Why is it that we have to deal with emotions? When someone reacts angrily or shows any negative emotion it seems to be uncomfortable for those around. Then, avoiding emotions may be a way to escape from being criticized or not accepted. However, according to a research article about dealing with feelings, personal suppression can have a negative impact on your social life and well being. The more a person tries to silence his or her emotions, the more difficulty this person is going to have recognizing and handling other people’s emotions. This makes sense, if you don’t have an awareness of your own self, how can you see the same in others? It also limits the ability to have empathy and compassion for both yourself and others.
Emotions Aren’t Bad
It is the way we react when we experience an emotion that can get us in trouble or not. I usually ask my clients what they think the purpose of emotions is. As with everything else in life, emotions do have a function. They give you important information about yourself and others. They help you interpret the internal and external world. How do we know if we enjoy something if we don’t feel it.
To understand this world of emotions more, it is important to understand emotions have been divided in two main groups, positive emotion like joy and happiness and negative emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear. Naturally, we tend to avoid the negative emotions, who wants to be sad, anxious, or guilty? However, not dealing with them can lead to further emotional pain if the information they provide is not considered, thus corrective measures won’t be taken. So, what do you do with emotions?
Here Are 6 Steps You Can Take to Ensure You Are Using Emotions to Your Benefit:
Pay attention on how you feel:
The emotions are there, it is just about reconnecting with them. When we were children we were able to express our emotions easily. Ask you parents! I’m sure they have a lot of stories about you crying or getting angry.
Explore to find triggers:
Ask yourself, what is evoking a particular feeling? It will help you to understand your behavior better. Please, don’t judge yourself. It is ok to experience anger or frustration if your boss asks you to stay late and you had plans to go to dinner with your spouse or friends.
Accept the feelings:
I will never tire of reminding you there is nothing wrong with experiencing negative feelings. It is healthy, it is part of life and it is important. What wouldn’t be constructive is to insult your boss because you think she or he ruined your dinner on purpose. Or to use passive aggressive behavior by talking bad about it with your co-workers.
Find the silver lighting:
Emotions tell you something isn’t working. So make it work! Are you sad because you didn’t pass that exam or get that job? Review what you could have done better and take that energy to prepare yourself for the next time. Make a firm decision that you will get better and become an expert in that. Use your anger and frustration to practice assertiveness. It’s not easy to say “no” to your boss, so that extra energy can be used to overcome the initial hesitation. Speaking up and set those boundaries today may save you future angry moments that may become resentment at some point. There is a caveat here, so try not to overthink it. It isn’t about stressing yourself longer than necessary, but to notice the emotion, find what trigger it, and use it to improve yourself.
Small victories are worth celebrating. Did you catch yourself feeling guilty or jealous today? If so, awareness of your emotions is improving! Find a way to praise yourself for small improvements.
Attend to your body’s response:
During each of these steps it is important to notice what is going on with your body. You may feel hot when angry, nauseous when afraid, or your heart could be racing when anxious. This is the way your body expresses emotions. Take a few minutes to focus on your breath until those bodily sensations lowered. Again, don’t judge yourself, it would be like criticizing your car when the oil light comes on. It is only information you are getting intended to prevent a future crisis.
Now, you have a new perspective about emotions that may be useful. What are you waiting for to get connected to your emotions and improve your life?