Your emotions are a part of you. You can’t distance yourself from them; you can’t numb yourself to them. Why? Because your emotions are like a text message: Until you heed the message, it will just keep beeping annoyingly. That’s why the pain from past hurts or the fear associated with phobias only dissipates when you allow yourself to 1) accept what you are feeling, and 2) wade your way slowly but surely through the waves of emotion. Just think back to a childhood fear. When I was a kid, I was afraid of fireworks, the dark, and spiders. Exposure to my fears dissipated their intensity…well, everything except the spiders; I still haven’t been able to come to terms with that phobia yet. In fact, I have a rule that I try to send to spiders telepathically, like Aquaman: “Stay outside. Spin your webs on my balcony all you want. Step foot in my home (or my car), and you’re going head to head with the biggest, heaviest shoe I have.”
People who insist that they rely solely on logic to make decisions – because emotions are irrational – are kidding themselves. Your emotions play a role in your behavior whether you realize it or not. Even if you’re the type of person who spends hours on research, spreadsheets, and a pro-con list before making a decision (like me), you only think you’re going with the most logical solution. What’s actually happening is, based on all the research you’ve done, you’re choosing the solution that feels right; you feel confident that it’s the right choice.
I looked at data from Queendom’s Emotional Intelligence Test and focused on two groups: Those who take the time to reflect on their emotions, and those who don’t. The differences were staggering.
- People who reflect on their emotions are more comfortable expressing their feelings (score of 64 vs. 23 for those who don’t reflect on their emotions – on a scale from 0 to 100). They’re also better at dealing with emotional situations and people (69 vs. 31).
- They find it easier to adapt to different social situations (79 vs. 45). Just like the perfect fashion accessory, they can go from formal to casual with ease.
- They are more assertive (65 vs. 35), confident (70 vs. 45), and have higher self-esteem (79 vs. 49).
- Not surprisingly, because they take the time to reflect on their emotions rather than acting on impulse, they’re better at controlling their feelings (65 vs. 40) and resolving conflict (80 vs. 61).
- They have a more positive mindset (75 vs. 45) and know how to keep themselves motivated (72 vs. 45).
- They’re more resilient (80 vs. 54) and better at managing stress (77 vs. 52).
- They pick their battles wisely (89 vs. 75), let go of the little things, and are happier in general (71 vs. 44).
It’s so important to reflect on your emotions, no matter how unpleasant they may be, because there is always a message behind the emotion. Why do people who cut you off in traffic make you furious? Because deep down, you feel that they are being reckless and disrespectful. Why does your mother’s criticism frustrate you to no end? Because rather than appreciating your strengths, she only seems to focus on your perceived weaknesses (and maybe part of you is angry because deep down, you think her criticism hits the mark). Think about the father who feels overwhelmed at work because his boss is a jerk, but yells at his kids instead. Or the mom who gets upset when her kids throws their dirty socks on the floor or don’t take the garbage out, when what she’s really feeling is frustration because her family doesn’t appreciate her. Their outbursts have nothing to do with the toys or the socks…but the only way to figure that out is to take the time to reflect on what we are feeling, and to understand the value of our emotions.