Understanding your emotions

There is a belief we in western societies hold about ourselves. We believe we are cognitive driven people.

We believe that any emotions we experience are stumbled upon and quickly shut down.

Emotions are things we push down so that we can get back to our thinking selves.

That is what we are taught. It is how we are expected to behave.

But this is incorrect.

THE REALITY OF EMOTIONS

The reality is that we are emotional beings who occasionally think.

Radical.

Maybe even scary.

Our behaviour and decisions are driven by our emotions.

This is not what we are taught as children.

WHAT CHILDREN ARE TAUGHT

Children are taught to listen to adults telling them what the right decision to make is. They are the ones who tell the child that they are being silly when they don’t want to go somewhere because they feel uncomfortable.

The child feels uncomfortable because their brain has observed a lot of non verbal signs and translated those into emotions to inform the child of danger. This is what we call intuition.

Then the adult is telling the child that is silly. They are telling the child to ignore their emotions. To ignore their intuition.

So we grow up believing our emotions are silly things we should run away from.

The truth is, our emotions are the driving force in our lives.

EMOTIONS THE KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR

Emotions are not the baddy we are told to ignore. They are the knight in shining armour come to save us.

I was reminded of this in conversation with someone the other day. I am going to call this person Rose.

Rose was raised by a mother who expected her children to earn love by doing what she told them. A child who is not loved is a child who is in danger of being rejected. In our childhood brains rejection is death, because a child cannot survive without an adult. So to prevent rejection Rose learned to fawn, otherwise known as people pleasing.

FAWNING A CHILDHOOD SURVIVAL BEHAVIOUR BUT IN ADULTHOOD A HINDRANCE

This was a problem in that in adulthood she fawned with everyone and had trouble setting healthy boundaries.

She ignored her emotions and instead listened to her formulaic learning around what she should do. In this case what she should do was allow other people to set the agenda.

PRUNING THE GARDEN PLANT

The situation Rose was in was that someone had asked her if they could prune a bush in her garden. She was so stunned by being asked this that she said yes. But deep inside she had misgivings about it. In the end she went to the other person and said no.

Rose’s behaviour was being driven by the need to earn her mother’s love.

This behaviour then became the automatic way she behaved.

SAY YES AND REGRET IT LATER

Rose kept saying yes to people and then regretting it later. It was hard for her to withdraw her permission. And people treated her as though she was weird. She wanted to stop.

In our discussion we identified that Rose would often be “okay” with something and only later when she had a chance to listen to her emotions she would realise she was not okay.

WHEN SHOULD I MAKE DECISIONS?

The truth is you don’t have to make a decision on the spot.

Quite radical isn’t it? How often are we taught that we must give an instant response?

What most of us need is time to think. And it is absolutely okay to do that.

If you are affected like Rose maybe you would like to try what she is now doing.

THE RIGHT WAY TO MAKE DECISIONS

When someone asks you something, tell them you can’t answer right away. You need time to think. You might want 5 minutes, an hour, a day, a week. If the other person can’t wait then the answer is no. Don’t be pushed into anything.

Take that time out to think.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

The first think you will be aware of is feelings in your body. This is where we experience our emotions. They are felt in our bodies. That is why we call them feelings.

Allow yourself to explore those feelings. If you don’t yet know what they mean, allow yourself time to learn.

Your feelings will give a strong indicator about what you feel about the question.

After you have identified and explored the feelings think about what the other person has asked. What does it involve? What are your feelings telling you about the request? What does your reasoning mind tell you about the request?

Once you have given yourself time to explore your feelings and think you are then in a position to give an answer.

IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO

Remember, it is okay to say NO. If the other person doesn’t like NO don’t give in to them. Be the broken record that keeps saying NO.

Don’t forget, you don’t have to explain yourself. No is no. You do not owe the other person an explanation.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with understanding and responding to your emotions, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

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