Guys, today was a super important day in my life. Not only did I just have a HUGE breakthrough, but I also had a really important realization as well.
For many months now, I have been working on the way that I process and manage negative emotions. I have been trying to learn how to do it in a more effective manner. Due to my personality type (
bossy controlling impatient domineering choleric, efficient, and leading), I have always had trouble maintaining mutual respect in disagreements. With my ability to be frank, direct, and to-the-point, I would immediately enter into attack mode in a disagreement and give the other person a piece of my mind whenever I felt hurt, unloved, disrespected, attacked, and/or criticized. Unfortunately, the anger and the emotional haze I felt would frequently result in very harsh feedback that would sound hurtful, unloving, disrespectful, attacking, and criticizing to the recipient. (Interestingly, I subconsciously made the other person feel as terrible as I felt in the conflict).
I always wondered why we were never taught in school how to manage negative emotions correctly. Along with “Money 101: The Skinny on Budgeting and Finances,” “How to Avoid Getting Scammed in Legal Contract Writing,” and “How to Actually Earn Money in this Sh*t Economy,” the courses titled “Loving People Through Conflict” and “Managing Negative Emotions Correctly” were noticeably absent from the curriculum. If these topics were actually taught to people in school, there would be a lot less A) alcoholics, B) drug addicts, C) people who eat their feelings, D) people who don’t eat their feelings, and E) people who don’t f*ck up all their relationships from needing to release their anger. Among other things.
Not only were we not taught how to manage negative emotions correctly in school, but it didn’t seem like anyone else knew how to do it either. Until I met my mentors in my former program, I didn’t know a single person who could actually manage their negative emotions correctly or who could love someone else through a conflict.
In my research on this subject, including some books and online courses, I have already learned some invaluable information about how to overcome these negative emotions.
Step #1: Release the emotion
For me, I have thought of several ways to do this that do not involve lashing out in anger at an actual person:
- The best way is definitely critical thinking, if you have time to do it. This process can take anywhere from 30 minute to 2 hours depending on the complexity of the emotions involved. More often than not, it’s just not feasible to exit a conversation for that long.
- For smaller amounts of time, depending on if you can, you can do some strength training, power walking, yoga, etc. Again, this is not always feasible due to your location and weather, as well as timing.
- Another location-dependent one for me is playing piano. This one really helps me (but, I need a piano handy).
- If you can take a 5-15 minute breather from the conversation, what works best is to b*tch it out by yourself. Either speak into thin air or write it down, but let the person have it (although, they will not be there to receive it).
- For on-the-spot treatment, I’ve found the best way is to carry squishy desk ornaments in my purse. It feels GREAT to dig my nails into them when I’m pissed off. If I’m at home, I then start using my Chinese stress balls to relax. This can be done mid-conversation if necessary. Then I take some deep breaths, work to calm my facial muscles, calm my throat, and try to have empathy.
Step #2: Understand the Emotion
- Again, critical thinking is by far the best. I would marry it if I could.
- Have index cards handy that have your patterns laid out in front of you. Instead of becoming angry, demanding, and controlling next, what do you really want? What need are you trying to have met? How else can you meet it?
For me, when I become angry, demanding, and controlling, usually it’s because I feel unloved and I need emotional attention. I can meet that need myself by 1) talking to God and the Universe, or 2) writing in this blog (which do you think I picked today? lol).
- Just think about it. Why are you so upset right now? What is this triggering? What does this remind you of from your past?
Today, I am very proud of myself for what I accomplished. I was having a conversation over text where I became upset. Because I was at home, I practiced piano and released my anger. As I was practicing, I started thinking my way through the emotion. I started asking myself, “Ok. WHY am I so upset right now? What is this reminding me of?”
And then I had my answer. I responded to the person in a very calm and respectful way. Then I filled my own love tank by writing in this blog 🙂
My whole processing time for the negative emotions and the response was 30 minutes. Progress over perfection! This small victory only added on to my really important realization earlier in the day.
Not only did I not know how to process and manage my negative emotions in the context of conflict situations, but also I would have the same problem when I would deal with very strong emotions by myself in dealing with anxiety and panic.
As mentioned above, my primary need to fill my love tank is emotional attention. What I would do in the past was just dump my emotional load on anybody and everybody who would listen, with no warning or no consideration for what they were doing. All I could think about was that I FELT horrible, and I just needed someone else to listen to me so that I would feel better.
Understandably, most people became so tired of this that they stopped talking to me and stopped offering to give me emotional support. I drew the conclusion that all people sucked, didn’t want to give emotional support, and didn’t value vulnerability and authenticity in relationships.
The issue with this was not that I wanted to share myself with others. It was not that I was being vulnerable and authentic. It was just that I was sharing myself with no consideration for others, therefore making others feel like I was using them for emotional attention.
I have since learned not to use people as an emotional dumping ground. Now, I see emotional sharing as a negative deposit in the relationship, because it is something that I want to gain from the relationship instead of something that I am giving to the relationship. The only way to have a good relationship is to give more than you receive back. I have begun investing more of myself in my relationships in general to really show people that I care about them. The emotional sharing conversation itself has to be built in a mutual manner to the point where the timing is right and the other person will be receptive to hearing about the emotional pain. This is the right way to go about emotional sharing and support.
Not only that, but I have realized that most people actually DO value vulnerability and authenticity in a relationship. In fact, most people PREFER their friends and family to be vulnerable and authentic. It’s just, the sharing has to be done in the right way for it to work.
I no longer have to stay silent on issues that bother me or hurt me so as not to offend or disrespect anybody. I no longer have to feel isolated and alone. I no longer have to pretend that I’m ok when I’m totally not. I am SO GLAD that I had this realization.