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Monday, April 24, 2017

Having a Handle On Our Emotions For a Proactive Life

As I grow older through the years, I realize more and more that men and women are very alike.  We have different anatomies and hormone balances, of course, and the way others have treated us can often be gender-based, for better or worse, but other than that and the way we present ourselves to the world, we aren't very different.  I've met just as many men who are good listeners as women.  I've met just as many men who are emotionally present, as women, in fact I believe most of the men I have met are slightly more sensitive than women, but some do not address it upfront the way in our culture, women often are more comfortable doing.  That extra sensitivity men experience, could be because there is a lot more pressure, culturally, to be strong, and any sign of weakness feels like a blow emotionally.  Sometimes sensitivity is expressed through anger or silence.  For instance someone could be in a perfectly good mood, and then something is said and suddenly they are sullen or quiet.  That's, through whatever means, sensitivity.  We do not have reactions like that unless something affected us.  It isn't the way we express our reactions to situations, such as through crying, that makes us sensitive.  It is what affects us inside, emotionally, that makes us sensitive.  That said, this is not to be confused with the ticks that people with psychiatric disabilities face.  That's not necessarily sensitivity--and I'm not knowledgeable enough on that subject to even touch it.

When watching others react to certain situations, many of us do not realize that it is that person's emotional response, internally, that makes them sensitive, and not how they communicated a verbal/physical response to a stimulus.  You may have yelled at someone after they called you a name, for example, and regardless of whether or not it was deserved, what you felt inside in that moment is your sensitivity.  You are not less sensitive, simply because you yelled--your sensitivity level is ultimately what you feel at the end of the day.  Yet our communication is very real to other people--that's why children so often bully each other--those who do the bullying are seen as "strong."  And yet, often the bully is the one who is feeling the most sad inside.  They create fear in others to shield themselves from showing their weaknesses.  To a bully, being seen as weak is often the worst thing imaginable.  Why do they care so much about that?  What does it matter how people see them?  And the answer to that is, it's because they are hurting the most.  They have a lot more at stake if they show how they are truly feeling.  And often, they feel they have a lot to hide, even if they don't--and that's because of the inner-turmoil they are experiencing.  Just in the same way we can feel someone is treating us badly, when actually you are just in a bad mood and/or maybe they just are not good at communicating.  Often, I would say at least 50% of the time as healthy adults, it's our very own emotional chemistry that is getting the best of us, and not other people at all.

The way we communicate what bothers us, may be different because that is what has been taught to each gender or individual, or how we have coped in our own lives individually, but we all have things that bother us and affect us (and that is OKAY!).  Humans are sponges to everything that happens to them.  That said, it's good to get a grasp on your emotions, if possible!!  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could act on the situations we disagree with positively and proactively, without having negative emotional reactions to them.  Emotions just seem to get in the way of getting things done sometimes.  Our tears ruin a moment where we could have stood up for ourselves.  Our anger ruins a moment where we could have been a peacemaker.  And yet most of us have strong emotions to certain situations, because we were born with them.  We are affected by our environments, the way we are treated and the people around us.  We are affected by our own thoughts, and the sensitivities we have developed over time, often through our own doing.  And it isn't helpful!  So it's good to find solutions within yourself, to come to peace with your sensitivities, so you can handle situations proactively.  For some, like myself, that's through introspective, writing, for others, it may be more useful to find a therapist.  We don't all think alike and sometimes our strengths do not always lie in recognizing ours and others' emotions.

Since I only know my own internal dialogue, I'll be elaborating on how I alone handle my emotions.  While not perfect, I'm very much able to recognize whether my reactions to things are appropriate or the result of being emotional thanks to my mental chemistry.  Usually, for me, it starts like this--I wake up first thing in the morning and feel like I have a rock in my stomach.  That's usually my cue for, okay, it's going to be what I call a, 'high-chemistry day.'  I start worrying, and then I will realize that these problems are not the real issue, and they are not even real problems.  For instance, I will pay my bills today, so stop worrying about it.  They are there and will continue to be there until I pay them.  That in itself is a solution that can calm me.  And yet sometimes, the feeling of anxiety persists long after I realize that I'm emotional, and the real issue is not the 'things I'm concerned about' but whatever is going on internally in my brain.  The first step is just REALIZING it is even you!!  As a kid, I remember thinking it was the stimulus.  That person was mean because they MADE me feel this way.  When in actuality it was my own emotions making me worry--that was what made me feel that way, and not, for instance, the fact they were really interested in their tv show at the time when I wanted to talk to them.  It's a useful tool to keep in your arsenal--because what could have caused resentment between you and someone else was handled and realized as an individual, internal thing (please don't do this if you actually have a problem with someone though!  That is called conflict-avoidance, and it's the opposite of healthy).

So for you, think about WHY you are sad, worried, upset, angry, stressed out, whatever expression it may be.  Is there a truly good reason for it and is that reason truly valuable to you in the scheme of your life?  Is it something that needs a real solution, or is it your own chemistry that is getting the best of you?  If you can separate those two things, that is key in overcoming everything.

If the problem that is affecting you emotionally does need a solution, come up with one that solves it, in a peaceful, but direct manner.  Be mentally prepared--if you go in a situation with a thorough plan that addresses different potential issues you could encounter, you are FAR less likely to over-react when those issues arise. You will handle them.  And that will be that.  And as you continue to handle things, it will all get easier and easier.

However if you still feel a ton of negative emotions, even after coming up with a solution or after realizing that you are brewing over stuff that does not matter, that's the time to consider other options!  That could be biological--maybe you aren't getting enough sleep--that can cause anxiety in the most healthy of people.  You also need to be eating and drinking regularly throughout the day.  Many people skip meals for hours on end, and find themselves to be quite moody until dinner-time--it was the blood-sugar drop, and all of us experience this, though for whatever reason I've met people who can tolerate it better (you should still eat regularly to prevent this).  A form of physical activity you enjoy is also beneficial for emotional health, because it raises endorphins (makes you happier naturally) and keeps the body functioning normally.  Just some light physical activity that you like can help.  Just pick something!  What doesn't suck??  What sounds fun?  Don't pick something torturous that you're going to hate doing.  Do you like gardening, swimming, or dancing to your favorite music for 15 minutes?  Walking around the city with a friend or two for a half hour?  Walking dogs at an animal shelter?  Something you LIKE is going to help you way more emotionally than forcing yourself to do something you hate, and you can tailor it to your schedule and your own personal needs.  Don't make it torturous.  We tend to think things that help us should be difficult, that's a cultural thing.  There are many instances where a good thing is not a sacrifice.  We can make things that benefit us enjoyable and tailor them to our schedules if we try to.  If you don't try to be accommodating for yourself though and come up with solutions that help you, of course you're going to be miserable.  Apply for another job if you hate the one you are at.  Believe you CAN be treated better by other people, as long as you treat them with respect too.  Believe you can make things better and come up with every opportunity you can to do so.

All else fails and you're still struggling, if your insurance covers it, find a therapist you like (you'll most likely see several you don't like before you succeed in finding a good one, but press on!), if needed, or try to find a free service.  Maybe use meetup.com and find a group you can discuss topics with.  Use what tools you have available to you to create solutions in your life.  Things do not happen for us in life unless we initiate the process and keep pushing to find them.  Most people do not fall asleep and wake up the next morning suddenly stress-free.  Nothing changes for you.  Getting the life you need to have lower-stress levels takes the foresight to address the problems, your own initiative and your own active pursuit.  It's all there waiting for you, but the fruit does not land in your hand.  You have to find it and pick it, sometimes you even have to plant it and raise it.  Nothing is done for you.

Take care! :)

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