Terry Jean Taylor
Have you ever had feelings like, “Sometimes I just want to kill that guy!” Or, “These last few days I’ve felt nothing but hatred for that woman!” Or, “I’m so jealous of her it makes me crazy!”
And then do you ever feel guilty for feeling that way?
Talk about a double-whammy! Not only are you hit with the initial emotion but you pile on the additional emotion of guilt. You feel bad about yourself for simply experiencing certain emotions.
Adding Insult To Injury
When you add the additional emotion of guilt to your original emotion, it takes you into a downward spiral of self-destructive emotions. Saying “I shouldn’t feel that way,” is saying that “I’m a bad person for feeling this way.” Then you start attacking yourself for being a bad person instead of exploring, managing and resolving your original emotion.
Here’s what makes the news good:
- EMOTIONS as such cannot harm anyone. In themselves, they are neither “good” nor “bad.” They are simply the automatic result of how you’ve assessed something in the world – a person, a situation, a place or a thing. You have no direct control over what you feel, and the only way you can change an emotion is by changing your original assessment (of that person, situation, place or thing).
- EMOTIONS don’t “make” you do anything! Emotions are how we experience being alive, but they are not by themselves a reliable guide to action. We human beings survive by means of our ability to reason, and we are able to decide what our best course of action is – regardless of what we happen to be feeling at the time. That’s why emotions can live in your head for as long as you live without any impact on anyone (yourself included). It’s what you do about your emotions that can have impact. Only ACTIONS can be healthy (good) or harmful (bad).
So the good news is that you need never feel guilty or ashamed for experiencing an emotion – no matter what that emotion is!
The Rest Of The Story
Once you realize that your emotions can’t make you act to harm anyone – and that you can choose to overrideyour emotions by using your ability to reason and act sensibly – you will no longer feel guilty over simply experiencing an emotion. However, you still have the original emotion to deal with. How can you do that?
HERE’S HOW TO GET STARTED
When your emotions reflect your best reasoning you feel at peace with yourself. But when your emotions are at odds with your reasoning you feel conflict, anxiety and guilt. The next time you experience an emotion that troubles you, here’s what you can do:
1. Acknowledge the fact that your survival requires you to size up everything in your life according to what is beneficial for your life and what is harmful for your life. You will automatically feel attracted to the things you regard as beneficial and repulsed by the things you regard as harmful. Some things may be neutral, neither beneficial nor harmful, for which you will feel neither attraction nor repulsion. If you size up things correctly, your emotions will be in sync with your reason and the facts of reality.
2. Ask yourself if you sized up that person (situation, place, or thing) sensibly. Did you base your assessment on someone else’s say-so? Did you base it on your insecurities or fears? Or did you base your assessment on your own careful observation and thought?
3. Realize that your emotions may (or may not) reflect the facts. If a man comes at you with a gun threatening to kill you, and you can find no other way to stop him, your emotional reaction of fear for your life and “wanting to kill that guy” would be in sync with what is actually happening – and in sync with what your best reasoned judgment would tell you to do. But if someone at work is prettier than you, your emotion of “going crazy with jealousy” will not be in sync with either reality or your reason. Our observation and reasoning reveal that we can each develop our own beauty – and that beauty is a wonderful thing no matter where you find it. We have also discovered that seemingly “physical” beauty is more than just inheriting good genes: great looks come from one’s bearing, animation, attitude and grooming, as well as one’s character and personality. Some of the “prettiest” people I know work hard to keep themselves attractive. Seeing traits you admire in others helps you see what is possible for yourself, and helps you form your idea of what kind of person you want to be. Instead of feeling threatened by good qualities in others, you can use those good qualities to serve as an inspiration for achieving the qualities you want in yourself.
4. Strive to see things clearly so that your emotions and your reason are both based on the actual facts of reality. This will put your emotions and your best judgment in sync with each other. For example: most folks want to eat, which matches their reasoned decision to strive for food, which matches the fact that human beings require food for their survival.
5. Recognize that emotions and reason each have their place. People know that they cannot rely on their emotions to obtain food: they must rely on their mental reasoning efforts to guide their physical efforts to obtain food. When it comes to surviving and thriving, your reason – not your emotions – must be in the driver’s seat. This will make all the difference in the quality of your emotional life.
You will discover that you can increase your ability to manage your emotions when you stop wallowing in feeling guilty about them and start using your thinking cap to understand them and determine a healthy course of action to resolve them.
Treating both your emotions and your reason with respect is part of treating yourself with respect. It puts your reason and your emotions “in sync” with each other and removes the guilt – so you can go about living – and loving – your life!
I’d love to hear how these steps work for you — feel free to email me at Terry@YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com, or post a comment on my Break Free Blog at www.YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com. Please know that you are welcome to share this BREAK FREE TIP by forwarding this message to a friend or colleague.