Watch the video above or read the transcript below:
What’s up everybody?
I wanted to put together a quick video about dealing with emotions, because it’s a topic that keeps coming up so often. It’s universal to gender, race, ethnicity and culture – whatever you want to call it.
Emotions are normal
We are all humans, and most of the time what I see is people dealing with emotion in a really unhelpful way, and I wanted to just shed some light on it, based on what I’ve seen.
So the way, I see it, there’s two key values that we bring some managing our emotions: one is Responsibility and the other is Acceptance.
If somebody was to fall on either or both of these values, their emotions become something like an enemy; their emotions become something that is harmful and painful to experience, and I want to have a look at the difference between the people who apply these values to emotions and the people who do not.
The one who drowns
I’d like to use a wave analogy – like waves in the ocean.
The first example is somebody who accepts emotion but does not take responsibility for emotion.
This is the equivalent of the person who drowns in the waves. The waves crush them. The waves overpower them. Every emotional wave that comes at them completely owns who they are and completely transforms their behavior.
These are the kind of people who can’t seem to control themselves. They’re hysterical, or they’re easily offended and easily provoked, and they just seem unstable emotionally.
Yet, they definitely have no problem letting their emotions show, or at least they have very few problems letting emotion show. They have acceptance about being emotional but they do not take responsibility for managing their emotions.
They are victims to their emotions, they’re bowled over and they drown in the waves.
The one who builds a wall
The second type of person is the person who takes responsibility for emotions, but does not accept them.
This is the kind of person who builds up a dam or a wall trying to block the waves. This is a kind of person who on the outside look unaffected, cool, completely a rock – unemotional.
What they do is they build a wall because they don’t accept that emotions should be happening and they feel that they are in control. They’ve taken responsibility for their emotion, but they’re not accepting that the emotions happen.
They’re controlling it, like somebody trying to control a child having a tantrum.
What happens with these people is eventually they transform into the first person; they drown because the wall breaks. So the wall breaks and the massive tidal wave of emotion that they’ve been holding back hits them, and they snap!
You’ll see this every couple of years with this kind of person – they’ll snap and end a relationship, or they’ll just randomly quit their job, or they’ll just have meltdowns once a year or so as everything comes over the wall and crushes them.
Or they’re so successful in building such a big strong high wall that they become apathetic. They become unable to experience a range of emotion – no highs, no lows, just this boredom in the middle.
This is what I used to be. My wall was very strong.
They either get crushed and they become the first person, or they build a wall strong enough that they basically become apathetic or even psychopathic.
The one who surfs
Then there’s the third person…
The third person not only accepts responsibility for their emotions, they also accept their emotions. They see emotions as helpful, as being fuel for them to live by their values. This is the person who surfs the wave.
They’re not overwhelmed by their emotions and crushed by them and owned by them. And they don’t feel ashamed of their emotions and try to hide it.
Instead, they see each emotional wave as a powerful tool that they can use to the benefit of themselves and the benefit of the universe.
In more practical terms, if they were angry, they’ll use that anger as courage or they would use that anger to find the the power to be honest. They would use the anger as it occurred to them.
If they were sad, they’d use this to reflect. They’d use this to journal. They’d use this to appreciate and show gratitude for something.
They use each of their emotions and no emotion outranks another. See, the second guy who builds the wall to keep emotion out, what he’s trying to do is only allow certain waves in: Happiness, pleasure, excitement, peacefulness, etc. and block all the rest.
But you can’t choose which waves come through, that’s not how life works. Emotions are like the ocean, they just pile on in and you don’t have any control or say over it.
The other one…
There is a fourth person, and that is the psychopath.
They don’t need to build a wall because there are no waves. They sit in a dead lake and they have complete control because there’s nothing to be controlled.
So the second person is building a wall in their mind. They’re like “I’m being strong because I’m independent of my emotions blah blah blah” but in reality they’re just turning themselves into the psychopath.
They’re turning the wild ocean into a calm lake, which means they won’t feel anything at all and therefore not really live.
I just wanted to point that one out.
You can surf the wave of emotion.
Rather than letting it control you, or rather than trying to control it, you work with it, as a source of fuel to live by your values.
My challenge to you is an exercise: to write down every emotion you can think of and next to it, write: “How would I use this emotion to help me?”
Get to the point where you accept all emotions as helpful, and you have a plan as to how you’re going to take responsibility for using them in a powerful way.