We are not responsible for emotions, but of what we do with emotions.
Happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, fear and disgust. These are six emotions that Paul Ekman classified as basic ones.
Did you notice that out of these 6, only several are “accepted” by the society we live in? Happiness is the one.
Do you agree that we try to live in a “happy” society? And depending on the cultural background the act of expressing emotions might be acceptable or not. I think that in majority of cases we avoid sadness, fear and anger. We consider that these are “wrong and evil” emotions. Remember last time you felt these “wrong” emotions, what is the first reaction of your family, your friends, people that care about you? That’s right, the first thing they offer is their consolation, their understanding and trying to cheer you up. This is what we expect from them. But what happens next? We try to pretend that nothing has happened, that the sadness will be gone soon, and we keep up.
We try to cover our negative emotions. And this is a trap.
There is nothing wrong about being sad or angry!
Let’s drill down a little bit more and find out how can we become more emotionally intelligent.
There is only one way – respecting our emotions. Identifying them. Analyzing them after, especially if these are our “wrong” emotions.
The question is – how can we become more aware and emotionally balanced with our negative emotions?
Step 1 – IDENTIFY your emotion. Name it. Be specific.
Let’s take an example of sadness. If you feel it, accept it first. “Yes, I feel sad”.
Step 2 – Find out the REASON behind. There is always a reason behind!
“I am sad because I failed this time. This is the reason behind”.
Step 3 – EXPRESS it.
If you are sad, let yourself cry instead of pretending that all is fine and smiling to your friends. Permit to feel this emotion, why would you pretend that all is fine, when in reality it’s not? The only way to deal with it in a healthy way is to express it (you might want to do this at home).
Step 4 – and this is important. Try NOT TO STICK to these emotions.
For example, you feel down one day, 2 days, a week – this might be natural process and reaction to loss, however if you feel sad during a long period of time? Constantly? If you stick to this emotion, to constant sadness, the next step is depression. This is no longer the emotion itself, but serious illness caused by changes in brain chemistry. Or another example would be anger, if you stick to this emotion, at a later stage you are at risk to have emotional isolation and deep feeling of loneliness.
That is why it’s so important to identify, to find out the reason and to express our “wrong” emotions, before they transform to illnesses.
Permit yourself to be imperfect. Be honest with yourself and allow to feel your emotions, because they are the only indicators about what is happening in your life and how you feel about it.
Remember that every painting consist of different palette, this is what makes it unique.
They key is to find balance with our “evil” emotions and convert them to our friends.
What is your strategy of dealing with negative emotions? Would be great to here your comments or practices!