Dealing With Your Emotions

Dealigh With Emotions

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by Jayaram V

There can be a thousand reasons why emotions arise in our minds and why from time to time we are overwhelmed with them. Feelings or emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, resentment, happiness, joy, and anxiety are common to all of us. We experience them constantly, in response to the events and problems we face. In fact, emotions make us human. They define our lives, character and personalities. They shape our relationships. They make or mar our lives. It is a matter of choice whether you let your emotions rule you or you make use of them intelligently to enrich your life and live it fully.

We are so frequently assailed by emotions, that we do not remember most of our emotional experiences at all, unless they impact us intensely and leave an emotional scar. Since emotions are so common and frequent, we experience them rather habitually and do not pay them adequate attention. We remember some emotional experiences, such as falling in love, getting the first job, witnessing a tragedy, or being laughed at by friends or colleagues in a party, but eventually we forget most of them. Generally speaking, positive emotions are rarely remembered for long compared to the negative ones we experience under duress.

Emotions impact us both physically and mentally. They have a physical and mental component in the sense that we experience them both physically and mentaly. We experience them physically as sensations in the body, and mentally as feelings and states. The physical component of emotions, make it harder for us to hide them in social situations, unless we train well to hold ourselves well in difficult situations.

It is rightly said that emotions are meant to protect us from ourselves and the world in which we live. They are part of our survival mechanism. Through them we come to know about ourselves, our environment, our relationships and what is going on with our lives and choices. If you are sensitive and intelligent, you learn from your emotions and make progress in your life or profession with the knowledge you gain.

It is necessary to pay attention to your emotions and become familiar with them and the message they want to convey to you. You have to train yourself well to deal with them effectively, so that you can minimize the damage they do and maximize the benefits of experiencing poistive and healthy emotions.

You can begin this effort with the realization that emotions are healthy, necessary, unavoidable and largely responsible for yoour thoughts, actions, relationships, attitudes, peace, success and happiness. If you do not pay them enough attention, most likely the problems associated with your negative emotions remain unanswered and may harm you in the long run. Besides, if neglected, emotions may persist in the form of memories even after the events that triggered them were forgotten. Negative emotions trigger the release of harmful chemicals in your body, which may lead to many other complications.

It is like what happens if you ignore the warning signs coming from any system or machine. Eventually it will fail, causing your grief. So does your body. If you ignore your emotions or suppress them habitually, most certainly they will lead to physical and mental illnesses.

Dealing with emotions

How would you deal with your emotions, especially the negative ones?

This is an important question that you have to keep asking yourself until you find an answer. You cannot escape from your emotions, that is for sure. Even if you escape into a remote cave, your emotions will stay with you. Life teaches us many lessons.

In the course of our lives, as we grow and mature, as we gather experience, knowledge and wisdom we learn many skills, some good and some not so good, to deal with our emotions in our own unique ways.

We also gain insight into how they work and what leads to them. The following are few such insights associated with emotions, which I thought I must share with you.

1. Beliefs and emotions. Your beliefs play an important role in creating your emotions. These beliefs may be either rational or irrational. The irrational beliefs are more troublesome than the rational ones. They are also difficult to identify since your beliefs also influence the way you look at things and make sense of them. One way to deal with your emotions is to understand the underlying beliefs and assumptions associated with them. You can do this by repeatedly looking for these each time you experience them, especially those that overwhelm you negatively and refuse to subside. Irrational beliefs are the most difficult to resolve, for which you many need thorough introspection and even the assistance of a professinal.

2. Perceptions and emotions. It is wrong to attribute your emotions to extrinsic factors or blame others for what happens to you emotionally. Sometimes, you may feel cheated, betrayed, hurt or angered by others. In reality, the reaction is yours. It is a choice you have made to feel that way. You could have reacted in other ways too, but you decided to act in particular ways because you felt justified. It is therefore important to remember this distinction. External events are not primarily responsible for your emotions, but your perceptions and interpretations are. In other words, it is the way you look at things and interpret your experiences and interactions, which influence your thinking, perceptions and emotions. Hence, people vary greatly in the manner in which they respond to situations and express their emotions. The same situation may invoke different feelings and reactions in different people from gentle to most aggressive.

