Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker

"Manage Your Reactions, But do not Suppress Your Emotions."

October 05, 2023 MaryAnn Walker Episode 62
Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker
"Manage Your Reactions, But do not Suppress Your Emotions."
Show Notes Transcript

I recently shared the following quote by Yung Pueblo on social media: "Manage your reactions, but do not suppress your emotions." 

This quote sparked some great conversations, so I decided to explore this quote in further detail here. 

The main points  include:

  1. The Difference Between Managing and Suppressing Emotions: Many people are confused about the distinction between managing and suppressing emotions. A common misconception is thinking that managing means hiding feelings or expressing them intensely.
  2. The Consequences of Suppressing Emotions: Suppressing emotions involves denying their existence, which is not a long-term solution. Much like holding a beach ball underwater,  emotions can resurface unpredictably and potentially harm oneself or others.
  3. The Impact on Mental and Physical Health: Suppressing emotions can lead to physical symptoms and, in the long run, contribute to stress-related illnesses. Emotions play a significant role in overall health.
  4. Identifying and Naming Emotions: Most people can only identify basic emotions like sadness, anger, and happiness. However, increasing emotional maturity involves probing deeper to understand more nuanced feelings.
  5. Noticing How Emotions Feel in the Body: Pay attention to how emotions manifest physically in your body. Understanding bodily sensations associated with emotions is a key step in processing and managing them.
  6. Choosing to Act Rather Than React: Managing emotions involves consciously choosing how to respond to them. Emotions drive actions. Identifying the emotion helps us to identify and communicate the underlying need. 
  7. The Power of Emotional Management: Effectively managing emotions  leads to solutions rather than problems. 
  8. Practicing Emotional Management: Emotional management is a skill worth developing over time. It takes practice, but is worth the effort.

Seeking Support? Come and work with me!  Click here to get started! 

