What is emotion management?
How do you handle your negative emotions?
Do you switch off, give up or shut down?
I recently went live to discuss healthy and unhealthy ways of managing our emotions.
Emotion management is an essential component in repairing damaged relationships; especially important relationships such as your marriage.
But what exactly is emotion management?
Emotion management means we know what we feel, why we feel it and how to express it in a way that is compassionate but does not compromise our values. It’s releasing judgment about what we should feel and accepting our emotions – good and bad. It’s about balancing emotional clarity in the moment with the vision of our peaceful future.
Let’s start by talking about unhealthy emotion management. Here are some examples of what emotion management is NOT:
1 – Emotion Management is not stonewalling
Stonewalling is when we stop sharing our emotions with others. We lock up our emotions on the inside but shut down on the outside. We disconnect from the source of our emotion. It makes us believe we have control. It’s true that we are influencing the situation but it’s at the sacrifice of our internal peace.
2 – Emotion Management is not passive acceptance
When we allow our emotions to take over and flow through us, we are surrendering to them. We passively accept the emotion and relinquish control over them. As with stonewalling, we disconnect from the source of the emotion. But passive acceptance makes us believe that we cannot control our emotions. We are not capable of influencing the situation. With passive acceptance, we sacrifice our external peace.
3 – Emotion Management is not shutting down our emotions
While stonewalling and passive acceptance allow our emotions to exist, we may be tempted to deny our emotions entirely. Some overwhelming emotions are hard to feel. It’s easier to shut down and avoid the emotions. This also gives us the feeling of control. It also gives the illusion of internal peace. But it is a false sense of peace. The denied emotion will eventually show up in our life.
Here’s a recent example of how I handled my negative emotions in my own life.
We have a rule in our home that no food is allowed upstairs. I recently discovered that my teenage son had been eating snacks in the game room. When I saw the empty bags of goldfish and chips, I was immediately triggered. My instinct was to yell and punish him with consequences. Instead, I stepped away to process my anger.
I know that anger is a mask that hides other emotions. After developing clarity around my anger using the same process that I teach to women, I realized that my anger boiled down to 2 key issues. 1. I felt disrespected 2. I was afraid how his disrespectful attitude would play out in other areas of his life.
Ultimately, my primary emotion was fear. Because I was able to manage my emotions I was able to clearly communicate with my son and prevent an unproductive argument.
In the end he did get a consequence but he knew exactly why and he couldn’t write it off as a character flaw on my part.
But why does this all matter? Why should we even try to manage our emotions?
Managing our emotions is the bridge that can take us from where we are in this moment to the life we so badly desire. That's the topic of next week's post.
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