It is not about managing your emotions, it is about managing your reaction to your emotions
– Yung Pueblo
Managing your emotions with compassion is the key to personal growth. Many times, when I am going through a difficult moment in my life, I tend to criticize my reaction. Not only is what I am going through pretty tough according to most people’s standards, but I like to add an extra layer of ruthless judgment to it, like a double whammy pity party. My inner critic dons her best dress and has a ball. “You should’ve known better.” “The signs were all there.” “Why are you acting this way?” “When are you going to learn?” Groovy.
It’s perfectionism in recovery at its best. There’s a part of me that thinks- “I’ve done the work, I practice what I preach and yet… I feel all of these feelings.” The thing about the inner critic is that she expects perfection so that I will never go through another bad moment, ever for the rest of my life. And if there will be such a bad moment, I will handle it with grace and cunning intuition. The inner critic has learned from past experiences that if she’s not mercilessly honest, I won’t learn my lesson. She focuses on the “not enough-ness” of any situation to motivate me to try harder. However, she is mean and stubborn. The inner critic doesn’t recognize that years of beating me down won’t motivate me to get back up, if anything, I stay down a little longer.
How can I feel my feelings without making it worse? Cue in compassion and intuition.
Compassion is a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. It is acknowledging how you are feeling about something and … then making sense of it. In order to do that, you need time and space to think without the negative barrage of “should’ve could’ve” firing at you every two seconds. It’s staying in the moment and bringing yourself back to the moment each time you want to go to the past filled with regrets. It’s learning. Observing. “I react like this when this happens because this deep feeling comes up for me. How can I deal with this better next time?” Ah, but to get to this insight takes work.
- Takes perseverance.
- Takes ownership of it all.
- Takes an objective ear to hear you and highlight parts you can’t see because you are so in it.