The door slammed behind me as I stomped out the door, jumped into the car and drove away fuming. The same old argument with my husband with the same old results. The anger was so intense it felt like I simply could not stay in the same house with him without exploding. Why? Why couldn’t I control this monster so I could think clearly and explain my point of view calmly?
I am normally a fairly rational, logical, well-spoken person who can usually make a good case for my point of view. Emotion rarely gets the best of me. So why did some conversations leave me almost irrationally angry?
Why do emotions get the best of us some days?
When a normally calm person loses their ever lovin’ mind, there are two main reasons:
Living for too long in your head: we are either so overworked or overwhelmed that we are completely out of touch with emotions and have been burying them for a long time or
It is a gift of compassion: They are highly sensitive to the emotions of others and are reacting to the emotional intensity of the people around them.
Living too much in your head
There are a couple of common reasons why people are so much in their head they are completely out of touch with their emotions
1 – Extremely goal and future focused
2 – Victims of trauma
People with a strong type A personality are driven by the need for achievement, power and control. They spend the bulk of their time setting goals and pursuing projects designed to meet those goals. Their life is almost entirely future focused, believing that getting over the next hill is the purpose of life.
They have very little connection to feelings, theirs or anyone else’s. Feelings don’t matter when there is a job to be done. These folks don’t deal with feelings. Until those feelings escalate to the size of a tornado, they don’t notice them.
Once the tornado hits, there are two options – explode, let things and relationships blow up, get over it and get on with life, or recognize the chaos is ruining your relationships and take steps to get more grounded in the present.
Past trauma keeps us out of our body – it’s not safe to be you so you create a self capable of withstanding the abuse, protecting your real self. It’s a necessary survival skill when we need it. Unfortunately, over the long haul, it leaves us completely out of touch with our real self, our needs and our feelings.
Ideas for grounding in the present
Get a massage
Hot bath with Epson salts
Get out in nature
Time for hobbies
Sounds like something you’ve heard before, right? We don’t do those things because we tell ourselves stories about why we can’t, why we don’t deserve, why it has to wait.
Sit down with a journal and explore those stories. What has led you to believe them? Culture? Upbringing? Low self-worth? Journal through these questions:
Are you absolutely, positively 100% sure what you believe about why you can’t compassionately care for your needs is true?
What if that story is not true?
What else might possibly be true?
What would your life be like if you changed your story?
These questions and more insights for how to use them originated with Byron Katie and can be found on her website at TheWork.com
Changing your story is not easy. Our stories come from our core identity which starts forming in childhood. Taking the time to uncover and explore those stories is the first step to bringing them into conscious awareness where we can start to rewrite them.
If living too much in your head isn’t the problem yet you still experience emotions that seem to overwhelm you from out of the blue you could be someone with an unrecognized gift of compassion.
The Gift of Compassion
Not all emotions you feel are actually yours! When someone has the spiritual gift of compassion, they have been given a hyper sensitive nervous system. You are very in tune with the feelings of people around you and you have a desire to help.
You are the person who everyone turns to when they need a friend who will listen. You are the person who finds even new acquaintances will share intimate details of their life with you. You might believe you are shy and “too sensitive” to the sorrows of the world.
In truth, you have a gift. A very necessary and probably the most important gift. What the world needs, more than anything is more compassion. People with the spiritual gift of compassion are uniquely equipped to be the listening ear, the shoulder to cry on, the encouraging word for the rest of us.
Part of the tools you were born with is a super sensitive sensory system. You pick up on emotional vibes in a room that other people just miss. Sometimes a random feeling will hit you out of the blue that has no relation to what you were doing or thinking.
You stand quietly at the door of a crowded room and within a few moments, you know who is suffering, who is sad, who is angry, who is tense. If not the exact person, you know the feeling is somewhere in the room.
If you aren’t aware of your gift, it’s natural to assume those feelings are coming from inside yourself. No matter how you try to deal with them, they don’t go away however, because they aren’t yours.
Because what you feel is not really yours so you can’t master it. The message the emotion is trying to send isn’t about you, it didn’t originate in your soul. Your role is to intercede in prayer and seek God’s leading for how He would have you respond. Sometime the best thing you can do is pray, especially if it’s those feelings that wake you up in the middle of the night and you have no idea where they are coming from. Sometimes God will lead you to call or text someone. Maybe there is a need you can fill.
For people with the gift of compassion, learning to work with your feelings is crucial so you can operate fully in your gift. Learn to discern what is yours and what is coming from someone else.
So, what’s my excuse?
I’m a bit of both. Sometimes I get so deep into pursuing goals and projects that I’m burned out and don’t even recognize it. Those are the times when it doesn’t take much spark to ignite a firestorm. It means I have to force myself to take breaks, acknowledge I’m not superwoman and admit I need a hug sometimes.
I’m also highly sensitive. When the emotional temperature of a room gets high, I feel the intensity. I didn’t always understand the gift of compassion and how it affects you. Realizing where the emotional energy is coming from means I have a better sense of how the other person feels. I can have greater empathy for their point of view. The ability to separate their feelings from my own means I can tame the angry monster and focus on better communication.
The goal is not to become emotion-less or even to always be blissfully happy. All emotions are a gift. They enhance our experience of life and give us valuable data about what is going on inside of us. Click here to learn more about tapping into the intuition of emotions.