That being said, I also want to point out that your emotions are the temperature gauge of what’s happening inside of you, not the engine. You need to pay attention to your emotions, and figure out why you feel the way you do, at a deeper level than the obvious circumstances. But you should never be driven by your emotions. Keep them measuring, and don’t let them take the wheel. That’s getting things out of proper order.
We often focus more on bad emotions because, well, they make us feel bad. Who wants to analyze why they feel good? And yet, I think a proper balance of evaluating your emotions is critical to keeping them in check and yourself balanced and on a right track. Good emotions should be explored to offer gratitude for what you like, and want more of in life. They should inspire you to continue doing what works, to take advantage of opportunities, and to appreciate the blessings you have and the progress of sowing the fruit of good seeds in your life. Anything that builds you up is a good thing and needs to be encouraged. So if you’re happy and you know it, then really KNOW it! Mine it for all it’s worth and keep the flow going!
This is easy. It’s the bad emotions that are a problem. What do you do about the anxiety? The frustration? The fear? The depression? The worry? The anger? The grief? You do the same thing you do with good emotions. It just takes you to different places that should give you insight to swing that balance back to the better stuff.
What you really need to do is take a time out to dig deeper. Meditate on it. I know that the power of positive thinking says not to dwell on the bad stuff, but this is an area where I disagree. You need to understand the bad stuff so you can put it in a proper context to take you back to the good stuff. So don’t be afraid. Sit down, and dismantle your bad emotions and what triggered them piece by piece.
Here’s an example that I experienced recently: you’re angry because somebody said something insulting.
Ok, that’s a trigger. Why did you perceive their comment as insulting?
This is where you get to the root of the emotion. When this happened to me, I realized that the person was a gossip, and cared more about “getting the dirt” than about me. She didn’t care about how I felt, because she wanted juicy tidbits to tell others.
But I discovered something else wrapped up in it: the comment triggered the trauma of my grandparents death over 30 years ago because it was the same thing a lot of the adults kept saying to me back then to minimize my reaction to their death. People didn’t understand how close I was to my grandparents, and they thought my grief was an over-reaction. Of course, as an adult I see this was wrong two ways: they had no right to judge my grief, or to judge who had more of a right to be upset over the loss. But that was back in the days when you didn’t correct adults, and parents weren’t so quick to defend you because grown ups are usually right, and kids are usually wrong.
Now, I’m a 44 year old adult who can say “that’s minimizing my emotions and rude. You aren’t really my friend,” and block them. Was I overreacting? My anger at that comment was probably out of proportion to the thoughtless comment, but that big reaction to a small thing not only alerted me to a misconception about the relationship, but a chip I’ve had on my shoulder for far too long. It’s time to let it go. I’m not a helpless child now. I’m an adult who can enforce boundaries.
There’s one more thing: this person just made another inconsiderate snark to somebody else a few days ago. So while my anger might have been bigger than the situation, it turns out that brought me to a correct conclusion about the person and her intentions toward everybody. It wasn't personal at all, and my anger didn't deter her from treating somebody else the same way. In fact, if people don't care about you, then they certainly don't care if you get angry o upset with them. So why consider their feelings when they don't consider yours? Go on with your life, focus on people who uplift and support you, and ignore the rest. Energy goes where attention flows, so send it flowing in better directions.
I know this example might seem complicated, and like you have to overthink things. Maybe, but it’s worth it, and it didn’t take me long to see what triggered my emotions once I took some time out to explore it. Things just flowed from one thing (the woman’s comment was rude), to the next (it reminded me of things people said to me when my grandparents died), to the next (that trauma has been affecting me for over three decades and it’s time to let it go), to the conclusion that I need to be mindful about enforcing my boundaries. You can do that respectfully. But this person wasn’t hearing it because she was so convinced she was right, so – block that crap. Problem solved. Until I got a call from somebody else two days ago saying “I can’t believe she did that!” and I replied “I can.”
That brings up two more things: First, we need to learn not to take things personally. Notice that when I evaluated my response to the offensive comment, I focused on my reaction, not the other person. I took them completely out of the equation because I know that if a person will snark at me, they’ll snark at everybody. The things people say and do are 100% about them, and 0% about other people, no matter how they try to turn things around and reframe it to blame others. Sure, a circumstance can suck. Another person can be a jerk. It happens all the time. But you must remove that from consideration of your own emotions if you really want to make a breakthough that leads to better things. You are responsible for you, so focus on that. That’s all you can control. Once you better understand yourself, you’ll be better equipped to handle situations and other people in a better, more balanced way.
The second thing you need to remember in dealing with emotions is that none of us see ourselves as we truly are. We either overvalue or undervalue ourselves. I’ve seen this before: people tell me I take things too hard because they think it couldn’t happen to them, or people wouldn’t dare treat them badly. Don’t be presumptuous. You can’t control what happens, and you can’t assume that you know what others think or will do when, in fact, you have no idea what’s going on in their head. I’ve seen too many social media posts of people shocked over something they thought they could avoid, or broken hearted because they found out that they thought more of a friend or family member than the other person thought of them. Reality is a beast, and it hits hard. Anything can happen to anyone at any time. It’s n ot personal, it’s life in an imperfect world. We all have hard times, bad seasons, challenges, pain, and jerks in our lives. Again, this is why you need to be responsible for yourself. Explore how you can do your best, gain all the wisdom you can from every experience, and let go of the rest.
That’s what it all comes down to: a willingness to learn and grow, and doing the best you can every day. Some days that will be better than others, but the important thing is to show up, do all you can to the best of your ability, learn all you can, and accept it for what it is each day. If you’re having a good day, great! If you’re not, that’s ok too. Just take time out to figure out why you’re at where you’re at, and prayerfully consider how you can turn yourself to good and make some positive progress this day. Any progress is good. As I said, just show up, and get moving.
I hope this entry helps you in evaluating your own emotions to figure out how to find a better balance. I know I’ve learned a lot about myself during this crazy quarantine riot season of life. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes, in fact, it hurts like hell, and I’m afraid of what the day will bring. But what motivates me out of bed every morning is to remember one thing: nothing last forever, and this too shall pass. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning, to grab ahold of them and use them to the best of your ability. If times are good, enjoy them, be thankful, and multiply all you can. If they aren’t, then remember that your duty is to do your best and walk in faith until this journey leads to better days ahead.
And yes, better days will come. Of that you can be assured.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.