Contrary to popular belief, you are not your emotions.
It’s not even a conscious popular belief.
Many people just are their emotions.
Emotions are a subtle yet sophisticated internal guidance system for our lives.
But, they’re not our lives.
It’s a massive turn-key moment when you become awake to and aware of managing your emotions as highly trained consultants, rather than being a victim of your emotions.
Honed over millions of years of evolution, emotions protect our survival. They alert us to something that might not feel right, help us set boundaries to protect ourselves and have us seeking out what is good, safe, healthy and pleasurable in our lives.
How our emotions ‘work’ is ingeniously simple.
They let us know when a basic human need isn’t being met. When we’re afraid, our need for safety isn’t being met. When we’re lonely, our need of connection isn’t being met and so on.
When we’re young and vulnerable, our needs are basic and strong. Our emotions are given a fair bit of leeway (tantrums, sulking, anger, destructiveness and dismissive behaviour) as we sort out our world, what we need from it and how we get that need filled as efficiently and effectively as possible.
But we grow out of this phase, well mostly….
As we grow, our childhood needs that aren’t fundamentally met are often more overwhelming in adulthood.
Based on history, we unconsciously perceive these needs as ‘most unlikely to be met’ so we chase the ‘impossible’ looking to fill the insatiable need. What is most interesting about being driven by a need you perceive as never being met, are the constant and exhausting emotions that ‘warn’ you, almost non-stop, that your huge need is still hungry.
If you’re need for a safe, stable and secure environment wasn’t met, your need to control your adult environment and have everything planned, progressing along a certain path and in a routine will be overpowering, and exhausting.
If your need for love and acceptance was not met as a kid, your world will revolve around avoiding rejection at all costs. You’ll master creating all kinds of acceptable, pleasing and lovable other personas to morph into in a blink of an eye to consume the energy of the next unassuming victim of your ravenous needs.
Emotions are therefore best ‘observed’ and should constantly be questioned for validity. They’re not always gospel, by any means.
Much like when a fearful child tells you a tall story, you know better than to assume, believe, react and respond to the fact there IS a monster under the bed. You simply know better and can comfort the child assuring him there’s nothing to be scared of.
We need to be exactly the same with our emotions so we’re not unconsciously overrun by them and fatigued in the relentless process.
- Take notice when an emotion arises.
- Stop and ask yourself, “What need is not being met for me to feel this way?”
- When you uncover your unmet need, ask yourself is this a real unmet need or a greedy need that’s seemingly never satisfied.
- If it’s the former, listen to where your emotions want to lead you and make sound decisions to feel as protected and comfortable as possible in your own skin.
- If it’s the latter, take notice of what your overwhelming needs are and focus your efforts on consciously evolving your childhood perception of the world into your new adulthood one as bringing your needs back into check.
As don Miguel Ruiz so beautifully offers us:
The emotions that drain you are the emotions that come from fear;
The emotions that give you more energy are those that come from love.