Deal with emotions.

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How to deal with emotions

(Estimated reading time: 3 min, 44 sec)

Q: How do I deal with emotions so that they don’t take over? If I can’t stop or even ignore disturbing emotions, how can I get rid of the discomfort they cause?

First of all, I cannot deal with them by ignoring them. It’s also difficult to stop them. It’s like blocking a river with a dam. We can divert the flow of water, but we can’t stop it. The water that comes has to go somewhere; otherwise, it piles up until it overflows; besides, the dams we build against emotions are dams of energy; if we lose that energy, we cannot use it for other purposes.

It’s not worth stopping or ignoring disturbing emotions, but what other options do we have?

We should get to know and understand them (1). It’s like dealing with a horse; would you get in touch with a horse by blocking or ignoring it? Remember the movie “The Horse Whisperer,” where Robert Redford, before approaching the horse, tried to establish telepathic contact with the animal to understand its needs?

"Curiosity"; acrylic on canvas by Aurora Mazzoldi. Page: "How to deal with emotions"
“Curiosity”; acrylic on canvas by Aurora Mazzoldi

In order to do this, however, we must look at the situation and be careful. When we finally get on the horse, we should be the ones who manage; we should ride the horse without starting a useless fight; we should be alert and predict its behavior.

Can you manage emotions?

Have you ever read or heard that most people live as if they were “asleep”? It took me years to understand what that meant. I thought it referred to those moments in the day, perhaps after a hearty meal or a great effort, when the body dozes off and attention falls… but it’s not this. The answer is different: it happens when you let your emotions take over and organize your life.

It’s as if, once I’m on a horse, I’m affected by its desire to gallop freely; I take my hands off the reins and I indulge in its crazy and exciting race. Its eagerness to run with the wind, without wondering where, has influenced me, and I feel at one with the horse. This is identification.

How can we realize it in our daily life? I should look at my habits, both of behavior and of thought. Do you ever think about the same things in the same way? It’s important to notice it because thoughts activate emotions and emotions dictate your behavior; even if here it’s like the story of the chicken and the egg… Let’s say that thoughts and emotions are connected: one pulls and determines the other.

Everyone sometimes thinks: “It’s stronger than me!” and what’s going on? They are struggling with an emotion, which could be anger or sadness or fear or even joy. This emotion makes them scream or become aggressive or laugh without restraint or fall into depression or, again, remain trembling with fear, unable to do anything else. The horse gallops and drags them along.

Has this ever happened to you? When I say or think, “It’s stronger than me!” an emotion takes over! Managing your emotions — which does not mean denying or suppressing them — is difficult. Suppose there is something you don’t want, don’t like, and can’t accept because it hinders you; something you can’t get over and control. How would you behave?

To deal with emotions is difficult- "The Consolation" by Aurora Mazzoldi - acrylic painting on canvas.
“The Consolation” by Aurora Mazzoldi – acrylic painting on canvas

Emotional reactions

So many people, so many reactions:

1. the first keeps a distance and feels superior attitude.

2. Another, to avoid the situation, may deny it:

  • “I don’t care: this leaves me indifferent!”
  • Seek refuge in fantasy: “Tomorrow I will have more power and take revenge…”
  • Be a do-gooder: “I must accept everything that comes to me; heaven sends it!”

3. A third feels unhappy, complains and cries, and feels a victim of circumstances.

4. A fourth may fall into depression.

These are all reactions, and reacting is the behavior of people who are “asleep”. Why?

Because they are not facing the situation. They don’t think about whether it is appropriate to act in a certain way, whether it is the best workable strategy and what the consequences might be. They react mechanically to the stimulus that comes.

For example, imagine yourself in one of these situations:

  1. Every time we sit at the table, my son spills water on himself when he drinks… how do I react?
  2. Whenever the boss calls me to his office, the bell rings many times, as I were deaf, I…
  3. Every time I do not get what I deserve, how do I feel?

In each of these cases, I can react by yelling, cursing, gesticulating, or other ways, but if I inhibit the emotion, have I solved the problem? No, even when I don’t express it, my emotion can still strike. For example, you make a caustic remark to your partner; he does not respond, but he gets upset and shuts you down. Doesn’t his silence hurtyou? Don’t you feel bad?

This reminds me of the argument between my father and mother. My father fell into muteness, and it lasted for days. I didn’t know what had happened between them, but Dad’s harsh attitude made me feel alone, and the environment became cold and hostile. He was full of anger and dissatisfaction, and I, as a child, felt panic.

Aurora Mazzoldi 

(1) Understanding the inner mechanisms helps to prevent them from choosing how we should live..