The 4 Ways We Deal With Emotions
One of the most profound lessons missing in K-12 education is where our emotions come from and how to experience them in a healthy and empowering way.
Our emotions are vibrations within our body - they're movements of energy within us. Emotions are the dashboard indicators of what’s happening in our minds, and they result from our interpretations of what we perceive with our senses.
All our emotions do is point to our interpretation of our circumstances - our emotions are not pointing to our circumstances.
There are 4 ways we deal with emotions, and only one of them is reliably healthy for us, the people we care about, and the things we're committed to.
Reacting is going from stimulus to response, without choice or self involved. Reacting is, well, reactive. When we react to the emotion of anger, we express the anger and direct it at what we think is causing it. When we react to the emotion of anxiety, we shut down, ruminate, and worry. When we react to the emotion of excitement, we smile, we move more, we might talk a lot.
Resisting is actively forcing an emotion away - like holding an inflatable ball beneath water.* For years, my response to anxiety was to resist it. "Nope nope nope - you’re not allowed here! Don't rain on my parade!" I had the sense of pushing it away and holding it back, trying to prevent it from coming in.
We have moved beyond the information age - we now live in the age of distraction and indulgence. In other words, we live in the age of avoidance. Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Alcohol, sugar, THC, and professional sports. Avoiding our emotions is our favorite pastime. As Blaise Pascal wrote in the 1600s: "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."
By far the healthiest response to our emotions, allowing them means feeling them and letting them move through. It means bringing curiosity to them, feeling them as they are, not judging, reacting, or resisting them. Allowing does not mean indulging in them, like we might indulge in anger or anxiety. Allowing might mean sitting quietly and observing them within. Allowing might also mean using a mantra (like "I'm safe to feel all emotions") to welcome it in so that we can experience it.
Our emotions are simply energy vibrating, moving, and making itself felt in our body. Becoming familiar with our emotions, letting them move through us, and not attaching additional meaning to them is a powerful and freeing experience.
Which of the 4 ways of dealing with emotions do you gravitate towards? How might allowing emotions positively impact your life?
Thank you so much for reading. ❤️
P.S. If you're ready to level-up your capacity to respond to life with ease, enjoyment, creativity, and effectiveness, schedule a call and let's see if working together is a good fit.
* Many thanks to The Life Coach School for the insight on the four ways we deal with emotions and the inflatable ball analogy.