Great Advice, Self Improvement, Spirituality

Emotions — the most critical and challenging area in our lives

How I learned to not only control them but regulate them and have emotions help me rather than control my life.

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Emotions — it is a significant and scary subject. Yet we like to dismiss the issue disparagingly as “being emotional,” feelings are easily dismissed. — Without thinking, without facts, being an emotional mess, out of control, and so on. We all know plenty of examples from our own life and others. Emotions can wreak havoc on our lives. I had great difficulty dealing with emotions — so I decided the best would to not deal with them at all. Lock them away — don’t allow myself to feel — focus on my intellect. It felt safer.

But at some time in my life, I realized that this was counterproductive. When I honestly examined myself, I had to confess that I was an emotional mess; emotionally crippled. I was not able to build the kind of relationships I desired. — Especially with my family. I realized I needed to take some drastic steps and started to read about emotional control and anything that had to do with dealing with emotions. I began to observe myself — how I reacted in different situations — reflected on how I could have it handled differently, more effectively. It was a scary discovery — I felt I had discovered an enormous pile of junk I was not even aware of. I knew I loved my family dearly, but I was not able to express it the way I wanted to.

When I started with this process, I could not even imagine being able to change. But I am happy to say that this is different now. Now I make sure I don’t accumulate junk and digest or process everything properly. It is a great relief — I feel empowered. I am not at the mercy of my emotions any longer. I can also deal with even the most difficult people, which in turn gives a sense of confidence.

Over the years, I found that the field of Psychology has improved a great deal. I remember when I heard from others who have been in therapy for years trying to understand the “Why,” which proved to be useless. Then the discovery was made that we need to focus on the present — ” This is my issue — how can I deal with it; solve it.” That’s when Martin Seligman discovered “Positive Psychology” and changed the focus.

We have heard of or read books on:

“Emotional Intelligence”; which helps to understand ourselves and others on a deeper level. It was more emphasized in the workplace

“Emotional Fortitude”; strength in dealing with adversities

“Emotional Equilibrium”; remain calm, balanced in the face of turbulence in life

“Emotional Agility”; ability to be flexible — respond to situations as is required

I have been doing reasonably well in these areas. However, lately, I have thought that I needed to develop more courage. Particularly in the emotional sphere. I know many times I should say something — deal with something or people in my life. I know these issues left unattended will cause serious problems. I know I can deal with it, but I am not able to muster enough courage.

Emotional courage is to do something proactively; nothing outside or someone is forcing me to act. Only I know that “I should.” How can we get to that point? I could refer to having a conscience that is inactive because we have not acted on it for too long. I find it very difficult to speak up when I know I should. I wait until things come to a boiling point, and I react inappropriately at the wrong time — or as we call it “lash out at people who have nothing to do with the situation. When that happens, I am profoundly sorry and wished it did not occur. But the damage is done even if I apologize and try to explain.

“How can I avoid this in the future,” I have asked myself for many years. I envy and admire people who are so confident and can quickly deal with uncomfortable situations. For many of us, it so difficult we’d rather do anything else but dealing with it.

We’re so afraid of how someone might react or even worse how we might respond. The result would be worse! Therefore we reason it is better not to do anything.

I have made good progress in the areas mentioned above. But I still struggle with “emotional courage.” I do know that with developing our muscles — courage can be generated by acting on it.

Many times I don’t share honestly, pretend, and I see others do the same. I have to confess that it takes courage every time I express how I feel. Why? What are our biggest fears? Don’t we trust ourselves and others that we mean well? We can avoid misunderstandings if we only dared to be honest.

I used to have more courage in that area when I was young. And as I recall — I had a stronger motivation to speak up when necessary. We usually show courage when we find ourselves in serious predicaments and no choice. But if it just a matter of “we should” that emotional courage becomes weak.

Emotions are our engine, motor, which we need to steer in the right direction. We cannot let them run wild. It will destroy us. Just think of all the different emotions-there used to be eight emotions — now we are aware of 27 different types of emotions? How many of them are positive, and how many are negative? I don’t think any of the emotions are inherently good or bad — but can have positive or negative effects on our lives. For example — Love, we would label that emotion as good. But Love in itself has the potential to do great harm if used in the wrong, selfish way. The opposite — Hatred we think is evil. But hatred for injustice, evil can motivate us to do good. We can see how important it is that we have an inner steering wheel and develop the capacity to become aware of our emotions and regulate our emotions.

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