We are constantly propelled along by our emotions, with our mental and physical state becoming a product of the way we feel. We have varying ways of dealing with emotions, both holistic and medicinal: When over-excited we might take a few deep breaths and divert our attention elsewhere for a while, and when feeling down we might have a glass of wine as a release, or phone a friend for some empathy and encouragement.
At times, however, emotions uncontrollably drive the way we feel and how we act, so much so that we get caught in a cyclone of emotion that consumes us and begins to affect everything and everyone around us – the mind is easily lost to itself as it leads us a merry dance through the streets of non-reality. We imagine, we conceptualise, we worry, we stress, we contemplate, we stress, argue (with ourselves and others) and generally lose our point on the compass, so to speak.
These periods of delusion can last minutes or days, and at times lead to loss of sleep, poor work performance, lack of productivity and a negative impact on personal relationships. This “mind takeover” is capable of producing s stream of uncontrollable emotions, often referred to as “being over emotional”. This happens because we begin to believe rather than know. We invest in runaway emotions that make us feel a particular way, and lose proper judgment as we feed the jester in temporary control of the courtyard.
Of course, spiralling emotions aren’t always comprised of negative emotions. Often times we are super excited, way up high as a kite in anticipation of an event, or super happy, riding the fluffy clouds as everything seems to be going our way, for once . But good trips often have bad come downs, and when the excitement passes, we may feel empty, down or as though something is profoundly missing from our lives.
The fact is, living life on an emotional roller coaster makes you prone to extreme highs and extreme lows. Being emotional every day is stressful, and exposes you to greater risk of depression, and brings consistent periods of down time, so to speak. The middle-road is undoubtedly the road of inner peace, the pathway to harmony of mind, body and soul. Sustainable happiness is, without doubt, found in emotional balance.
Some people are well know for “having a mad moment”, others for a couple of days “off the rails”. But the reality is that consistent ups and downs aren’t healthy, are disruptive to our lives and wholly unnecessary. What we neglect to realise is that we can control how we feel; the only person that can make you feel a certain way is you. This might sound a little too black and white on the face of things, but it’s a truth. For example, when you say, “That’s made me feel bad”, or, “He/she has made me feel like s***”, the truth is that you have allowed your emotions to make you feel that way. The moment you say, “I’m not going to allow him/her to make me feel like that”, is the moment you take ownership of those emotions and are able to remap your feelings.
This approach can be applied to any situation. Of course, it isn’t always possible, and it’s good to let our emotions take their own course at times, particularly when they help us grieve and get through tough challenges. Emotions can make us feel stronger. But when emotions are making us feel weak, low, insecure, unconfident and unworthy, and making us act irrationally and out of character, affecting our work, friends and family in ways we come to regret once the event has passed, it’s not a positive place to be.
A simple way to stop being emotional, and to stop yourself being consumed and directed by your feelings, is to simply let go by prompting yourself with a few questions. When you feel overwhelmed with a particular emotion, when you very down, annoyed, frustrated or uncomfortable, or like you are losing control of your ability to think clearly about your present situation or environment, run through this simple list of questions, answering each with “yes” or “no”:
- Do I want to feel this emotion?
- Is this emotion going to help me solve this situation?
- Would I better to hold onto this emotion or let it go and move on?
- Am I capable of letting this emotion go?
- Would I allow myself to let this emotion go right now?
- Could I get up and walk away from how I feel and allow myself space to re-center?
- Can I take ownership of my feelings and decide where my life goes from this point onwards?
Try it next time you find yourself caught in a wave of emotion. And let me know how you get on.