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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

Making peace with your emotions

We are all different when it comes to our emotions. Whether we perceive them as positive or negative, we sometimes suppress them, at other times they overwhelm us and occasionally we manage to deal with them calmly and with dexterity. It all depends on the emotion and its context! So, we may be uncomfortable with our emotions at times and yet they are always there to serve us and inform us.

Of course we welcome joy quite easily – even though some might feel guilty about it – So, when sadness, fear or anger point on the horizon, if they are not recognized for what they are, trouble begins and judgments and limiting beliefs ensue.

When we feel an overflow of emotions we tend to either sink with them and have a bad time, or do everything we can in our power to silence them, or we rebel against them and have an equally bad time where we can chew the fat for days, weeks or more. Emotions are therefore often perceived as troublemakers that are there to ruin our lives. However, we are not powerless when facing our emotions, on the contrary, they are important allies that inform us on a daily basis.

Indeed, most of the time, an emotion is a signal that a need is fulfilled or not. If you get angry with someone, you may be confused by a lack of openness that you cherish so much, or a lack of politeness that you are used to, or a lack of detail and clarity that you would have brought, or a lack of perfection that you love etc ... Sadness often results from a lack of recognition, love or sharing and fear also often results from a lack of security, assurance, confidence etc. ...

In the event of a strong unpleasant emotion, it becomes interesting to refocus, name the emotion manifested and clearly identify the neglected or ignored need (s). This allows us to clearly name our emotions, and especially to seek out the needs behind them. Because once informed about our needs we understand ourselves better, we can in turn communicate better with ourselves and others and we can also put ourselves into action in relation to those needs.

If I get angry with my partner because I don't appreciate the things he leaves lying around in the kitchen, rather than unleashing hell on him, telling him a few home truths on the matter and sulking for a day or two to get my message across, it may be better for the both of us, if instead I first identify what is happening to me, what I need about it and what might help me in the context. In that case, I am not judging him, I am speaking only on my behalf and I invite him to help us find a solution that would work for us both.

We often think that emotions take over us and that there is nothing we can do about it, but with a little practice it's amazing how much can happen in a matter of seconds. The important thing is to take that little pause where you can ask yourself, "How am I feeling here? Why? It refers to what need? And what would I like about it?

Beware of false emotions, that is, when you show one emotion for another. Many women cry and display what looks like sadness at times when they are angry because they haven't necessarily learned to be angry. A parent will often react with what appears to be anger when if fact they experience fear at the sight of they child being in danger. Hence the importance of naming the emotion and its context, to oneself or to others: I was really scared when I saw my little girl run out into the street. My need is to protect her. What can I do to make sure of this?

The next time you have a strong emotion, experience it, identify the emotions that are going through you, then identify the unmet needs that are behind them, and then ask yourself, "Knowing that, what do I want, need? ". You will quickly realize that you have a myriad of informants at your disposal, like a little inside "FBI" just for you, always ready to inform you!

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