April 20, 2022

The next time something triggers you emotionally, do this…

I love it when you can dip back to the ancient Greeks and pull out a bit of wisdom. Speaking on emotional intelligence (of course they didn’t call that back then) Aristotle had this to say about anger: 

“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not easy.”

The thing about emotions is that as kids we were never really taught how to handle the beasts. Instead of learning how to deal with our emotions, we were taught to suppress them. If we got angry, our parents or teachers told us to calm down. As a male in my household, I wasn’t allowed to cry…the whole men don’t cry was a real thing in my household. Crying just brought more punishment. 

We weren’t taught that emotions are useful and beneficial to us and by expressing them we can learn more about our authentic selves. 

emotional intelligence teaches us how to recognise and respond to our emotions both toward ourselves and others. 

Take anger for instance. If you’re seeing the red mist of anger and you’re about to explode someone telling you to calm down isn’t much use. 

A better way to go about it is to ask yourself is there another way to interpret the situation that’s triggering you? This can also buy you some distance from the situation and make it less personal. 

To give yourself some more options you can ask yourself what would (think of someone you respect) do in this situation? How would they respond?

Doing those two things alone will naturally disperse some of the anger giving you time to decide if anger is the most useful response given the situation. 

Anger often gets a bad rap, but don’t forget anger does have its benefits. Anger:

Energises us
Motivated us to solve problems
Drives us toward our goals
Protects our values and beliefs
Pushes us to reach deeper into ourselves 

To name a few of the benefits. 

You can use the above framework on any emotion. My go-to response to an emotionally charged situation is to ask myself: 

Given the situation, what is the most useful emotion to help me achieve the outcome I want?

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