Emotions are such interesting factors that can highly influence the way that we behave. When you take the time to become mindful of your emotions as they arise, it is actually a really insightful experience in that you are more aware of when your emotions are clouding your ability to make decisions. Strong emotions can easily take control of your entire body in ways that can either be a help or a hindrance. Regardless of the positive or negative outcome, it is still important that you are aware of your emotions.
Strong emotions on either end of the spectrum can prohibit you from thinking to the best of your ability. Can you recall a moment when you were so overcome with ecstatic joy or pure anger that when you tried to focus on something else, your thoughts were filtered by the way that you were feeling? This is completely normal and happens to everyone frequently, so that is nothing to worry about. However, an issue arises when you lack the ability to break away from those feelings.
You are not your emotions. The acknowledgment of how you are feeling is a necessary step in learning how to deal with whatever emotion is plaguing you at the moment; however, completely embodying the way you are feeling can be restricting as it closes your mind from remaining open to any outside perspective.
Once, I had a friend who was very upset and relaying those inner thoughts and feelings to me in a manner which was not considerate of how I would be receiving their current state. (That is not the point, however, it did put me in a difficult position as I let them continue to erratically expel their negativity.) Regardless, it was quite apparent how their emotions were inhibiting the effectiveness of their communication choices. This puts the person on the receiving end in a challenging position when attempting to figure out what to do. How long do you allow somebody to be a victim of their unmanaged emotions when you can clearly see that they are not only negatively impacting themselves but also sending that energy into the lives of others?
In my situation, I quickly and calmly said, "You need to calm down; just take a deep breath." Eyes flashing with hardly enough time to think about what I had said, they screamed, "No! Don't tell me what to do!"
Obviously, they heard that there were words coming out of my mouth, but did they truly hear what I was saying?
It was at this moment that I truly realized how important social-emotional learning skills are. We all get upset sometimes; the negative feelings of anger, frustration, and despair are inevitable and normal to endure. What is most important is how we learn to handle these negative feelings when they enter our minds. This scenario I experienced demonstrated an eye-opening experience for me; even in my calm manner, the suggestion of something as simple as taking a deep breath infuriated this upset person even more.
I was puzzled at the moment of their reaction and I must admit that I am still puzzled even to this day as I reflect on their response to me. Perhaps I would understand the attitude-filled retaliation if I had suggested something outrageous in a tone that was also filled with anger; however, that was not the case.
Consequently, I did not have a reply to their response. I understood that the negative emotions had completely taken over this person's body and mind and that they were merely trying to alleviate their own suffering by expelling this negativity into the universe; this is not an excuse, rather it is an interpretation in an attempt for me to explain this irrational behavior. I tried my best to not absorb that energy; although, it is super challenging and most certainly changed my perspective not only about that specific individual but also about the importance of emotional regulation and human beings in general.
I realized that there was nothing I could do or say to help them; it is an intimidating notion that we are responsible for our own emotions, yet while we are experiencing strong thoughts and feelings, it is sometimes not easy to combat them. This is where social-emotional learning skills coupled with mindfulness prove to be crucial skills to have. Merely knowing about these skills is ineffective unless they are implemented in your daily life; this is when they prove to be the most impactful.
Ironically, this experience occurred the night before I was already enrolled to complete a yoga teacher training program. I must say, spending 20 hours practicing yoga, learning how to build a sequence of flowing poses, and meeting other interested yogis was definitely invigorating especially after the last evening I just had. Throughout this training, it was brought to my attention how grounding the breath can be; we are always breathing regardless of our awareness of doing so. When moments of hysteria bubble up, turning your awareness inward to the ebb and flow of your breath is helpful in reminding you that you are alive and present.
Sometimes, it is useful to have this reminder as we experience moments of discomfort. Sometimes, it is useful to have this reminder as we experience moments of excitement. And sometimes it is useful to have this reminder as we experience moments of just ordinary day-to-day life.
Thus, cultivating a mindset that allows you to feel any type of emotion as it commences, but then having the ability to remain aware of what you are enduring is important for your personal wellbeing and also how others will perceive you. Please allow yourself to feel your emotions mindfully at the moment, reflect thoughtfully once the moment has passed, and then pursue any step that you believe is necessary in order to forgive the negative actions you may have taken during that emotional moment.
And, please, always return to following your breath. It truly is helpful in bringing your awareness back to the moment instead of allowing your mind to fall victim to other factors, whether those are external or internal.