Navigating Your Emotions

Navigating Your Emotions

Surf“You Deserve To Live An Extraordinary Life!”

In the last post, I shared a link to the Native American tale of “The Wolves Within,” about the two wolves that exist within our heart… the one of Love, Good and Harmony, and the other of Hate, Anger and Fear.

What does this story have to do with us? Perhaps, as in the legend, we are frequently in tension. There is an inner battle raging between the aspect of us that seeks to understand what we’re feeling or what another person may be feeling, versus the part that gets defensive and goes on the attack, looking to assign blame when we are hurt or frustrated.

Emotional Control, the second skill of the Emotionally Intelligent person, has to do with our ability to regulate our emotions and calm ourselves when we are upset. Navigators with emotional control seek ways to manage disturbing emotions and impulses, and even to channel them in constructive ways. The Emotional Navigator feels the upset but does not succumb to attacking another person or himself. He works on recognizing his feelings, trying to understand what’s really going on, and to practice calming himself down before he reacts.

Take the case of Karen, the woman who became distressed when her husband did not attend to her emotional needs. What could she have done better to manage her emotional upset? Here are some suggestions you might consider if you find yourself in a situation like Karen’s, other than taking it personally, blaming, and jumping to conclusions.

  1. Pay attention to your level of upset and disappointment. Ask yourself, “How upset am I, on a scale of 1-10?” where 10 is extremely upset.
  1. If you find yourself in the 7-10 range, recognize the likelihood that such strong emotions will impair your perspective and judgment.
  1. Consider taking a “time-out” and begin to calm yourself down with a few minutes of deep breathing. This will elicit a calming response, whereas the shallow breathing that typically accompanies upset will trigger more anxiety and inner tension.
  1. Focus on the physical sensations you are experiencing, rather than thinking about your circumstances. If you engage in thinking while in a state of high emotional upset, it is likely that your thoughts will become negative, distorted and possibly obsessive. By focusing on breathing, areas of muscle tension that could be released, and any other sensations in your body, you will use other parts of your brain to process reality, therefore encouraging clarity.
  1. During your time-out, you could also make an attempt to access positive memories related to the current circumstance. For example, Karen could think of times when her husband acted with care and loving attention, which would counteract the tendency to exaggerate the negativity of the immediate situation.

There are many other practical strategies you can use to manage emotions, but these five suggestions will provide a solid foundation for navigating emotional surges.

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