Getting to know our emotions
Let me set the stage. It is a beautiful spring day and you are standing outside with one of your close friends when he says something to you the hits a nerve and, seemingly, for no reason you blow up at him in anger; yelling at him about what he said, with your friends left standing there completely stunned. Shortly after this interaction your friends asks you “Hey, what happened? Why did you blow up at me?” when you respond by saying “I have no idea, I just blew up”. This pattern repeats again and again over the next few months or years till one day you are left wondering “what do I do to stop this from happening?”. Often this situation arises from us lacking a relationship with are emotions.
Now imagine in the story above if you found out that the person who blew up had earlier that day had a break up? Would that change the perspective of why he might be having a “shorter fuse”? Or maybe he had a tough day at work. Often, however, we do not have a relationship with our emotions to understand why we are blowing up or shutting down which results in us continuing to repeat this situation over and over again. If we are unable to notice our emotions well our emotions will quickly lead us towards some form of a blow up, weather that is us screaming and yelling or us shutting down and staying in our room for the rest of the day. So, what are we to in order to prevent these blow ups?
How do we get to know our emotions
“Becoming intimate with our emotions is a challenge that we’d do best to wholeheartedly welcome” -Robert Augustus Masters
Becoming intimate with our emotions is truly a process that can take years, at this point I, personally, still do not feel fully intimate with my own emotions. In order to develop an intimate relationship with our emotions we must work to understand them and what our body is trying to tell us. Let’s take a dive into three ways that I find help with understanding emotions.
Mindfulness is a major catch phrase today, with everyone from Time Magazine to myself talking about, which at times has led me to avoid the idea of mindfulness because (as I talked about here https://www.healthforlifegr.com/manly-mindfulness-part-one/) I don’t want to do Yoga or sit like Rafiki from Lion King with my legs crossed meditating. But Mindfulness is more simply understood as being present and aware of your current surroundings. Why is being mindful helpful in understanding our emotions? Because we often ignore our emotions while we go through life’s business only to later have our emotions “catch up to us” and overflow. But if from time to time we slow down in order to feel our emotions we will find emotions are a less scary process. One of my favorite mindfulness exercises is to make a point to see at least one new thing on my way home from work because if I’m being aware of searching for new things than I am being more present.
2. Understanding out body
If I told you that often your body is trying to tell you what you are feeling long before your brain has processed the feeling you might look at me like I am crazy. Body mapping shows us that we feel emotions in our body and it is consistent across cultures. (Read about it here) With this in mind it is imperative that we work to understand what our body is saying about our emotions. One way that I have found that this has worked for me is to ask myself questions about what my body is feeling. “Am I hungry or anxious?” “is my face hot because of the temperature or because I’m getting angry?” these may seem like ridiculous questions but they could very well resulting in avoiding blowing up.
3. Having people you can talk about what is going on in your life.
They number one thing that works for me to avoid having emotional blow ups is to be open when talking to my wife and friends. If I had a bad day at work, and bills are due, and I’m tired it is incredibly important that I that I talk about this a try to explain what I am feeling. I will often tell friends and clients when they don’t know what they are feeling to “talk yourself into an answer.” I believe this is a very valuable way to talk about emotions. Just start talking and you will figure out the answer as you go along.
Start the Journey
“Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.”
I hope you will start the journey to a healthier relationship with your emotions. If you are unsure how to start understand your emotions I would recommend two things check out Emotional Intimacy by Robert Augustus Masters and make an appointment to see a counselor. In part three we will look at why it is so important that we understand and build a relationship with our emotions.