Emotions are our defining feature as human beings. We are emotional beings. We emote. But sometimes these highly volatile, pressing feelings, like a force of nature, get the better of us. And then, as the tables turn, we end up being controlled by our emotions.
When the emotions are in control, they dictate our thoughts, intentions as well as actions and ignore the sound and sensible warnings of our mind. We swing like a pendulum between two extremes – extreme gratification and extreme unfulfillment – and, somewhere on the way, we lose our perspective completely.
Let’s take the example for two people, Mindy and Kylie. These two ladies are good friends who often spend a lot of time together. However, they are very different people. Mindy is extremely impulsive. She is also sensitive, and the smallest incident is enough to rile her up. She complains about everything, from a change in weather to the queue at the teller. Kylie has a calmer disposition. She is more reasonable when it comes to her emotions. She doesn’t let small things get to her and takes them in her stride. She is also the happier person of the two.
We all aspire to become more like Kylie. There are however a few things standing in our way. I will explain these things in my blog post as I walk you through the steps you must take to manage your emotions better. Keep Mindy and Kylie in mind as you read on.
Acknowledge how you feel
When things affect you strongly, it is important to take a step back and acknowledge how you feel. The storm that rages inside your mind and heart needs to be calmed before you can make any rational decisions. Acknowledging how you feel, whether it’s negative or positive emotions, will help you gather yourself and keep from making biased decisions that are bound to fail.
We often override this step and press on with our decisions. This is what Mindy does too. Kylie, on the other hand, is more understanding of herself and takes the time to acknowledge her emotions before making any decisions.
Learn to forgive and move on
Forgiving others can have a very positive effect on our state of mind. The quicker we forgive, the easier it is for us to shed the emotional baggage we carry and move on. When we dilly dally with guilt, judgement or similar ill feelings, we are forced into a state of limbo and indecision. Long drawn battles with self like this can be very stressful and draining as well.
Make a habit of forgiving others and even yourself. Keep an open mind. Suggest a compromise that works for everyone involved. And stay constructive.
Take a moment before you react
Many of us feel the urge to react immediately even though we hear the voice in our head screaming “No” as we do it. Take a moment. Tear some paper. Punch a pillow or scream into it. Sleep overnight. Do anything that will distract you for those first few crucial minutes. Then when you are stable, think rationally, form your thoughts and make your decisions.
Mindy, from our example, is the first to react whenever there is conflict and sometimes, she is the reason for the conflict. Her inability to hold back has cost here many-a relationships and precious friendships. Kylie, on the other hand, prefers to go for a jog and wear down her distress before making her decisions.
Find a healthy outlet and vent
Emotional situations can last a very long time and manifest in unimaginable ways if they are not managed properly. Finding a constructive vent is essential. Art, craft, gardening, exercise – all these are fantastic avenues to explore. Talking to a friend or counsellor and sharing your emotions can be a cathartic and healing experience.
In her later years, Mindy has learnt that talking things over with Kylie can be a very calming experience for her. This has also led to a drastic improvement in her general behaviour. Kylie is a good person, but Mindy’s experiences are teaching her to be empathetic to people in distress.
Try to see the bigger picture
Being emotional can keep you from seeing the big picture. Whether it is what the other people involved in the situation are also going through, or it is the impact of your one careless thought and action. Being emotional can quickly become a blindfold and you cannot see the consequences of your actions.
Mindy is now learning to pay heed to the big picture. She is learning from Kylie about how to be positive and think creatively. She is learning from her past mistakes and taking the time to seek forgiveness from people she wronged.