Four years ago, when my boyfriend and I started dating, I sat him down and told him the blunt, honest truth. I told him, “I cry. A LOT. And I mean a lot. I cry when I’m upset, I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I stub my toe, I cry when I’m stressed. Sometimes, I cry just because I haven’t cried in a while. But I need you to realize, just because I’m crying does not mean that the world is going to end. Do you understand and accept this?” Luckily for me, he did. Crying was part of the contract.
Because I am proud to say that I recognize I am a highly emotional person. And I own it! And if you are having difficulty in day-to-day situations because of your disposition, or you feel guilty for being emotional–breathe a sigh of relief, because IT IS possible to succeed as a highly emotional person. Even if you don’t consider yourself emotional, but you spend lots of time around people who are, there are tips and tricks that you can use to navigate the ups and downs of your relationships.
Bitches Be Crazy?!
I don’t know about you, but I’m acutely aware of the acceptable emotional standards set by society. These unspoken rules are especially apparent when it comes to gender. There’s a double standard. Men can be angry and “manly” and express rage, but they are often viewed as weak if they express sadness. And sometimes, if they do, it’s viewed as risky and vulnerable; it tugs on the heartstrings of the public. Women are expected to be happy, cheerful people – devoid of anger or confrontation. When they cry, their delicate tears are viewed as beautiful. Isn’t this just a load of you-know-what!?
I remember in theater school, I had a teacher that would yell at me anytime I had to cry in a scene. She would say, “Don’t scrunch your face!” I had to keep my face stoic as I cried, my tears needed to be pleasing and appealing to the audience.
I don’t know about you, but I am
a pretty crier. My face and eyes get all blotchy, I hiccup and can’t catch my breath, and my voice wavers and sounds high-pitched. Not the kind of crying you ever see in the movies!
I find politics especially frustrating when it comes to emotion. Take this clip from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
It so perfectly describes the double standard. If women display anger or sadness, they are “unfit” for public office or considered “crazy”. I think Jon Stewart does a fantastic job of breaking down that standard and realizing how unnecessary and biased it has become.
And to tell you the truth, I have met PLENTY of emotional men that would be considered all kinds of crazy, if viewed by the same standards as women (I went to theater school – a breeding ground for emotional men and women!)
And for women, it doesn’t always have to be sadness. It can be anger, or any number of emotions. I know so many women who have difficulty expressing themselves as adults because of the patterns they were taught as children. “Don’t yell, it’s not ladylike!” This message was instilled in them from such an early age; their emotions have become stunted and suppressed and are just brewing inside them, without release. It takes years of work and therapy to release the channels that have been blocked for so long. And all because of our culture’s emotional standards!
Now I’m not saying that you have to be emotional. Lord knows that I’ve sometimes wished my natural disposition was a bit more even-keel, but it’s important to be true to your nature. If you are emotional, own it! If you very rarely experience strong emotions – work that too! There is no need to hide or change who you are. Because when it comes to emotion, it’s much healthier to learn to work with your nature, than against it.
It’s time to ditch the guilt and judgment over emotional behavior!
Emotions are natural, they are our soul’s way of letting us know how we are doing, what type of alignment we have with the Universe. Instead of suppressing or denying them – we should embrace them! Only then will we begin to erase the stigma. Your emotions are beautiful tools to use to your advantage. It’s possible to be a highly successful, yet emotional person.
First of all, you need to learn how to wrangle the emotions. But note this – If you feel like your emotional situation is beyond the scope of what I’m about to discuss, or you feel like you could harm yourself or others, I absolutely suggest consulting a healthcare professional (such as a doctor or therapist) first. I’ve learned a great deal about emotional people, through my own experience and through the experience of others, but you must be honest with yourself and the amount of control your emotions currently have over your life. They only become troublesome when they run you, when you’ve lost your control over them.
