the art of managing emotions

Emotional Intelligence Series #9

The Art Of Managing Your Emotions -I

When it comes to managing emotions, Aristotle said it best when he wrote:

“Anybody can become angry-that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way-that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

We can take the idea expressed here by Aristotle and apply it to every emotion- to feel it and to experience the emotion is easy in comparison to being able to manage it. The wisdom here is that there’s nothing wrong with the emotion itself, it is just an emotion. The challenge is feeling it in relation to the right person, at the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way. Ah yes, that’s what we all find tough. Yet, it can be done.

Have emotions

You can effectively manage your emotions so that you have your emotions, rather than they having you, by getting back to the source of your emotions-your mind and your body. Ultimately, when you learn emotional management, you will have achieved what we call emotional intelligence-an intelligent use and relationship to your emotions. Given that, how does this work? How do you learn to effectively manage your emotions?

1) Start with acceptance.

The beginning place is acceptance of your emotions. Why? Because you cannot control anything that you don’t accept. When you do not accept, and when you reject your emotions-you thereby set up a fight, a fight that can become a war. Now instead of treating your emotions as symptoms of your mind and your body, you treat them as some kind of enemy-and yet because every emotion is your emotion, your rejection is a rejection of yourself.
That’s why rejection (dislike, contempt, hatred, worry, fear, anger, etc.) toward your emotions puts you in an un-win-able conflict.

To reject your emotions, or any one specific emotion such as fear or anger, is to put yourself in self-attack. Then all of the energy that you experience in that rejection (your anger, fear, worry, anxiety, sadness, etc.) becomes aimed at you. And that means that all of that energy is going to go against your mind and your body. Think about that!

When You Are Not Managing Your Emotions

Then in that self-attack, your mind and your body will pay the price. That’s why you’ll get migraines, aches in your back, neck, stomach problems, ulcers, and all sorts of psycho-somatic illnesses. The energy of your emotions that are attacking you has no where else to go. From a meta-state perspective, the problem is the second emotion and response you are making to your first emotion and response. You are rejecting your fear; you are hating your anger; you are depressing with sadness your worry, etc. In the book, Dragon Slaying and Taming (1995) this is the very structure of self-attack as a pathology and why it is so disastrous to your well-being.

MetaStates Training

We use the pattern Meta-Stating Troubling Emotions to counter-act this “dragon” creating process. If you use negative emotions to reject an emotion or experience, then by turning that around and use your positive emotions to accept, welcome, and embrace an emotion or experience-you tame any emotional dragon. Instead of hating, fear, or angering at your emotion, you accept it and you permit it.

When you refuse to accept an emotion, you not only fight it and start a war on your insides, you prevent your own awareness of your emotions. You blind yourself to what you are feeling. As you then expel the emotion from your awareness, you have less and less influence over it. That’s one reason, rejecting the emotion and trying to make it go away, does not work. Conversely, the paradox of acceptance is that by accepting the emotion, giving yourself permission to experience the emotion, you thereby empower yourself to be able to manage the emotion.

The pattern of Meta-Stating Troubling Emotions centers primarily in the permission process. Nor does it matter who took permission away from you- whether it was a parent, a teacher, a theology, a philosophy. What matters is that now, as an adult, you take control and give yourself permission to experience and embrace your emotions. When you do that-you will give a new level of freedom and control.

Emotional Work

With the acceptance of permission then you are able to do your “emotional work.” You are able to let the emotion “move” (e-motion) through your body, giving you the energy to take whatever actions you need to take.
Metaphorically, you let your emotions breathe and when your emotions breathe, they become more healthy, and more responsible to your guidance. Conversely, when you reject and fight an emotion, when you try to make it go away, it gets stuck inside of your and becomes toxic-sick. And then it. makes you sick. Now you know why acceptance is step #1.

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