How to deal with emotions

This post is also available in: Italiano

How to deal with emotions

Q: How to deal with emotions so they don’t take over? If I can’t stop disturbing emotions and not

"Curiosity"; acrylic on canvas by Aurora Mazzoldi. Page: "How to deal with emotions"
“Curiosity”; acrylic on canvas by Aurora Mazzoldi

even ignore them, how can I get rid of the malaise they cause?

First, I cannot deal with them by ignoring them. It’s also hard to stop them. It’s like blocking a river with a dam. We can divert the water flow, but we can’t stop it. The water that comes must go somewhere; otherwise it accumulates until it flows over; in addition, the dams we build against emotions are energy dams; if we lose this energy, we can no longer use it for other purposes. It’s not worth stopping or ignoring disturbing emotions, but what other possibilities do we have?

We should learn to know and understand them (1). It’s like dealing with a horse; would you get a contact with a horse by blocking or ignoring it? Do you remember the movie “The Horse Whisperer,” in which Robert Redford, before approaching the horse, attempted to establish telepathic contact with the animal to understand its needs? To do this, however, we must look at the situation and be careful. When we finally get on horseback, we should be the ones who manage; we should ride the horse without starting a useless fight; we should be awake and predict its behavior.

Can you manage emotions?

Have you ever read or heard that most human beings live as if they were “asleep”? It took me years to figure out what it means. I thought it is about those moments, in the day, maybe after a hearty meal or a great effort, in which the body dozes and attention falls… but it’s not this. The answer is another: it happens when you let your emotions take control of you and organize your life.

It’s as if, once I am on a horse, I get affected by its desire to gallop free; I take hands off the reins and I indulge in its crazy and exciting racing. Its eagerness to run in the wind, without wondering where, has affected me and I feel at one with the horse. This is identification.

How to realize it in our daily life? I should watch my habits, both of behavior and thought. Do you ever think of the same things in the same way? It’s important to notice it because thoughts activate emotions and emotions dictate your behavior; even if here it’s like the story of the chicken and the egg… Let’s say that thoughts and emotions connect each other: the one pulls and determines the other.

Everyone thinks sometimes: “It’s stronger than me!” and what’s going on? They are grappling with an emotion, which can be anger or sadness or fear or even joy. This emotion lets them scream or become aggressive or laugh without restraint or fall into depression or again, remain trembling with fear, unable to do anything else. The horse gallops and drags them.

Has this ever happened to you? When I say or think, “It’s stronger than me!” an emotion took over me! Managing your emotions – which does not mean denying or suppressing them – is difficult. Suppose there is something you don’t want, don’t like, and cannot accept because it impedes you; something you cannot get over and control. How would you then behave?

Emotional reactions

So many people, so many reactions:

1. the one keeps a distance and assumes an attitude of superiority

2. Another one, to avoid the situation may:

  • Deny it; “I don’t care: this leaves me indifferent!”
  • Seek refuge in fantasy: “Tomorrow I will have more power and get revenge…”
  • Practice do-goodism: “I have to accept everything that comes to me; heaven sends it!”

3. A third one feels unlucky, complains and cries, and feels a victim of circumstances.

4. A fourth may fall into depression.

These are all reactions and reacting is the behavior of persons who are “asleep”. Why?

Because they do not face the situation, they don’t think if to act in a way is convenient, if it is the best workable strategy and what consequences it may have, but they respond mechanically to the stimulus that comes.

For example, imagine yourself in one of these situations:

1 – Every time we are at the table, my son pours water on himself when he drinks… how do I react?

2 – Whenever the boss, to call me in his office, rings many times the bell, like I was deaf, I…

3 – Every time I do not receive what I deserve… how do I feel?

In each of these cases, I can react by shouting, swearing, gesticulating, or other ways, but if I inhibit the emotion have I solved the problem? No, even when I don’t express it, my emotion can hit. For example, you make a caustic remark to your partner; he does not respond, but he gets upset and shuts you down. Doesn’t his muteness hit you? Don’t you feel bad?

That reminds me of the disputes between my father and mother. My dad fell into muteness and this lasted days. I didn’t know what had happened between them, but dad’s tough attitude made me feel alone and the environment became cold and hostile. Anger and discontent took over him, and I, as a child, felt panicked.

Aurora Mazzoldi    +    Luis Pisoni

(1) The understanding of the inner mechanisms helps to prevent them from choosing, in our place, how we should live.