Understanding your emotions, to ensure they’re not misfired.Jun 21, 2021
Nice cup of tea and a sit down
Every weekday, I have what’s called my golden hour, when I have a cup of tea and a biscuit with my girls just after they get home from school. I step away from my desk and make the time to sit with them and listen to their chatter about their day at school. Fresh home, they’re still processing the day, so I don’t ask too many questions, the conversation flows, and we see where it goes. It could be about the teachers, lessons, their peers, laughs, frustrations, whatever the order of the day is. We all then go our separate ways whilst I do a couple more hours of work before getting the dinner ready. I value that precious time.
The other day, my eldest came home from school full of emotion. When asked how her day had been, she replied with a somewhat curt ‘It was fine.’ Walking on eggshells is common with teenagers until you can work out what is at the bottom of the bad mood. Sometimes, you never do find out and you wait for it to pass.
Everyone sat down with a cup of tea and the biscuit tin was passed around. It got to my eldest and she then had a big hissy fit because one of her sisters had taken and eaten the last of her favourite biscuits. She had a full-on rant about unfairness and was almost in tears. It seemed quite a dramatic reaction to missing out on a biscuit.
Once I’d listened to her and let her express all her exasperation, I again asked what kind of day she’d had at school. Then we got to the real crux of the issue…
Her mock GCSEs were fast approaching and that day at school they’d been issued with the exam timetable and there’d been a guided lesson in Form time about revision timetables. THIS was the reason for the ranting. OK, so having a nice bickie with your cup of tea is comforting after a crappy day but these emotions weren’t really about that. This was her fear and worry of exams manifesting itself in a different guise.
Aim don’t tame
Feelings such as anger, frustration, anxiety and disappointment are often labelled as ‘negative’ emotions and often we’re told these aren’t healthy. However, all emotions are valid. They need to be acknowledged and processed.
As adults, we feel those frustrations, that disappointment, irritation and anger, whether it’s about missed deliveries, clients not paying on time, technical issues which mean online meetings can’t go ahead, friends who we feel have let us down, strained family relationships etc. The resulting thoughts and emotions are real, they mean something to us. Sometimes, however, we forget what the thought was behind those emotions and the feelings remain and sometimes, those emotions can be misplaced – we can misdirect them, and our ire is aimed at the wrong person or situation.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle is often quoted on the Winning Edge programme because he once wisely said: “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.”
When we’re feeling angry, disappointed, anxious or frustrated, it’s about stopping and assessing what the real underlying issue is. Maybe they are genuine emotions about a situation but there are times when externally, we might be feeling one thing but internally, the emotion could be entirely different, and the problem is not the one we are vocalising.
Often, this happens with children and unfortunately, it’s more of a challenge for them to unpick what it is they are feeling and why. It’s a challenge for us as parents and carers to not react to their external emotions, especially when they are in full-on strop mode; it’s crucial we understand that there is many a time they’re not just having a huge tantrum about the wrong colour shoes they’re being asked to wear – there’s a frustration they’re unable to vocalise. Same with teenagers. They have a maelstrom of hormones they’re dealing with and so very often, what they’re saying, isn’t anything to do with what the actual issue is. Easy for us to understand intellectually but in the eye of the storm, it can test our mettle when we’re attempting to remain calm, centred and resourceful.
Adults are just as good at throwing full-on tantrums. We’ve all done it and we’ve all witnessed it - storming around the place banging doors very loudly, just to let the inhabitants of the house know we’re really not happy about something. Maybe it’s been a bad day at work. Maybe we’re at work and everyone is ducking for cover because we’re behaving like some kind of centrifugal force, and no one wants to get caught up in the line of fire of our prevailing negative energy.
In these circumstances, what message are we ultimately communicating? That we are the most important person in the room, and everyone will just have to adapt to our omnipotent mood.
Of course, we’re all perfectly entitled to be in a bad mood but it’s knowing the consequences for that bad mood. If I sat here in a huff all day and my children came home and I spoke curtly to them, banged some doors, slammed some plates down, the likelihood is that it won’t be a particularly joyous evening for all. If, however I acknowledge my thoughts and emotions, process them and make a conscious effort that my family will not bear the brunt of how I’m feeling, the evening is more likely to be a calm and pleasant one and this of course in turn, will help to feed my psyche and move me forward to a better place.
Choices and outcomes
No one is saying you should slap a smile on when things are tough, that just isn’t real life and when people say ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘think positive thoughts’ – that’s just like trying to fix a leaky pen by wearing rubber gloves because you’re not getting to the root of the problem. If you’re feeling hacked off – you’re feeling hacked off, if you’re feeling deeply disappointed – that’s how you feel but how they manifest by way of your behaviour, well, that’s your choice and if you choose to take your thoughts and feelings out on others, there are going to be consequences because those people might not take too kindly to said behaviour. Certainly, if your reaction to disappointment, anger and frustration is habitually unpleasant for everyone else, those habits will not help you long term, you are writing a script for yourself that you might not want to become your story long term. Yet that will be the case unless you change the nature of your thinking.
Taking personal responsibility for your thoughts, emotions and resulting behaviour is the peak of adult maturity. The moods you exhibit are your choice, no one else’s.
Stuff happens in life. Some great and fabulous stuff. And then there’s the not-so-great stuff - when all kinds of thoughts, emotions and behaviours come bubbling to the surface. The tantrum route might be your default setting. Settings can be changed though. Set yours to find a way to work it out through acknowledgement, processing and finding a new normal and thus a way forward.
Taking personal responsibility and holding yourself accountable for the way you feel and act moves you away from feeling a victim of what goes on around you. It puts you in a powerful position – one of control. It’s empowering and liberating.
. . . . . . .
Does it feel challenging to keep your emotions in check - to understand the root of them?
If you feel it all needs some work, the Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.
Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on LinkedIn
Follow us on Instagram
Supercharge your mindset with our weekly Mindset Blog...
We do not SPAM and we will never sell your information, for any reason.