How many times have you ever said, “I’m angry”? Or “I’m sad”? Or any number of feelings that you “are”? To better manage your emotions, try recognising that you aren’t those emotions. You just feel them.
Photo by Marleah Cole.
As tips blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, our brains aren’t always the submissive thinking tools we like to believe they are. Your brain can start feeling things regardless of whether you want to, and you can’t always control them. The first step to managing those unexpected and sometimes uncontrollable feelings is to recognise what they are. And they’re not the whole of your personality, or even your emotional state:
Neuroscientist Alex Korb made an interesting distinction when I spoke to him. If you were to break your arm you would not tell people, “I am broken.” But when we feel anger we’re quick to say, “I am angry.”
And this causes a lot of unhappiness. Your arm lifts stuff. Just like your brain produces thoughts. That’s what it does. And as you well know, some of those thoughts are ridiculous. That doesn’t mean that’s who you are.
While the distinction might seem arbitrary, it’s key to dealing with your emotions. If you believe you are your feelings, well, there’s nothing you can do. If you treat being angry or sad or frustrated the same way you treat having a headache or being sore, you know you can take steps to alleviate the stress of that emotion.