If I had been asked about the phrase “navigating emotions” years ago, I would have probably stared blankly at that person. Not only are we socialized to judge and avoid unpleasant emotions at all costs, but we are also consciously trained from childhood to “control “ them, in spite of neuroscience evidence that suppressing emotions comes at a high cost… Fortunately, EQ can help you become more aware of personal patterns and hopefully help you “see” what your unique response is to certain challenging emotions.
This incredible “a-ha” moment is perhaps what I most intensely experienced using the Six Seconds EQ model. I realized how disappointment and sorrow have been silent drainers of my energy and motivation for years because I had been battling and fighting them back with the wrong “tools.” In fact, without knowing how to transition through emotional states in a healthier way, I would often apply the “silent treatment,” which would be directed not only toward the alleged “offender” but also inwards, to myself. Then, I tended to withdraw emotionally while burying all signs of physical evidence behind a smile. One can only imagine what kind of heartache results from this maladaptive way to cope. Bruised, misaligned and overreactive, it’s somehow easy to fall back on a pattern where one avoids steering the ship into deeper waters to avoid future disappointments, but ends up missing the opportunity to experience the immense joy of exploring and connecting with others.
My first years practicing how to flow with emotions led me to learn about resilience and optimism, which endowed me with a sense of empowerment over my own physiological and mental reactions, and that alone diminished a lot of emotional stress. But resilience can be tricky, too, if you can’t practice navigating emotions. People often become so reassured about overcoming any obstacles in their path that they seem to forget that bouncing up and down is not a sport! Instead, it is important to realize that we need to stop feeding disconnection. Why? Simply because resilience also implies that you’re learning from your mistakes in the first place, or at least you’re making an active effort to find out what was wrong, misunderstood or overlooked in that setback that left you feeling miserable. So, even though resilience techniques (breathing, emotional shift, mindset exercises) are a fantastic way to bounce back from an intense emotion; they don’t work alone. We must be courageous and engage in a search of meaningful connection and purpose. I witnessed this courage from the EQ Practitioner Certification participants that I met along my journey with Six Seconds – and for that I am immensely grateful. Few things are as powerful for expanding self-awareness like seeing a concept or idea come to life through the actions of others who are willing to let you peek into their hearts.
But, if you have endured reading this article up to here, I’m happy to tell you that this story has a happy ending and I am happy to offer a couple of suggestions for readers who may have difficult dealing with their emotions or making effective use of them to connect with others. Internalizing that “navigating emotions” was not about being in total control but rather was the WALL between me and the world out there was a big realization. Below are some of activities/ideas that anyone can incorporate into their daily practices to become better at navigating your emotions — Be patient, it’s not magic but it feels like magic when you get it…
Self-validation: Validate your emotions fearlessly. Accept what IS. What you feel in a determined moment doesn’t define your full identity.
Look at the source: Your emotions come to you as a source of information. Is it anguish, lack of something, or fear? Tune in to what they are telling you without judgment or beating yourself up.
Set a realistic time to process: Everybody has different reaction times, meaning that we are most likely inclined to a certain type of reaction-style. Are you naturally impulsive or prefer to sit on things and think them over? If you are someone who thinks things over for a while, set a time with a beginning and an end – so you don’t dwell unnecessarily. On the contrary, if you tend to regret about how you react, use a strategy (like counting to 10or pausing for 6 seconds) to delay your reaction and be able to respond instead.
Drama watch-alert: Do you easily escalate in difficult situations? From 1-5 where do you normally set your drama-baseline at? If you can recognize that your drama-meter is set on a 5 most of the times, learn some techniques, such as breathing, mindfulness or moving meditation, that will help you reduce the intensity of your feelings and de-escalate.
Set an intention: What do you want to achieve? How do you want to transform/ alleviate/ eradicate this feeling? Words have power; wrong words may allow you to “win” a confrontation, but they will increase disconnection. Is this the outcome you’re after?
Honor yourself and exercise courage: Make no mistake about it, there is nobody who can feel/know better than yourself what you’re feeling. You may not be able to express it clearly at times, but that doesn’t make it less real. If you practiced lowering the intensity of your emotional outburst, you would be able to state your truth in your best words.
Walk away with clarity: Once you decide to give time and energy to navigate your emotions, set your intention and speak up with courage if there is someone you need to communicate with. Don’t settle for less than your precious inner peace. Go back to, what is my desired outcome?
Fiorella Velarde MS, M.Ed – Senior Consultant, LAC, and Editor of esp.6seconds.org – Fiorella is a counselor, trainer an advocate for implementing EQ in Hispanomerica.
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