Our emotions communicate important information to us. We are built to feel a continuum of positive and negative emotions including anger, fear, sadness, excitement, love, and happiness. Our emotions allow us to understand, connect, and communicate with others and ourselves. Emotions let us know when we need to support a friend, fight for ourselves, or leave a situation. Feeling our emotions is part of survival and can lead to living a more fulfilled life. Improving emotional management skills may take time and effort.
Five key emotional management skills:
- Self-awareness: Self-awareness is a skill that allows us to predict how a situation or person might affect us by understanding our own emotional state. It can allow us to observe our emotional reactions to situations and learn how to improve our responses. For example: If we understand that being prepared allows us to feel calmer and more confident at a presentation, then we can take steps to ensure that we’re as prepared as possible for the presentation.
- Reflection: Reflecting allows us to discover why we had a certain emotional reaction to a situation or a person and can help us resolve conflicts by separating the emotion from the situation. For example: if you had a conflict with your mother about buying a bike, it might help to reflect on whether you are sad about the conflict or bike. Knowing the cause of your feelings might help you reach a compromise with your mother.
- Acceptance: A key emotional management skill is the ability to accept our emotions without assigning a value to them, which can help us react rationally to a situation that’s causing us to feel a certain way. By accepting our emotions, we can often recover from an emotional reaction more easily, allowing us to focus on the next task.
- Perspective: Developing a sense of perspective can help us manage our emotions by placing them into context. For example, if we feel nervous before giving a presentation to an audience, we can put that emotion into perspective by recognizing that it’s normal to feel some anxiety about public speaking and that many successful professionals feel this way. Perspective can remind us that emotions are a healthy response to situations and that we can overcome them to accomplish our tasks.
- Empathy: Empathy is the ability to relate to how people feel in a situation using our own experience. It helps us to build relationships with ourselves and others. It also gives comfort to self.
A movie named Inside Out follows an eleven-year-old, Riley, and her emotions – Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear – as her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Previously her inner world has been dominated by Joy. Joy has made it her business to ensure that Riley remains as happy as possible, building up a store of mostly joyful memories which have, in turn, shaped her personality. However, following the house-move, many of these memories become tainted by Sadness – who can’t seem to stop herself from touching them and turning them blue. In her attempts to prevent Sadness from causing any more damage, Joy manages to get both of them ejected from the control room to the outer reaches of Riley’s inner world. This leaves Anger, Fear and Disgust in charge while Joy and Sadness try everything they can to get back before Riley runs away from her new home.
The message of the movie is that we require all of our emotions: not just the so-called positive ones. We soon realize that Joy’s tendency to ignore and suppress Sadness is actually getting in the way of them finding their way home. It seems like things work pretty badly when just one of the emotions takes charge, and much better when they all work together through being equally valued.
One of the most poignant moments in the movie is when Riley’s old imaginary friend is devastated to realize he’s lost his last chance ever to be with Riley. Joy’s attempts to cheer him up or force him to keep going fail. However, when Sadness sits with him and shows that she understands how hard it is for him, he’s able to experience his own sadness, to cry, and eventually he’s ready to move again. Paradoxically, as in Inside Out, if we disallow one emotion – like sadness – we’re likely to become stuck and find that we stop experiencing joy much too. If we lose the capacity to experience some of the emotions entirely – as when Sadness and Joy are lost in the film – we risk falling into depression and all of our emotions becoming shut off. This is rightly depicted as the darkest moment in Inside Out.
It may not be that we always move in the same direction on the compass, or that certain emotions always follow others. Indeed, as Inside Out shows, we can often experience seemingly opposing emotions at the same time (e.g. joy and sadness, anger and hope, fear and determination). Indeed, when the first memory comes in that reflects these kinds of mixed feelings we see that it is perhaps even more beautiful and valuable than some of the ones which reflected only one of the basic emotions on its own.
The problem is that, through our lives, most of us learn that certain emotions are not acceptable: either to express or – often – even to experience.
This is what moved me to tears several times during the film as I remembered moments in my own childhood and adolescence when – like Riley – I learnt that certain feelings were unacceptable. It made it even more powerful that – for me like Riley – a critical time was the sudden experience of starting a new school with strange and different rules. However, of course, these moments are different things for different people, they happen at different points in life, and they can be gradual, or sudden, or both.
The film underlines what a terrible impact such messages can have as elements of Riley’s personality – that we’ve previously enjoyed watching – turn grey and gradually disintegrate entirely when her emotions are lost. Most devastating for me was the moment when Goofball Island disappeared. Now that it wasn’t safe for Riley to experience all of her feelings there was no way that she could goof about in the way she used to as a child.
Fortunately for Riley, Sadness and Joy are able to make it back to the control room – once Joy recognises the value of Sadness. Then Riley is able to take the risk and show her parents how sad and frightened she is. Even more fortunately, perhaps, her parents are able to accept her emotions, to share some of their own, and to let her see that they love her as much when she’s sad as they do when she’s happy. Going back to Inside Out this is a lot like Riley actually giving kind attention to each of the emotions inside her whenever any of them want her attention, instead of putting one of them in charge, or trying to get rid of others. However, when we do this practice what we often find is that the feelings we become aware of are the ones that are preventing us from feeling other feelings (like Joy in the movie). You might start feeling a sensation of fear or sadness, for example, and then a strong feeling of anger or disgust at yourself for having that feeling. When we have these feelings-about-feelings the thing to do is to sit with them just as gently and curiously as with the original feeling. It can help to remind ourselves that – like Joy in Inside Out – these feelings are trying to keep us safe, even if what they are actually doing is the opposite.
This article may help you. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wander-woman/201711/can-bad-emotions-be-good-you)
If you find it difficult to manage your emotions then take professional help from psychologists.
Weitten by: Sanjida Sultana Rupa