An indispensable member of any living being’s life is his or her emotions. Though our feelings may have existed when the first man walked the earth, the word emotion was only coined in termed only in the late 1500s. Its etymology is the French word émouvoir which means “to stir up”. But more than just definition, how we feel tends to make us to we are. Our moods sometimes define our character.
Unfortunately, there are times that our emotions take over us–it controls us, When this happens, tragic consequences arise, oftentimes these are bad. Thus, taking charge of how we feel is essential. We must not let uncontrolled emotions define us.
So how then would we know that we have overcome our emotions? These might give some clues.
5 Signs That Our Emotions No Longer Control Us
What follows are five lessons which show that we’ve freed ourselves of being primarily controlled by our emotions. These characteristics are recommended as they can potentially facilitate an ongoing sense of inner peace being experienced in our lives, which of course should be one of the primary priorities of all of us.
- We understand the difference between our emotions and our feelings
Everybody has the same emotions, yet we all have different feelings. These two human states are distinct not only because they are processed in different areas of the brain, but because emotions are primarily physical, whilst feelings are mostly mental constructs.
Our feelings are a mixture of our emotions, beliefs, philosophies, thoughts and memories. All these aspects come together to not just influence the emotions that we have, but also determine how we ‘feel’ about what is going on in our world. Therefore, understanding the difference between our emotions and feelings is critical to contextualising our emotions into the bigger pictures of our lives.
- Instead of holding onto challenging emotions, we let them go
Emotions like fear and anger can be harmful if we carry them around with us. They are certainly helpful in specific situations to ensure our survival, however, those circumstances are few and far between. Why is it then that our normal waking experience is usually one that can be chosen to be enjoyed, but ongoing ‘feelings’ of stress, rage and other suffering continues to plague the daily lives of so many? One reason is that they haven’t learned to let shit go.
We need to manage emotions like fear and anger so they no longer control our feelings and behaviours. It’s a process though. First, we should embrace them as a part of our human experience. Then, we should understand them, as well as contextualise them into our beliefs and philosophies to utilise for our learning and growth. After we have taken the positive out of challenging emotional experiences, that’s when we can let them go, especially so we don’t encourage negative consequences to manifest.
- Instead of reacting to our experience, we respond to it
Giving ourselves that little space to process what we’re going through allows us the time to ‘consciously’ incorporate our emotions into our philosophies on life. We have challenging experiences that bring up potent emotions all the time, yet responding instead of reacting to those experiences is self-empowering because then we’re more likely to treat ourselves with healthy and positive energy instead of getting sucked into unhealthy states of stress and pain.
For example, when somebody does something to us that is rude, do we instantly react with anger or do we allow that emotion to drift into our belief system so that we respond in a compassionate and self-caring way? After all, if they’re behaving rudely, we know they’re already suffering, so do we really want to react in a way that will also cause us to suffer too? Not if we don’t want our emotions to control us, we won’t.
- We are overcoming our depression and anxiety
Professional and self-administered psychotherapy, in conjunction with good health, is what cures depression and anxiety, not pharmaceutical drugs. The success rate of these drugs facilitating a recovery, by providing a more balanced chemical production in the body, is evidently low; however, in some cases it does assist a person to undertake the psychotherapy they need to overcome their mental illness. Nevertheless, it’s rearranging the subconscious and conscious mind over a good commitment of time, though practices such as meditation, which truly deals with these problems effectively.
These two ‘diagnoses’ are not primarily emotional states, they’re ‘feelings’. In general, sadness is the base emotion to depression and fear is the base emotion to anxiety, so it’s these emotions that we need to functionally process so that they no longer drive our primary feelings about life. Our thoughts and beliefs play an integral role in these harmful mental states, so that’s what we need to change to release the grip of those core emotions and permanently overcome depression and anxiety.
Note: This is not intended to replace medical advice, if you have significant mental health challenges please engage with professional and community supports.
- We treat all people with love, respect and compassion
It takes an emotionally empowered person to respond to poorly behaved people with love, respect and compassion. That’s not saying that we should take shit off other people either; we can still be direct and assertive, as well as being kind at the same time. If we don’t let our emotions control us, then a loving, respectful and compassionate state of the mind and heart flows through our engagement and communication with people, no matter how dysfunctional their actions.
That’s because we don’t let emotions like fear and anger control our response, such as reacting to rage with rage, to stress with stress, or to indecency to indecency. As previously stated, our feelings about life, which include our thoughts, beliefs, philosophies and memories, need to be empowered so that we don’t allow our emotions to take full control of us when we’re faced with difficult people or challenging experiences.
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