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  • Writer's pictureAlix'sBubble

Why You So EMO...? 5 Things You Need to Know About Your Emotions IMHO

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

“Suck it up! Why are you so emotional?” “I can’t talk to you when you’re so emotional” Do this sound familiar? We are often being told to push aside our strong emotions because these emotions are not helpful and there are distractions and destructive to reach our goals.

In my past relationships, whenever my ex-partner and I got into arguments; the very heated ones, I would be the one tearing up and I would always get response like “you’re playing the emotional card to get your way, that’s unfair”. This statement had a very profound impact on me. I felt like an evil villain while at the same time feeling the jab of rejection that I was not allowed to express myself.

When I was working (non-mental health related job), there were many occasions where my colleagues would disapprove of others who were more emotionally expressive. There was once when a colleague was stricken by depression, he was absent from work and tended to take long breaks from work. His struggles were invalidated and minimized by others. Comments like “I had it worse than him, what has he got to be depressed about?”

At times when I was worried, I get the usual “don’t think about it, it won’t help you” advice from others. All these were not helpful at all to calm my nerves, so I learnt I am alone with my feelings, and I started to withdraw myself and became a little bit of a recluse. At times beating myself up for being such a nervous wreck.

These reactions from others are so common in our society that any form of strong intense emotional expression is a no-no. Strong emotions are getting a very bad rap, don’t you think?

So, I grew up not liking my own “bad” feelings like anger, fear, and worry. Nobody likes it, no one around me likes it. How can I like it?

Looking back, I can appreciate the process I have been through and the impact on how I do life now. There were no subjects in school to teach emotions nor they were taught or modelled by my parents in a way I can understand the meaning of my emotions in relation to what had happened to me and ways to work with them. How I wish that emotions were taught in schools and that when the children grow up, they will have the knowledge and awareness to nurture themselves and in turn their own children too.

Through fate, I found myself studying psychology and then counselling, and then diving into the world of emotions. From this, I got to know myself and my emotions within the relationships I have, be it with myself, my family members, my partner, my son, my friends, and the community I am in. What a journey for me of getting to know my emotions all over again in my adulthood and to know that I am not a difficult person at times. I am just being human.

I would like to share 5 of my learnings in simple terms hopefully others can also learn about their emotions and have the aha! moment I had. Here goes:

No. 1, there are no good or bad emotions. There are signals to help us deal with difficult situations or relationships

I’m always very angst when I can’t get my message across to others. I learnt that my anger has a charging power for change. E.g. I get angry when I am deprived of quality time with my partner, my anger is telling me I need to fight for comfort and connection (signal).

However, sometimes my craving for connections sounded very critical so, things get heated up and I got the label of being the monster in the relationship. So, I learn to approach similar situations by conveying the unmet needs first. I would tell my partner that I am missing quality time with him and I really do appreciate his company (this will soften the defensive side of anyone who are being charged with strong emotions), and not getting those quality time, I felt I was neglected and anger started to build up.

No. 2, emotion is the starting point of how we understand and make decisions to situations, memories, and people that impacted us. It is a reaction towards things that happened to us.

When people say we overreact, this is the time to be very curious of what is happening to us. Be the investigator. Sometimes, we flared up with the slightest provocation. This can never make us feel good. Just like an ache in the body, we need to find out where that ache came from and find ways to relief it. If we can't do it ourselves, we need to engage a professional to help us.

No. 3, emotions are felt in the body.

Our body takes in the impact from the environment. E.g. When there are threats, like being chased by an angry charging dog, our para sympethtic nervous system kicks in and pushes our body to flee. As with any situations or relationships which put us in a "danger zone", our bodies feel the impact first.

No. 4, we need our thoughts to make meaning from emotions which then decide on our actions next. Our actions have a goal, which is to achieve safety.

Our thoughts and emotions worked hand in hand, they complement each other. Making meaning of how we feel about some situations/relationships urge us to take actions to keep ourselves safe. Sometimes, the action tendencies might not be helpful but they are there for a good reason. E.g. By avoiding any social situations which put me in a place where I felt like I need to perform, I safe myself from the possibilities of making a fool of myself, which will leads to my overthinking self that reruns every conversations I had with others. Is this a good move if I want to connect with others? I don't think so. Is it good for self-preservation? Definitely. (I'll try to make another blog about this tug of war between self-preservation and creating connections. So, I'll just continue my babbles on emotions first)

No. 5, emotions are tide to the quality of our relationship with the environment we are in.

Let's say when we're in a dangerous environment, where we do not have safe relationships to count on, primitively our fear will drive us to move to a safer place. When we're out, the fear cycle ends and we no longer feel the threats (e.g. toxic relationships). Same goes when we're celebrating joyous occassions or with our favourite persons, we do not want that to end. Joy will want to be extended and expanded. It feels safe to hang around more.

Last and not the least, there are times where we are required to put our emotions aside for practical reasons and that is totally OK. Just remember to address them when we're in a safe space. allow ourselves the time for emotions to be felt and processed.

Emotions are not just feelings. They needed to be there to drive our next actions.

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