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Hello, and welcome back. So I'm kind of an herbal tea junkie. I just love the stuff, especially on these cooler mornings, and I just found this herbal tea that I think is just amazing. It is a yogi tea, and it is cinnamon horchata, and oh my goodness. It is so tasty. I love adding in a little bit of almond milk with it. Mmm. It is just so good. So if you love herbal tea, go check it out and let me know what your favorite flavors are. So not too long ago, I posted the following quote on Instagram by young Pueblo and the quote reads, manage your reactions, but do not suppress your emotions. And shortly after I posted that, I got a message from somebody for one of my listeners and they said, Hey, I was really hoping that you had a podcast episode about how to manage your emotions. And I said, Oh my goodness, what a great idea. So I thought I would jump on here and record an episode quick on how to manage your emotions and what that looks like compared to suppressing them, Many people are confused about what it means to manage your emotions versus suppress their emotions, right? So they might think that it means, okay, well just don't let people know how you're feeling if you're managing it. It means stuffing it down, and when they're stuffing their emotions down, it can feel pretty dishonest, and that just doesn't feel very good. Or they might think that not suppressing their emotion means expressing every emotion very loudly and intensely. So, for example, they might think, well, if I'm not suppressing anger, then, like, doesn't that mean that I'm lashing out at everybody? Or if I'm not suppressing resentment, doesn't that mean that I'm being really passive aggressive? So, if you have thoughts like this, keep listening, because we're going to talk about what it looks like to manage your emotions. So first let's talk a little bit about what it actually means to suppress your emotions. I think that's going to really increase our awareness here. So to suppress your emotions means essentially denying the existence of these emotions, right? We're pretending that they don't exist. We're stuffing them down. We don't think that we should be. feeling these feelings, we don't think we should be feeling resentful, for example. And so we pretend we're not feeling resentful. We deny its existence, but this suppression is not a longterm solution. Eventually this emotion will come to the surface. And when it does, then we might not be able to control what happens. Suppressing our emotions is very similar to holding a beach ball under the water. Like, sure, we can do it for a little while, but eventually our arms are going to become tired. And that ball is eventually going to blast. out of the water. And when it does, it might hit us in the face, or it might fly out of the pool and hit somebody that we love or knock them off of their feet. We just don't know what will happen. But if we can consciously bring the ball or the emotion to the surface, so to speak, then there is significantly less chance of it doing harm to ourselves or to somebody that we love. When somebody suppresses an emotion, then they either consciously or unconsciously choose not to express or acknowledge that feeling. And this suppression can have potentially significant impact on an individual's mental and emotional well being, as well as on their relationships and their life overall. So, for example, let's say that Sarah has been feeling increasingly stressed at work due to a really heavy workload and really tight deadlines. And she decides that she really doesn't want to bother her colleagues or admit that she's really struggling. So she suppresses her stress and tries to put on a brave face at the office. And many things can happen as a result of this, for example, let's say that she's experiencing some physical symptoms, they might be showing up in the form of headaches or muscle tension or sleep problems, grinding teeth, digestive issues. And the longer that she ignores this burnout and overwhelm at work, the longer she ignores her stress that is creating these physical manifestations, the more severe those physical symptoms can become. She may even go to a doctor for medications for these physical ailments. I'm sure, they may be able to be managed with these medications. But ultimately, until she's able to find a resolution for her unresolved stress at work, her symptoms will more than likely continue and possibly intensify over time. Now, when I was studying to become a reflexologist, I learned a bit about disease, and in class, we referred to it as dis ease. When we first created the word disease, that's what we were referring to. It was in reference to a lack or an absence of ease. And what we have learned over time is that as much as 90 percent of illness and disease are in fact caused by stress. This means that if you have a goal to remain physically healthy, it is vital to learn how to process and navigate and manage your emotions in healthy ways. So in addition to physical illness, suppressing emotions can create a few other side effects too. And I feel a tiny bit like a commercial at this point. But listen to these side effects and think about if you're experiencing any of the following, okay? Poor mental health. Irritability. Emotional exhaustion. Relationship strain. And this might possibly be due to taking stress out on loved ones or on coworkers leading to an increase in misunderstandings and conflict. it might also result in decreased productivity. And so, for example, using the example of Sarah who was stressed at work, suppressing her emotion it led to burnout, headaches, sleep problems and digestive issues. And thinking about this list, we can now see what happens when we suppress our emotions. So often we think suppressing is managing, right? But that's the point I want to drive home is, no, like you need to really feel and process and manage your emotions rather than suppress them. And that will significantly improve your health and overall well being. So going back to our example of Sarah in the office who is feeling burned out and overwhelmed, if she learns how to process her emotions, then that could lead to not only a decrease in her physical ailments, but also a boost in her mental and emotional energy. And it could also result in her speaking up at work and potentially finding something that is more sustainable for her in the office. Because not only does her burnout impact her personally, but it also impacts the whole team, her whole family, her friend group, everybody that she interacts with. So it really is a kindness to learn how to navigate these emotions. So how can we process our emotions and create more supportive outcomes for ourselves? It all starts with giving our emotions a name. And it sounds so simple, but this is so true, and it is so powerful. In fact, brain science actually shows us that just giving your emotions a name can help you to feel happier. And how cool is that? We are learning so much about the power of emotions. So I want you to think for a minute about how many emotions do you experience in a day. And I want you to think about it for just a moment. So if you need to pause for a minute, go right ahead, but really think about it. How many emotions do you think you experience in a day? Most people are able to identify three emotions. They're essentially able to identify sad, mad, and glad. And it is fantastic to be able to identify these three emotions. And life is so much more. And so if you're someone who is only able to identify sad, mad and glad right now, see if you can probe a little bit deeper and see if you can increase your level of emotional maturity. So ask yourself questions like, okay, am I sad or am I lonely? What's the difference between those two? Am I mad? Am I feeling vindictive? Am I glad? Or am I content? Asking yourself questions to help to identify what the actual emotion can be can be a very valuable tool when it comes to processing and managing rather than suppressing emotions.

