Imagine you’re in a fight with a colleague. You tell your office mate what happened but she only shrugs. She doesn’t understand your point. Perhaps your coworker is furious because he didn't receive more credit for his recent report. In this same situation, you were unaffected. I may seethe when a colleague tells a white lie but this doesn't bother you at all.
We often feel superior to others when we don’t feel angry but anger (like all emotions) is only data. Our anger is telling us something about our inner or outer world.
Accepting all our emotional reactions (not behaviors) is vital in developing emotional Intelligence. Accepting our most embarrassing and confusing emotional reactions will lead to greater self-knowledge and emotional skillfulness. Accepting the emotional reactions (not behavior) of others will help us develop empathy and healthier, happier relationships.
If we can accept our differences in perceptions and emotional reactions we avoid two destructive impulses.
1. If we accept our feelings fully we are less tempted to blame the other person for our reactions. It isn’t accurate to say “you make me so angry….”. When we try to justify our feelings through blame, we only make a difficult situation worse. If I’m angry about a colleague’s behavior, it is my anger. I can describe the behavior and what I wish changed, but the feeling is mine. Other people may not perceive the situation in the same way. They may not feel angry -- but this doesn’t matter.
2.. As we accept our feelings we grow to understand our triggers. As we understand these triggers (a lifelong process), we are more prepared for them and are more able to manage our reactions.
Don’ let anyone criticize your feelings. Someone can question your actions, but never your feelings. Our feelings are data about our inner and outer environment. We need to explore this data--not suppress and deny it. As we explore our emotions we may find that our inner perceptions are based on faulty conclusions from the past. We may work to change dysfunctional thoughts which lead to emotions that don’t accurately reflect outer reality. Or we may find that our emotions are giving us valuable data about our outer environment.
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved