As promised in the last post, this week we will discuss how to befriend our emotions. To get started we will first need to define a few more terms in order to lay the groundwork.
Last week we made the important distinction between feelings and actions. In addition to this, it is important for us to identify the difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction is what falls on either side of our “fight or flight” continuum as displayed below:
A response however, is something that implies both thought and choice are present. As a result we are able to weigh our options and make our preferred decision. Remember to slow down as you learned to do during the “check-in” exercise shared in a previous post. Our continuum now looks like this:
Let us now take a moment to define the word ally. This will enable us to further understand the new relationship we are attempting to build with our emotions.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word ally as, “to unite or form a connection or relation between.” The Free Dictionary defines ally as, “one in helpful association with another.” The key words in these two definitions are “connection” and “helpful.” In other words, when we ally with our emotions we develop a connection that will help us. Does this make sense?
Developing An Alliance
Now that the groundwork has been set, we can begin to develop this new alliance and connection with our emotions. You may not realize it yet but you probably already know how to do this.
A new relationship typically begins with each person sharing basic information with the other. We generally start by asking demographic questions such as name, employment, & location. As the relationship develops, we may go deeper and learn about the other person’s family history, values, goals, & dreams.
Think about the types of questions you would ask to help you learn these things about someone else. It is these same questions that you will ask of your emotions, as you are getting to know them better too.
Your relationship with another person and your emotions grow in the same way. Both relationships develop based on the time and effort committed to them. Spending time getting to know our emotions by asking them questions as we would a friend, is how we develop a relationship with them.
How does this sound to you? Does this make sense? Do you feel ready to start the process of befriending your “enemy?” If you do, please feel free to share your experience with me in the comments section below.