Emotions are part of our everyday life. They connect our mind and thoughts to our bodies and actions. When we experience something, our brain interprets it, formulates a thought which then triggers the appropriate emotional response. In turn, our emotions act as guides in our decision making and for our actions.
Our emotions act as guides in our decision making and for our actions.
Let’s say you meet someone for the first time. The emotional reaction that person will trigger in you will help you determine whether you want to see that person again or not. Similarly, a situation that triggers fear will encourage you to leave (our natural flight reaction), and a situation that triggers anger will encourage you to defend yourself (our natural fight reaction).
In other words, we rely (consciously or not) on our emotions to help us navigate life and other people, to figure out what we like and don’t like and to keep us safe.
We are able to regulate most of our emotions as well as decide whether we want to act on them. Often, we might feel fear and an urge to leave but we decide not to, sometimes we will not defend ourselves when we are angry and sometimes we will decide to not see someone that we like for X number of reasons. Our emotions are guides, not dictators.
Our emotions are guides, not dictators.
But sometimes, there are some emotions to which we may not have such a simple, straightforward and healthy relationship.
Here are 3 signs that you may have a problematic relationship with one or more emotions:
1. You can’t control it, it controls you
When an emotion stops acting as a guide and feels more like a dictator, or a wave of overwhelming stimuli that stops you from thinking clearly, this emotion becomes problematic. If you are not able to act as you would like to act, when you can’t consciously make choices and act upon them, your relationship has evolved from a guide to a dictator. Similarly, if some situations trigger a whole range of conflicting emotions that confuse you, your guide evolved into an anarchic group of emotions fighting each other for attention. And finally, if you’re unable to access an emotion, if a situation “shuts you down” then it means your guide has deserted you.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, it’s an indication that the emotion, or your relationship to that emotion, has become dysfunctional.
2. You feel stuck in a pattern and you can’t help but react to the trigger
You have identified one, or more, emotions that tend to take over in specific situations (the trigger) and even though you are aware of this, that emotion manages to take over every time it is triggered. You can’t help but have that overwhelming emotional reaction (or lack of). It has created a pattern that you are unable to break out of.
3. Whatever you’ve tried so far hasn’t worked
You are aware of this problem but nothing that you have tried so far really helped you solve the issue.
When an emotion stops being helpful, it can start causing a lot of harm, which goes against what emotions are designed to do in the first place. Some emotions can feel quite complex to deal with because they usually have a long history that dates back years, and sometimes go back all the way to our childhood.
The only really effective way to reset that emotion, and our relationship to it, is to be able to go to its root cause. This might sound like you’ll need to spend 10 years lying down on a sofa talking to a psychologist. This is not the case. Today, there are straightforward, fast and very efficient ways to get to the root cause of our emotions without having to go through that lengthy process (but if you want to do that too, by all means, do it!).
This might sound like you’ll need to spend 10 years lying down on a sofa talking to a psychologist. This is not the case.
Getting to the root cause of your emotion will help you figure out the triggers as well as what is powering that emotion. And once you know, it becomes much easier to take over the controls again.
If you’d like to learn how to get to the root cause of your emotions so that you can learn to control them better, I have put together a free 5-day course.
During the course, you will receive an email every day with some explanatory content as well as practical tools and exercises that will get you to the root causes of your emotions.