Can you crack the secret code in difficult emotions?

Can you crack the secret code in difficult emotions?

Successfully managing difficult emotions is one of the most challenging skills we can learn.  Have you ever logically known that you shouldn’t say what you’re about to say but you just can’t stop yourself?  You may know that you are making things worse but you feel justified because you are propelled by strong emotion.


Difficult emotions often feels like they are “triggered” by others

Often this happens with family members or colleagues that regularly trigger a strong emotional response in us.  In these cases familiar emotional patterns are driving the bus but it seems reasonable that we act those emotions out because that person “made” us feel that way.  We can often feel stuck in those interactions – like we are having the same conflict over and over without resolution.  The repetitive nature of these conflicts may indicate that an unresolved childhood emotional pattern has been “triggered” and we are no longer acting from our adult self.  These are some of the most difficult emotions to manage.


Sometimes emotions and their triggers are less obvious

Nevertheless, they cause us to behave in ways that ultimately work against us and we don’t necessarily like.  Consider if you’ve ever taken up a gym membership that you hardly ever use.  Perhaps you can’t stop yourself shopping for things you don’t need.  Maybe you come home after a tough day and eat half a packet of biscuits or drink a bottle of wine.  Like it or not emotion will often trump logic.  We need to learn the secret code in our difficult emotions so we can navigate them more effectively.


Often, we push away difficult emotions because we don’t want them

But in pushing away emotions we can miss vital information that the emotion is trying to convey.  Not only do we miss the code, but we also send the emotion under the surface.  Emotions don’t go anywhere if they are not acknowledged.  They just build and build until there is an outlet, or we go completely numb.  Neither is a great option for a happy and healthy life.  What if we come to understand that all emotions have a purpose and need to be acknowledged and heard?


Consider emotions to be like messengers trying to tell us something

For example, resentment can be a signpost our needs are not being met.  Anger arises when our boundaries have been crossed.  Sadness indicates that something has been lost.  There can be great value in recognizing and listening to our emotions.  They help us to make changes that address the actual problem rather than creating another problem through acting out or avoidance.


Try treating emotions as small children who are trying to tell you something

Slow down, delay acting and be kind and patient with what you need to feel.  Your difficult emotions will have a secret code for you if you give them space to be heard.  Once the emotion is heard and resolved the emotion can stop trying to get your attention.  You then create space for more pleasant emotions to drive the bus.  Be patient as this technique takes practice for it to become a useful habit.  If you have trouble and need assistance cracking the code, remember we’re here to help and are excellent code crackers!


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