Here are some of my best tricks to become an emotional master:
- Plan for Them
- Learn Control
- Monthly Mantra
- Find an Emotional Outlet
- You Don’t Have to do it Alone
- Use it to your Advantage!
1. Plan for Them
When you are first starting out, it might feel like your emotions have taken the steering wheel, that your conscious mind has no control over how the external world makes you feel.
So I suggest, to truly learn how you can harness that power, you need to learn how to make space for them in your life.
If you are going to a sad movie, make sure you have tissues. If a situation in your life seems rocky, carry some sunglasses around, just incase you prefer to hide your eyes.
Please understand – I’m not suggesting these tools because I feel you should be ashamed of your emotions – NOT AT ALL! I suggest having a plan because you will start to discover power in creating a safe space to be emotional. And it often feels easier to do so without drawing attention to yourself in the process. Don’t even allow other people’s judgement or intrusion affect you during this moment of powerful discovery. This is how you can learn to control the situation, while still being true to your emotional nature.
For example, sometimes when I’m out in public and I get upset, I can’t help but start tearing up. It can be uncomfortable, maybe even a little embarrassing, and I especially hate it when I’m out with my boyfriend, because people start to stare him down, they start giving him these awful looks – they think HE is the reason I’m upset! It puts him in an awkward situation, and I hate that. I wish I could wear a big ole’ blinking sign that says, ‘Don’t worry about me – it’s no big deal – really! He’s a great boyfriend!”. But instead, I’ve started to devise a plan. I’ll hold his hand or give him a hug – anything to show, with my body language, that he is not the reason I am upset. By doing this, I can define the situation – and without compromising my emotional nature.
2. Learn Control
Once you’ve discovered how to manipulate outside circumstances to make room for your nature, it’s time to learn the power that you have over your tools.
I first learned the power that I have over my emotions by studying Method acting. Method acting often gets a bad rap, but that’s mainly because there is such a huge cultural misunderstanding about how it works. It taught me about how my thoughts impact my emotions . When it comes down to it, the thought comes first, and then the emotion follows. You HAVE the ability to change your thoughts…which means you have the ability to change your emotions! So if you ever have the desire to change your emotional state, you need to find the thoughts that can help get you there.
One of my favorite exercises comes from the lovely and inspirational Leonie Dawson . When she had her first child, she made a small list of all the things that she knew she could do to get her daughter to stop crying. Without fail, she would have a content baby by time she finished everything on her “Happiness List”. So Leonie suggests making a mood-boosting list for yourself! Write down 10 or so things that make you feel joy, activities and thoughts that you KNOW you can count on to put a smile on your face. Here’s my list:
- Think of my Monthly Mantra
- Take a walk around the park – especially in sunshine!
- Call my mom
- Watch Agape
- Turn on my favorite songs (love me some Glen Hansard!)
- Look at old vacation pictures/pictures of babies
- Make a 100 item gratitude list
- Write in my journal
- Do whatever I want! No guilt! No plans!
- Read self development or inspirational books
I kid you not; I’ve never completed this list. Usually, by time I try 1 or 2 of these things, my emotional state has shifted to a wonderful, joyful place. Because not only am I focusing on things that make me happy, I’m also NOT thinking about the situation that made me upset in the first place!
This is how you learn to control your emotions. They do not control you. They are an integral part of you, a part of you that makes you who you are – but they do not define you. They do not keep you from what you want to accomplish.
3. Monthly Mantra
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a Monthly Mantra is an emotional life saver. Adopting a thought or mini goal for yourself that can act as your go-to affirmation in tough times is such a powerful item in your toolbox. Because there will be times where you will want to experience a shift in your energy and you will desire actual, concrete guidance to get you there. Thinking of cute puppies won’t be enough! Your mind will search to “solve” the issue at hand. Your Monthly Mantra can be that guide. Affirmations are tools that create emotional change. By using a mantra, you will begin to see change not only in your emotions, but your outside circumstance as well. If you don’t feel like coming up with your own, feel free to join Soultiply’s Monthly Mantra series. I’ll always post this month’s mantra on the Soultiply homepage.
