YOUR EMOTIONS DON'T OWN YOU
Human beings are beautiful. The world is cruel and I wish the sky was pink.
That means, in our lifetime, we will experience the extremes of our existence. From achieving our desires to losing what we care about most to waking up every morning not knowing what the day holds. We can’t entirely insulate ourselves from the extremes, it’s not possible.
When we talk about struggle, the conversation tends to be one sided where we only focus on suffering and success, to us, doesn’t apply in this context. Hardships shape our careers but success truly measures growth.
I can’t begin to imagine what each of us goes through everyday just to make it home in the evening. The kind of pressure we are under, from personal stress to economic, spiritual, social and political pressures, still we manage to gather strength to hope again.
We have to prove our worth in every aspect of our lives- school, church, relationships, social gatherings- often making us feel like we are not enough. We are given the A-Z of what we need to do to fit in. We do these things but the tag of war between our reality and the expectations we have for ourselves is fierce. We live with this, day in, day out.
This cycle determines how we carry ourselves, how we see the world and the decisions we make consciously and subconsciously. Look closely at the world around you and then remember what Paul said in the bible, "The things I want to do, I don't do and the things I don't want to do I do..."
My observation is that drug addiction, toxicity on social media, reckless sex, war, murder... are just symptoms of a bigger problem. I think it starts with our mental health and our emotional intelligence. Trying to only cure the symptom is like taking a painkiller for a headache without finding out the real source of the problem.
I suggest putting into practice the theory on Circular Emotions. This is where we stop dismissing emotions and instead acknowledge and harness them to get the best out of each experience. When faced with an emotion that is difficult to deal with:
1. Acknowledge it
2. Feel it
3. Understand it
4. Put it to good use.
We are living in a world where recycling and green movements are the rave, we need to do the same with our emotions. We have to do life daily, we dream, we face challenges and we exploit opportunities in order to live a full life. The tools we have at hand to get through this are our minds, our bodies, our spirit and our emotions.
When we tap into all these parts in the right way, we unlock our full potential. It’s like cutting grass in a huge field, you need to continuously sharpen your panga, hydrate, etc to accomplish your goal.
We give too much credit to spirituality to fix our mind, body and emotional problems. E.g. we get sick and pray about it when the solution is to eat better and exercise. Spirituality can’t help with that.
From birth to say, age 13, our reaction to the world is based on the environment we are raised in. Then at age 16, we start to see beyond our immediate surroundings. We get to age 25 and we still haven’t figured out what makes us, us. To be able to listen to ourselves, we have to first unlearn everything we knew, taking it all apart and picking out the pieces that we need to be fully us.
I believe the first step in taking control is allowing ourselves to break. There is nothing new under the sun, creativity is not about inventing but about using what we have to build something different, useful that has a stamp of our personality on it. Just stop and imagine what you would be capable of if you got your mind, body, spirit and emotions to work together!
Today, I want to focus on the mind and our emotions.
The mind for me is like the CPU- that part of the computer that runs the machine. It stores and remembers information but doesn’t act until commanded. Emotions are like the dashboard in a car where you look to to know what condition the car is in and what needs to be fixed.
To find harmony with all the four parts (mind, body, spirit, emotion), we have to know what we want and where we are going. A trip to Maasai Mara requires different preparation than a trip to Europe.
When you feel an unpleasant emotion, don’t try to get rid of it, or ignore it. It has meaning and is supposed to guide you towards something. It is a reaction to something you like, dislike, love, are scared of, don’t want to do.. etc.
First, ACKNOWLEDGE it. Salute it if you must and know it's there and let it know you see it.
Then FEEL it. This is important and uncomfortable. Feel that pain, allow it to take its toll. Many of us get stuck here and react instead of respond. Many of us don’t go beyond this point and whatever the feeling was turns into resentment, hate, obsession or fear and, ignored long enough, this becomes our truth.
Next step is UNDERSTANDING it. This part is liberating. It is where your emotions don’t have a hold on you anymore and you can identify the source and deal with repercussions the right way. The process goes as deep as you want it to, it can take a few minutes, a few days or even a few years.
The last step is tied into who you are and is about PUTTING IT INTO USE. Redirecting the emotion and giving it new purpose. Most of the time, this part happens anyway and when we’re not in control the result may not be to our benefit. That’s why we fight and why we can kill. Repurposing our emotions so we can use them to our advantage creates the fuel we need to achieve freedom.
All of that has kind of worked for me, although I am yet to realise it fully. My prayers are better now, hopefully my relationships will continuously improve and I will live a quality life.
Applying this in your daily life is possible, whether you’re at home, or at work, or commuting. Be aware and intentional at every part of the process. Use your 5 senses to identify correctly what’s going through your mind. Take stock of how you feel, keep a journal if you can.
Another useful exercise is putting yourself in situations that will stretch you and activate your curiosity. Make this part of your normal routine and be attentive to your immediate responses to the situations. Stay keen.
Finally, struggles and successes are part of the human existence. Finding order in the chaos, for ourselves, is our daily responsibility. Respond rather than react. Always keep in mind cause and effect. Anything that happens to you is either of the two.
The goal is to live our best lives and have every experience make us stronger.