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“You’re so emotional” and “you are so sensitive” are two comments my ears got used to hearing growing up—and much into my adult life.
When I was in my mid-20s, I had a disagreement (which ended up being a falling out) with friends who also happened to be my roommates.
I won’t bore with the details of the story, but what it boiled down to was me standing up for myself in a situation that did not feel good. I was angry, hurt, and my whole value system was being tested.
My inner people pleaser had a habit of letting things slide and using acceptance (or one might say, bypassing) to keep the peace. I wasn’t used to taking a stand for what didn’t feel right, so when I did this time, it was a volcanic eruption of anger and reactions from layers of hurt.
When I reflect on the situation, I can pinpoint where we were all projecting on to one another and had built up resentment that eventually erupted into chaos. I ended up moving out of the home, and the relationships dissolved.
After I relocated, one of them sent me an email to share their perspective. It read like a short essay filled with more projections, some shaming, and they told me that I had zero emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence or EI is our ability to perceive, assess, and ultimately control our emotions.
Research varies on emotional intelligence; some researchers say it is possible to strengthen emotional intelligence, while others insist it is something we are born with.
Looking back to my “Three’s Company” living situation, none of us were operating at optimal emotional intelligence. Emotions were high; both parties gossiped, accused, and let the emotions run the show.
I think about that person I was in my mid-20s; no doubt I had growing to do, and because I did the learning, my emotional health is far more vital. My experience has shown me that it is possible to strengthen emotional intelligence.
What has helped me is learning to listen to the emotions in situations versus other people who might be triggering me.
The following are seven common emotions we all experience, ideas around what the feeling may be calling us to do, and some reflection prompts that may be helpful to process into action:
Anger signals us to create firm boundaries. Anger was the primary emotion experienced in my situation. I was angry because lines were crossed, and there were no boundaries.
Instead of pausing, gathering my thoughts, and calmly conversing on what I would accept and not, anger took over. I exploded and created the firmest boundary my overly emotional self could think of; I moved out.
I have learned to listen to anger now, and when I sense it, I know that I don’t have to cut someone off, shut them out, or move away and never speak to them again. Anger is my signal to pause, then have an emotionally intelligent conversation that will create firm boundaries, and let the other person(s) know what is okay and not okay.
Reflection prompt: with whom do I need to set boundaries?
Anxiety is a sign for me to get more information. We are usually anxious about situations because we are facing the unknown. The more we make the information known, the less anxious we become. Learning and gathering more information always helps ease my anxiety, even if it is a small bit at a time. If we can allow anxiety to be an arrow pointing us to the further information we are to learn, we can grow and feel better about what is to come.
Reflection prompt: what subject am I anxious about, and where or how can I learn more information?
We find ourselves in disappointment when we have expectations. I have learned that disappointment reveals itself when it is time for us to release expectations or address the many anticipations we set. When we can live expectation-free and not await anything in return, it is pretty difficult to be disappointed. Releasing control in situations and allowing others to be who they need to be is a freeing decision in itself.
Reflection prompt: what expectations have I set up, what expectations can I release, and can I choose to let others be who they choose to be?
This is perhaps one of my favorites. When fear appears, it signals us to take action. The angel lover I am says F.A.I.T.H. stands for finding angels in the heart, and F.E.A.R. stands for forgetting everything angels represent. If we truly lived like there were angels all around us all of the time, and we knew we couldn’t fail, we’d have nothing to fear.
I welcome fear to be a reminder to take significant action, and live as if my guardian angels were nudging me every step of the way. One of my biggest fears for a long time was flying in an airplane. I was so afraid of it I almost passed out on a trip to Hawaii after college graduation. When I was finally ready to listen to the fear, I decided to go all-in and become a flight attendant. I learned, flew for several years, and the fear is only a distant memory now. Fear is our GPS and tells us what to do next for growth.
Reflection prompt: where is fear pointing me to take action next, and what action is it I choose to take?
Jealousy is a sign it is time for us to manifest, dream, and scheme! We are envious of things we want, so when jealousy appears, we can take it as a sign of inspiration to manifest that very thing in our own lives. We can use jealousy as a motivational spark that guides us to dream and scheme on our next goal.
Reflection prompt: the envy I am feeling is showing me what is possible; what is that?
As much as this emotion is a bummer to experience, it is the ebb to the flow of one of my favorite emotions: love. Sadness tells us to open up to more love. Sadness can create a sense of being alone, withdrawal from others, and sometimes questioning our own worth. When we are in the flow with the emotion opposite of sadness, we may feel more happiness, joy, and connection.
I see sadness as a little whisper telling us to release whatever it is that stands in the way between us and love.
Reflection prompt: what can I release, and how can I open to experiencing more love?
Worry tells us to connect further to God, source energy, or a greater power of oneness. When we ruminate over actual or potential problems, we quickly slip into a state of worry. I ease worry by connecting to God; I use meditation, prayer, a strong daily ritual, and do what is in my power to live with the deep knowing that God is ultimately behind the wheel. When we surrender all to God, and live from that place, the worries dissipate as we embrace challenges as lessons happening for us, not to us.
Reflection prompt: how can I connect to God and source energy in a deeper way, and what can I surrender?
I would love to hear from you in the comments if any of these resonate, or not!
May this information be a spark of inspiration.