Thursday, August 18, 2016

Emotions & neutrality

Have you been guilty of doing what I've done for way too many years—judging my emotions and putting labels on them? Happiness is good. Anger is bad, etc.

Through the years, I've learned that emotions simply are. They're not good or bad. How we feel is how we feel. And yet, some old tapes play every now and again ... and I return to judging my emotions.

If you do that, too, perhaps you'll also want to try learning the power of neutrality. Declare a neutral zone for your emotions. It's OK to feel whatever emotion comes up. It's what we do with those emotions—how we act them out—that can be positive or negative. If, for example, I feel anger at something you say to me, that's real and honest. Not good or bad. Just neutral. However, if I turn around and smack you because I'm angry, I've definitely moved things out of neutral territory. On the other hand, if I can register the anger inside (notice and acknowledge the feeling), stop and then make a decision as to what I'll do about it, I'm much better off. Most likely, I'll then do one of two things: say something right on the spot about how the remark made me feel—or excuse myself because I don't trust what I might say right then. In that case, I'll reflect on what's just happened and then decide how and when to talk about it with you—or even if I need to say anything at all.

Considering what to do with our emotions is a helpful thing to do. Judging the emotion itself is not. Allow yourself that feeling of neutrality and give yourself the space to decide how to act on the emotion, if any action is needed at all. Let go of judging.

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