So in my last post I waded into uncharted waters and going by the general silence, I take it my brutal honesty hit a sweet painful spot. Now that I have opened up that can of worms, I might as well bite the bullet and keep going.
One of my recent experimental A-ha’s is my new way of dealing with emotions by separating situations from the feelings they create. The basic premise is to deal with the situation or event or whatever has happened in a clinical manner – all feelings aside. Once the situation is dealt with, I then revisit the feelings and deal with those separately.
For me this was necessary based on my history of feelings messing up with my head; so this process has worked remarkably well especially over the last one year when I was literally drowning in emotions. I actually stumbled on it by accident during my grief period last year. If you have lost a loved one then you know how the feelings that accompany loss can completely cripple you till you cannot function at all.
In my case the loss was accompanied by some horror sideshows (which I cannot talk about here) that evoked a plethora of varied emotions which threatened to sideline even the basic grief. So I made a decision to put aside these emotions and deal with the main ones of loss which allowed me to focus on my husband and kids who really needed me at that time.
Only when things settled down did I allow myself access to every other feeling that was throwing my heart and head into turmoil.
The process was so effective that I have been using it ever since to make big decisions with clarity and as little emotion as possible. I just have to remember to deal with the feelings as soon as I’ve dealt with the situation.
You might be thinking, so what is wrong with dealing with both at the same time? Haven’t we always brought our feelings into situations? After all aren’t our feelings regarding life’s problems valid?
The simple answer is that, yes they are.
However, you cannot argue with feelings because they are neither right nor wrong. What a person feels is what they feel. You cannot argue with it, nor change it. Meaning that in an argument, feelings are a complete waste of time and ought to be left out as they only serve to distract from the actual issue.
Allow me to illustrate.
You are upset because your spouse has done something hurtful. Let’s say he has lied to you and you have found out. Let’s begin by separating the issue/fact from the feeling.
Issue– he lied. Feeling – you feel betrayed, hurt, angry etc.
The inevitable confrontation occurs. What you really want is a logical explanation for why he lied so being the considerate person that you are, you are careful not to sound too accusatory since you don’t want the situation to deteriorate further. You will probably say something like –
“….when you lied to me, it made me feel hurt and I feel like you don’t really care about me and that makes me feel………” (Sounds familiar?)
Now your lying spouse is faced with not one but two issues– explaining the lie and making you feel terrible in the process. Truth is, even if he has a very good explanation for the lie, there isn’t much he can do about how you feel which is where the situation gets murky.
In truth, the choice to lie in the first place is simply that – his choice. It only makes logical sense to address it from that point rather than making it about you and how you feel.
Feelings are fine if we all fight fair, but we all know that once emotions are involved all bets are out the window. They compound whatever situation we are in and make it difficult to see reason let alone make clear judgments. In the end, you find that the confrontation becomes more about trying to fix the feelings evoked as opposed to the original situation.
It has often been quoted that you have no control over what someone says or does, but you control how it makes you feel and react.
What you may have never realized till now is that you also control when you feel it.
Typically at the height of a confrontation like the one illustrated above, any emotions that you have tend to feel a lot worse in the heat of the moment. In hindsight, some of our worst emotions feel almost fickle once you cool off. Hence the reason it’s advisable to deal with them when you are thinking more clearly.
The other huge A-ha I stumbled onto with this method is even more thought provoking.
The basic premise that makes feelings irrelevant is that they are highly subjective and cannot be invalidated by anyone other than the person experiencing them. Simply put, you have a right to feel whatever you feel and no one can change that expect you.
Contrary to popular belief, no one can make you feel better or worse without your permission. No one can fix a negative feeling that you have except yourself.
When you consider all this, then you start to realize that in any situation with differing opinions, feelings only serve to further compound an already complicated situation. It interferes with our ability to think clearly, make decisions or consider others’ opinions.
Bottom line, feelings serve a very important purpose in your life. So long as they don’t control you.
Also, your feelings are your responsibility. So deal with them yourself, preferably without involving another person who has no idea what to do with them.
Or you can always go dump them on a professional.