One emotion, two emotion, three emotion, four.
We have so many, and sometimes in such rapid succession, how are we supposed to keep them in check or even pay attention to them?
Well, I sure do hope this blog post helps some small amount.
To start, how often do you try to take time and examine your emotions?
Why not now?
No really, do it now…
Examine an emotion you’re experiencing now
Once you’ve done that you’ve already started.
What was it? Were you pissed at me for making you wait while breaking standard MLA writing rules? Are you happy about maybe a guy that just texted you, or possibly sad that they took the office off of Netflix?
Once you’ve identified the emotion, then it’s time to look at how you tend to react when experiencing that emotion.
When you get sad about the office, do you then eat a tub of ice cream or crave another sweet, or do you go for an hour-long rage run while listening to 2000’s emo hits? Whatever it may be, jot it down. If you can, get 3-5 examples so that you can triangulate your actual response to the emotion, one time doesn’t necessarily mean you do that every time.
Now answer these questions:
- Would you react in a more positive or negative way
- Is the response healthy or unhealthy?
- Is that how you want to respond when you experience that emotion?
- If not, how would you ideally like to respond instead?
These questions should help provide you with a kind of filter to run your emotional responses through.
So after examining more how you respond, look at why you respond the way you do. Once you’ve come up with a reason, look even deeper into why. A phenomenal way to do this is using the ‘why’ technique.
Ask yourself the first why about whatever you came up with as your triangulation of the emotional response such as, “why do I get sad in circumstances that are completely out of my control?”
Then, whatever the answer is, ask yourself ‘why,’ again. Then do the process another time. Repeat this for about five or six ‘whys’ or until you really can’t go any further.
That’s likely one of your root ‘whys’ or somewhere on that path down was. I wish I could better describe how to pick out the root why, but it’s something you feel in your gut, it’s often the reason you really don’t want it to be, but just have to face facts and accept it.
For instance, when I “get angry about a minute detail not working how I want.’
The superficial why would be that “This thing should work the way I want it to work and I should be able to make it work that way.”
However, the deep why would be more along the lines of, “I need to feel a sense of control over my environment because there were moments in my childhood where I didn’t feel a sense of control and that scared me, so now I react with anger as a cover for the fear I’m feeling because I’m afraid of not having control over my environment.”
Damn. That’s like therapy. Just saved you thousands of dollars, you’re welcome.
Totally kidding, therapy is important and helpful, do therapy. However, this can help you better communicate with your therapist about what’s going on with you, and you’ll be able to get more bang for your buck from the therapist.
I digress, the next step in this process is to keep tallies of how you react whenever you experience the emotion as you move forward. Look at how you react, just work on noticing it, don’t expect to act any other way, just pay attention to the emotion as it flows over you. No, you won’t have to do this forever, set a time when you’ll look back on the tallies and proceed with the next step. However, you might find it just becomes a natural habit.
Okay, you’ve done a great job, and a tremendous amount of work, not it’s time for the hard part. Making a change. Now that you really know all about why you respond to an emotion in a certain way, it’s time to try and change the response, if you find that necessary to do of course.
Luckily you’ve already done this in the process, just look back and see how you answered the question, “how would you ideally like to respond instead?” Take that, and create a strategy around it.
When I feel myself getting angry about something is not working the way I want it to, now I’ll appreciate the item for what it has done for me, and all the things it does well. Then, with enough discipline and practice, I’ll eventually create a new, more healthy, and productive habitual response to an emotion.
Didn’t expect to do some work on yourself when you clicked this like did you!? Well, I’m glad you hopefully actually examined an emotion, and if you didn’t will in the future. At the very least I’m grateful you read until the end of this blog.