Before we start getting into the sage-advice of Emotional Intelligence and leaning in, let’s get back to basics.
Life is hard, messy and complicated. We don’t get to choose when it is hard, but rest assured its coming. The truth is, unless you are a cyborg, you are going to have lots of emotions triggered throughout your life that can be difficult to process. Having emotions comes with a subscription to life. From my experience, whether we have too much of them is not where the focus should be, when looking to effectively regain balance.
I used to think that to have or show emotion was a problem that needed to go away as soon as possible, or worse; it shouldn’t exist. I never wanted to be labeled as being “emotional.” Then I learned that all emotions, including the negative, are entirely normal and can be our body’s way of signaling that there is an unmet need that deserves some attention. This experience is no different than a gas-light coming on in a car when it is running out of fuel.
As humans, we have this beautiful brain that generates thoughts to serve to navigate us through life. Unfortunately, our thoughts do not always help when experiencing emotions.
I consistently find myself off-balance when there is an attachment to thoughts and stories about an emotionally-triggering event. As highlighted by the famous researcher and author, Brené Brown, “In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. In fact, the need to make up a story, especially when we are hurt, is a part of our most primitive survival wiring.”
So, what can we do about it?
Shared below are some tips for embracing our humanness, unhooking from the story and regaining the balance that work for me. I call it the ACE method.
Here Are 3 Tips for Balance:
Acknowledge what is going on inside of you
This tip intends to get you to slow down and be present before the, “magic story fairies” take over. The process of acknowledgment involves pausing, recognizing any physiological responses in the body and naming the feeling behind the emotion. Focusing on your breath during this process always helps.
Ask: Where and what do I feel at this moment? What am I needing? Maybe your heart is racing, you are feeling fear and need reassurance that you are going to be OK.
Challenge what is true with compassion
Focusing on the facts helps keep your vivid imagination from filling in the rest of the story and jumping to conclusions. Facts are things that we observe with our senses, (i.e., seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting), that can be proven.
Ask: What am I believing, and is it true? Here is an example, you call someone who loves you, and they don’t call you back. The fact is that they didn’t call you back. The story is that they didn’t call you back because they no longer love you.
Maybe you get hooked on this story and it snowballs from there. The challenge comes back to; do you have any evidence that the person no longer loves you, (i.e., was there a fight, did they say they no longer love you, etc.)?
Taking every thought as truth is where I find the story gets off-balance. Remembering you are human is an excellent way to be compassionate during this stage.
Execute a solution from a place of love according to what serves you
I find it helpful to think of what you would say to a friend in your situation and how you would help them resolve it to bring more ease. Then you can offer that same comfort to yourself.
Removing yourself from the story and focusing on the unmet need and the facts, gives you more freedom to do what you need to get back into balance.
It is important to note that we aren’t meant to do this life “thing,” alone. I have found I have needed others to help me through these tips from time to time; especially for particularly challenging situations. If you have had a trauma or cannot seem to regain balance, please consider speaking to a professional to help you through it.
Life can be overwhelming and can get the best of our emotions. The only thing we are guilty of is being “so” human.