You feel their time could be better spent practicing math, spellings or reading;
  4. You think they need more “down” time; they’re already exhausted most days and starting to act out;
  5. You’re not happy with the level of education they currently receive at other after school activities;
  6. You don’t want them to feel “entitled” to get everything they want.

Any one of these examples is a great reason for reacting negatively, but they’re all likely to need different management.  If you know where your emotions stem from, you’re in a much better place to find a solution to whatever is worrying you.

I’m not trying to say it’s always that easy.  I know there are some things we just can’t change, but there is always something we can do.  There is always some small step we can take to help resolve a problem/concern and make ourselves feel better.  Our emotions don’t have to rule over us. 

There are people out there in the world who really can feel an emotion and let it go.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do that, so this is the next best thing for me….. for now.

If you’re ready to get to the bottom of what’s really on your mind, let’s talk about it together. Contact me