One of the skills that we learn when we are young is sorting. We sort by colors, shapes, sizes, and types. We sort crayons, blocks, people, toys, and numbers. As we get older, we sort more complex things, plants, animals, fractions, books, companies, and policies. We have degrees in criminal justice, medical fields, trees, and history that involve detailed sorting. Perhaps you are trained to sort people or products. I know I sort people into categories in my work, in my faith, in my family. But something many people struggle to sort are emotions.
Often I hear things like “I’m just angry, and I don’t know why” or “I’m done. I don’t even feel anymore”. Perhaps you recognize that your emotions are almost an all or nothing situation. You go for long periods without noticing any ups or downs, and then you all of a sudden feel angry. Or maybe you seem to be frustrated and angry most of the time. And actually when you stop to think about it, you realize that you haven’t laughed out loud in a while. Maybe you haven't laughed all week, or has it been a month? You have thoughts, and there are emotions, but they are deep and you think no one else sees them. But they do.
When we have emotions, we sort them into categories. We know at work, we should only have certain expressions, so we choose what level we allow ourselves to engage. For example, we will laugh lightly at a simple joke, or smile nicely to greet someone in the morning. However, we are not committed to any real depth or intellectual processing of the emotion. It can be a habit of expressing an emotion without even truly enjoying the feeling of it. Perhaps with your children or close friends you are more willing to freely engage in true laughter, carefree intensity of happiness. And with a few true intimate relationships, you can be your true self; no holds barred emotion. Anger, Joy, Fear, Love.
We can choose each morning and throughout the day what attitudes we have toward our circumstances, other people, and ourselves. As we choose attitudes, we can more clearly sort emotions. We can determine which level of frustration, or anger, or irritation we have. Or perhaps we have love, or infatuation. As we clarify where certain emotions are gathering, we can make sure we are keeping them directed in the appropriate place and not bleeding into other relationships or situations. If you find that fear or anger or anxiety seems to be surrounding certain concerns, it would be great to bring them up with your coach to explore finding freedom from these challenging emotions.
Relationship Advantage was founded by Ginger Johnson. Ginger is passionate about relationships because she knows they can be messy and difficult to maintain. It’s her goal to help people find the right tools to achieve great results. Healthy relationships lead to greater contentment, joy, and inner wellbeing. Whether meeting one on one, in a group or as an organization, she will help strengthen bonds through a mix of coaching, mediation and consulting.