When we learn to Self-Validate, we no longer seek the approval, agreement, or permission from others to have and express our feelings. We honor that what we feel is real and worth exploring, even when others don’t validate our feelings.
Decision-making seems like such a basic skill. However, we sometimes do not think things all the way through. The results can be catastrophic or at least cause a setback if we make decisions while we are emotional. Our brains actually function differently when it is overwhelmed with negative emotions such as fear, frustration, anger, anxiety, etc. At that time it does not operate at full capacity. So it is important not to make major decisions that can alter the course of our lives when we are experiencing those feelings.
But how do we avoid taking certain actions when we’re emotional? We know that is usually the time that we want to strike back, express ourselves, tell it like it is, or make some over-the-top outward display of action until others feel the intensity of what we are dealing with inside. Then, after we come back to our senses, it’s common to have some regrets about what we did or said while we were heated.
Try these steps to keep your balance while dealing with emotional situations, so that you can make important decisions with a clear head and decrease the number of apologies you have to dish out.
- Pause to Self-Check and Tune Into How You Are Feeling. As soon as you notice that your heart is beating faster, your frustration levels are going up, you’re becoming increasingly agitated and uncomfortable with the situation – start self-checking. Notice these things happening within your mind and body and decide to take healthy actions that take care of yourself.
- Use Deep Breathing to Draw Your Attention Back In. To slow yourself down, slow down your breathing. It’s likely that your mind was going a million miles a minute in its emotional state and taking long deep breaths puts you back in control while sending a message to your rapidly beating heart and overworking mind that it is time to start coming back to a calmer pace. It may take a moment or two but just keep breathing deeply imagining every breath brings your awareness back to what’s important – taking care of yourself.
- Encourage Yourself with Soothing Self-Talk. Start coaching yourself the way you would someone else that you care about. Let yourself know that everything is going to be okay and that this too shall pass. Be supportive of yourself in that moment and remember that at the end of the day what’s important is that you approve of yourself and behaviors. It is okay to disagree with others just like it is okay if they don’t agree with you. Let go of as much as you can and encourage yourself with positive inner dialogue.
- Refocus and Remember What You’re All About. Remind yourself of your goals. Do an inventory of whether the situation causing you stress is getting you closer to or further away from those goals. If you determine that it is a barrier to what you’re all about or what you’re trying to accomplish, be prepared to make sound decisions about overcoming or removing those stressors from your life.
- Take Time to Make the Decisions that are Right For You. If possible, allow yourself time to process your emotions and let things settle down a bit before you come to final conclusions about what you’ve experienced. Things look different after we’ve stepped away from it for a while and you may be in a better position to make decisions that are best for you from a clear head.
If we allow our emotions to rule our behaviors, we spend a lot of time cleaning up messes we wish we’d never made. Grounding yourself after an emotional run-in is important and can help you to make decisions that you can be confident in. Self-awareness is key, and a willingness to use techniques to regain your balance can help you improve your decision-making skills and ultimately improve the quality of your life.
There are a lot of things that we are taught during the early years of our lives under the guise that they are important to know for our success as human beings. However, I can’t remember the last time an algebraic formula saved my life. I would have appreciated a class on “How to Maintain Peace in the Face of Challenge,” or a cognitive-behavioral based course titled “You are Not Your Thoughts” offered around the 4th grade. A ‘How-To Survive Life with Your Sanity’ style curriculum starting in kindergarten would probably have reduced the individual instances of mental health conditions and contributed to a more stable society as a whole. Yes, I know… reading, writing and arithmetic – but that could’ve been covered in the span of a year with the remainder of our youth education being focused on life skills, interpersonal effectiveness, dealing with emotion, loving ourselves, and having a healthy relationship with God. But, dreams.
In reality, it takes for us to get to a certain point in life where we notice our own dysfunctional patterns and decide to do something about it. One of the main commodities that we reach for is peace. Which really isn’t a “commodity” at all but when we don’t experience it, we do view it as a thing to attain. The truth is, it’s really a state that exists within us that’s been there the entire time. And on an even deeper level, we realize that peace is our essential nature – supporting the inferences that everything we need is already inside of us and the “Kingdom of God is within” per Jesus.
Prayer, meditation, and visualization are means of moving into a state of consciousness that puts us more in tune with our source of peace. Prayer allows us to speak to God. Meditation allows us to hear from God. And visualization is how we co-create our experience which is a blend of our free will and God’s will for us (as a sidenote, we ultimately want to get to a place where we use our free will to stay in the will of God).
Our journey will have many challenges. We may create unnecessary complexities. Life will continue to throw intense situations our way. There may be unexpected circumstances beyond our control. What we can control is our approach. By taking an approach of peace – peace of mind and spirit which comes from trusting that all things have a purpose and somehow come together in mysterious ways for the glory of God – we are able to survive with our sanity, and actually enjoy this gift of life we’ve been given.
Think of the years that have been wasted attempting to modify who you are in hopes that you will be more acceptable to others. We don’t like to admit that we do this. In fact, if anyone asks us we’re prone to deny it and respond with some cliché statement like, “I don’t really care what anyone else thinks.” Yeah, we do. And it hurts us when we’re receiving messages from others, especially those we care about, that our ways are undesirable.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and there are those people that we don’t give a hot flip what they think – but overall, as humans we read the feedback in our environment and we’d prefer it be positive. That is normal. But we can also take it too far. We can take caring about what others say about who we are so far that we end up losing ourselves trying to be who they want us to be. We have to be careful of this, because sometimes we don’t even know it’s happening. You can get so involved in your career that you develop the personality that enables you to do your job well but could be out of alignment with who you truly are. Or you could be in a relationship with someone that you love dearly, and in trying to make them happy you inadvertently begin to compromise how you would usually express yourself. These situations can go on for a long time, but one day you decide that you are ready to reconnect and rediscover who you naturally are so that you can begin to live in your truth again.
Being your authentic self is easier said than done. First, as we accumulate experiences and get older, our views and perspectives change. We change so much over the years that it may be necessary to re-evaluate our goals and set new ones, and we may even have to discover who we are and what we want at the current stage in life. So being yourself, may require fresh self-examination to determine who you are now. You know who you were, what you’ve been through, and where you’ve come from – but who are you now? That’s not an easy answer for everyone, and we all deserve the opportunity to explore ourselves in whatever way necessary to discover our truth. This requires time and space.
You’ll need to give yourself permission to take whatever time is needed in your journey to self-discovery and self-realization. These things don’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s a lifetime journey so you may as well get comfortable. You’re going to need space, which also isn’t so easy to come by if you’ve got little people running around you all the time or a mountain of other responsibilities that cause you to be involved with others more than you’d like to be. Bottom line is that making time and creating space for yourself to engage in the self-discovery that it’s going to take to realize your authentic self is going to take major effort. You’ll have to schedule it and let nothing stand in your way when you decide to take that hour out of your day for your prayer, meditation, devotion, and visualization time. You’ll have to be just as adamant about contributing to your own development as you’ve been about helping people with theirs. If someone asked you to be there for them for an hour, you’d probably do it. So how about be there for yourself so you can take your work (of realizing and expressing your authentic self) to the next level.