4. Find An Emotional Outlet
Sometimes finding an outlet can be all that you need in order to find a greater sense of balance and stability in your life. Outlets can include exercising, journaling, creative arts – you name it!
Journaling has always been a huge outlet for me; I’ve kept a private journal since I was 13 years old. As you can imagine, my old journals are just an emotional gold mine! Journaling is a beautiful way to put your feelings down on paper, to release them and dissect them, to give them their own space. After I write a journal entry, I feel a great sense of relief and clarity. Plus, reading old journal entries can be a hoot! It really puts everything into perspective. That fight you had with your mother, or that Biology test you were stressing about REALLY doesn’t matter 4 years later. It reminds you that one day, the same will apply to the worries of the present. If you are reading your journal entries at a later time – that means you have survived and thrived. And that’s something to be proud of, right?!
Many people find that exercising is a great relief, because it allows them to veg out and enter a meditative state. Meditation is pure gold for emotional people, as it allows you to experience a state of calm and peace, which might be hard for you to find in day-to-day life.
Acting was also a huge outlet for me growing up; it was an activity where I could release my own emotion through the disguise of a character. Music and fine arts are also great channels for emotion as well.
Find an outlet, and not only will you have a new found hobby, but you will find your emotional life will benefit too!
5. You Don’t Have to Do it Alone
Gaining power over your emotions can be a process. Emotional people have a lot to handle, a lot of balls to juggle, and it’s not shameful to ask for help.
Therapists can be great resources or even close family members or friends. Give yourself balance by surrounding yourself with people who have emotional strength.
My boyfriend and I are such an unusual pair because he is very even-keel and logical and I’m uber creative and emotional. When emotion has blinded my ability to reason, he steps in and helps me think things through. And it feels like a light bulb literally goes off over my head! He will say something and I’ll think, “YES! That’s exactly what I needed! Thank you!” He has the ability to step back from the emotion and analyze the situation at hand, by looking at the facts.
On the other hand, he says that my emotional nature helps him too. When he experiences loss or difficult times, my empathy and understanding can help him navigate terrain that he rarely has to face. For people who are more left brain centric than right, having an emotional person as a guide during difficult times can be extremely helpful. For someone who has a tighter emotional range, it can be difficult to deal with emotions in a healthy way. Emotional people make some of the best listeners and fully understand the social and emotional implications of situations where logic alone just won’t suffice.
Find your balance. It will help you immensely.
6. Use it to your Advantage!
Although it might sometimes feel like a burden – realize that you have a beautiful gift. You get the full experience of life! I wouldn’t trade my emotions for anything. Use this gift to your advantage and pursue the joy that is available to you! Although the upsetting times might seem to affect you more than some other people you may know, understand that you have the unique ability to feel joy so strong that it can make your heart feel on fire! As an emotional person, your capacity to love, empathize, and pursue joy is incredible! Use it!
I’ve devoted my life to helping people find joy and purpose in their own lives, because I know that it’s that important.
When you find it and you experience it, dwell in it! Live in that space for as long as you can.
And more importantly, remember how you got there.
Now I’m not talking about short-lived joys – (like sugary foods, drugs, alcohol). Those are all things that act as a mask – short term joy in exchange for long term pain.
I’m talking about finding that place inside of you where you can live – where joy always resides and is never depleted. It starts with shifting your mindset and realizing you have control over your internal landscape. Live in the internal joy, and the external joy (your circumstances, the world around you) will begin to match what you feel inside.
Plus, once you develop the ability to manipulate your emotions, you will discover the little perks. If you learn to shed a few tears in order to keep your car from getting towed, I won’t tell anyone. 😉
With these tips, you will realize that your emotions are just another valuable component of your life. They do not rule you, they do not keep you down.
What are some other strategies that you’ve used to manage your emotional nature? Share with me in the comments below!
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