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Having a Sit-Down With Your Emotions

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

For news of the heart, ask the face. -West African saying

On a summer day a few years back, I was triggered and angry for almost an entire 24 hours. And I directed my rage toward one person. As it turns out, said person was inconsequential to my rage and was just a fellow traveler trying to figure out life. Later, after unpeeling that particular emotion, I saw things clearer. Turns out I wasn’t as angry; I was actually terribly sad, drenched in agony. And when I allowed myself to cry out that sadness, the anger diminished, leaving but a trail of vapor.

Sometimes, emotions get blurry. Our humanness, egos, pride, anxiety, fear, past experiences, and even our expectations of happiness, can confuse our current state of emotional engagement. We may find ourselves coiled up in an argument; but when other emotional debris clings on to the trigger point, our original emotion could transform into an abstract version of the authentic sentiment.

We are vulnerable to emotional detours. This is why it is important to take our emotions and label them with accurate vocabulary - one emotion at a time. For example, if you’re feeling sad, accept that you’re sad and follow the trail that got you there. If we take control of the language and labels, we can react accordingly to an emotion. Let's not allow misguided emotions, or detours, become your compass.

One exercise that helps me is to have a sit-down with my emotions.

Why not try this yourself? Have a conversation with your emotions. Ask what they are and how they got here. And then ask if they really are what they claim to be. You might be able to guide your mood down a more honest and constructive road, and perhaps gain a healthy scoop of wisdom along the way. Use the fuel.

Living means watching life take a whip to us on occasion. The whips of life can scar our minds. Why not disarm those whips? After allowing your emotions to play out, practice managing the anger, anxiety, frustration, helplessness, sadness, fear, loneliness. Challenge yourself to expand your view and take in the whole picture, the lesson, if you will. And tenderly walk your feelings to school. Do remember that pacing your feelings is important.

An article by Justin Bariso, in, reminds us that emotions have power. Bariso explains that emotional intelligence is the ability to harness that power, to understand and manage emotions, so that you can make decisions that are in harmony with your core values and principles. In short, pay close attention, infuse understanding and act accordingly. This takes practice...something I do regularly.

I leave you with a few quotes, tucked inside Bariso’s article:

"I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them."

--Oscar Wilde

"Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion." --Anonymous


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