3. Emotions and control. I am sure, you must have been repeatedly told that having control over your emotions is crucial to your relationships, success and wellbeing. We always admire cool characters in the movies, especially the cowboy movie type who keeps firing away with guns in both hands from behind a rock, smoking a cigar, even when a hundred enemies have surrounded him from the hill tops and shooting at him constantly. Unfortunately, the truth you will not find such characters in real life. You cannot control your emotions that effectively even with the help of the best shrink in the world. Emotions happen despite your best efforts. No ivy school education will help you to stop them in their tracks. This is because we are primarily emotional beings. We are born with a brain that is part primitive, which is largely ruled by emotions and instincts. Therefore, in any given situation, we begin to reason only after we experience emotions. In other words, your brain filters your emotional responses first before passing them on to the more rational parts of your brain where logical thinking happens. Thus, think before you act may well apply to all situations, but think before you feel is not. You feel and then you think. This is the natural order of things. Therefore, it makes sense to accept and experience your emotions to understand the message they want to convery rather than suppress them or feel guilty or shameful about them.

4. Environment and emotions. Environmental factors, such as our upbringing and family background, play an important role in shaping our emotional behavior. Genetic factors may also play an important role in shaping your emotional personality. However, most emotional responses are learned by us in the course of our lives by observing others, especially our parents and family members. If parents are emotional, most likely their children also turn out to be emotional. The good thing about this is we can use this knowledge to our advantage by learning to control our responses, changing our irrational beliefs and the associated thoughts and assumptions.

5. Expression and suppression. You can deal with your emotions both positively and negatively, by expressing them and by witholding them. Both approaches are useful and practical in their own way. Positively, you can allow your emotions to run their course by experiencing them consciously and trying to understand their underlying causes. You may also even express your emotions before your near and dear, those who understand you, whom you trust and with whom you choose to be transparent and trustworthy. This way, you can gain insight into your emotional behavior and learn to accept and release your emotions in a healthy manner. However, this solution may not be appropriate all the time, especially in social situations, when you have to deal with people who may not appreciate emotional responses or behavior and may interpret your emotions as a sign of weakness, instability and lack of control. In such circumstances you have to learn to control your emotions and keep them to yourself.

6. Emotions and self-awareness. The key to deal with your emotions is to become familiar with them and in the process with yourself. You have to know and understand why you act in certain ways and experience different emotions. The more you gain insight into your own thoughts, beliefs, habitual reactions and actions, the greater will be your ability to cope with your emotions and release them. For this you have to study yourself with keen interest and understand how your emotions are triggered in different situations, what beliefs and thinking patterns sustain them and feed them.

7. Emotions and yoga. The practice of yoga is also a great help in knowing your emotions and dealiing with them. Yoga is primarily meant to curb the mind and its modifications. Its ultimate aim is to stabilize the mind so that with a calm and composed mind one can experience equanimity and sameness and see life as it happens without the usual filters we apply to our perceptions. For this the classical yoga suggests various practices, such as self-control, postures, controlled breathing, concentration, meditation and self-absorption. All these practices are proven to be very effective in controlling one's emotions and establishing peace and tranquility. Yoga is by far the best and the most proven method in the history of the world to establish control over the human mind and body. It is a holistic program, which tries to deal with the instability of the mind from every possible angle, so that in the end, it has nowhere to go but surrender to its master.

There are many other ways in which you can deal with your emotions, such as talking to someone you trust, learning to appreciate yourself unconditionally, helping others, seeking professional help, exercising the mind and body, practising relaxation, going on vacations, labeling your emotions, going to a new place, cultivating a purpose, having healthy and achievable goals, avoiding negative people, making yourself busy and so on. Whatever may be the technique or approach you would prefer to follow, taking responsibility for your life, your thoughts, actions and emotions, and for the choices you make is crucial to deal with your emotions and minimize their negative impact. With all the practice and effort, you may not achieve complete success with your emotions, but you will succeed greatly in enriching your emotional life and bringing vitality and energy into your thoughts and actions.

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