From August 18 and 19, 2012, I received over two dozen “google alerts” for articles about emotions that had appeared on the web. The range of topics is dizzying–everything from baseball and violence to finance and pregnancy.
Here are just a few:
Boys who suppress their emotions could turn to violence
Gary Sinise and The Lt. Dan Band deliver rocking, emotional performance
Peterson judge: Keep emotions in check
Use Logic; Emotions dangerous during financial drought
A selfless act could be purely emotional
Beware the emotional vampires who feast on our souls at work and in life
Emotional Fitness: 7 tips about money and emotions
Matheny working with Lynn on harnessing emotions (baseball)
But what I’ve noticed is that none of these articles use the word “emotions” correctly. What I’ve discovered is that emotions are just pure physical sensations in our bodies—nothing more than reactions to specific events. And although they show up in myriad forms, we really only experience six emotions, existing in opposites like yin and yang: sadness and joy, anger and love, fear and peace.
It’s also good to know that feelings are different from emotions. Feelings are emotions plus our mental interpretation of them given our history and the current circumstances. Understanding that emotions are just energy, devoid of thoughts, puts you in a prime position to start handling them physically, constructively, and immediately.
No doubt you’ve heard many experts touting mindfulness and deep breathing as ways to get an upper hand on our emotions. But I disagree. It’s far more effective to let the pure emotional energy of sadness, anger, and fear out of your body so it can dissipate quickly and you can get on with your day.
So next time you’re in the throngs of emotion, don’t try to think, will, or ignore your way out of it. Do what young children do. When they feel sadness, they cry; when angry they have a temper tantrum; and when afraid they shiver and shake.
Think about it– that’s what we all did naturally before succumbing to the messages of our families, peers, and culture. We moved whatever energy we were experiencing in the moment out of our bodies physically and constructively. If we rewind time and give ourselves permission to do the same, that energy will quickly pass, and we’ll return back to our present, loving, and joyful selves.