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Often times when I'm coaching somebody and I ask them, Okay, how does that make you feel? Rather than giving me a single word emotion, instead, they tell me more about their story.

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For example, they might say, well, it feels like they should have done a better job or it feels like they just aren't being very nice. And emotion is a single word. Let go of the story for a moment and see if you can identify the single word emotion. It will give you so much information. And after you have named your emotion, the next step is to get curious about how this emotion feels in your body. So for example, when I'm feeling lonely, I feel small. My shoulders come forward. My heart feels heavy. My eyes might be drawn downward. It might feel like a quiet rainstorm in my chest. It feels cloudy and heavy, and I can't really see very far. My breathing, it might be more slow and shallow. Whereas if I'm feeling content, then I feel more at peace. It feels more slow and calm. My body is relaxed. My breathing is slow and deep. My face is relaxed. My jaw is relaxed. I might notice that I even have a slight smile on my face. I feel present and centered and grounded. Processing emotions, it always starts with just noticing what is happening in your body and radically accepting it rather than resisting it. And you can practice this with both the positive and the negative emotions because honestly, emotions are not actually positive or negative. In fact, emotions are neutral until we make up a story about it. Whatever you're telling yourself about the emotion is going to impact. how you feel and if you feel like this is a positive or negative thing. So just notice what your story is because that can give you very valuable information. It can even be helpful to set a timer throughout the day and just check in with yourself at these various times to see what emotion you're feeling and see if you can identify how that emotion feels in your body. And this exercise is an amazing way to increase your level of emotional intelligence.

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I did this exercise often when I was training to become a life coach. And honestly, that was very impactful for me.

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So for real, try it out. It's kind of fun.

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And once we become consciously aware of what the emotion is that's coming up for us, that's when we can step into our hero energy and decide, okay, what do I want to create through this emotion on purpose?

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So, for example, if I am feeling taken advantage of, then I get to decide how I want to act rather than react emotionally in that situation. And that is where the managing is, right? Managing your emotions is choosing to act rather than react emotionally.

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So reacting to feeling taken advantage of, it might look like any number of things. So it might look like me getting withdrawn and shut down, or it might look very loud and confrontational. So just notice what's coming up for you and how those emotions are impacting how you show up. Our emotions always determine our actions. Always. And even actors know this. When they're auditioning for a role, they might ask themselves, okay, so what is the motivation for this character? What's their motivation?

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And their motivation is always an emotion.

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It's either desire, insecurity, fear, love. These emotions drive their characters actions, and the same is true for us. Our emotional state Impacts our actions. And when we're able to identify that, yes, I am feeling taken advantage of, then we can feel that emotion in our body, identify, okay, how does that feel in my body? And then we can decide how we want to show up on purpose. Use this emotion as information to identify what your need is. So, for example, maybe when you're feeling taken advantage of, then you choose to tell the other person, Well, hey, jerk face. Like, this isn't working for me. I'm out. Right? You can choose that. Or maybe instead you might choose to say something like, Hey, I'm feeling a little taken advantage of, and this relationship is really important to me, and I want to remain in a relationship, and because of that, I think that I might need, and then kind of fill in the blank, as to what it is that you currently need at that time. Use your emotions as information to identify what your underlying need is, and then choose to act rather than react. Emotionally. Maybe what you need in that moment is to hear more appreciation. Or maybe you need some time and space to catch your breath because you're feeling burned out. Or maybe you need a hug or something else to fill your cup. The feeling of being taken advantage of is not. the problem. It's our inability to manage our emotions that creates the problem. When we're truly managing our emotions, it doesn't create problems, it creates solutions. And that can be one way to identify if you're managing your emotions well, is if you're able to create some solutions for yourself. So think about it for a little moment. If you're feeling emotionally reactive and you come to an interaction with like your guns blazing and making accusations, what do you think it's going to create? Because more than likely it's going to be creating defensiveness for both parties, not change. Or maybe you come into the exchange feeling withdrawn and shut down so you don't actually address the lack of reciprocation. And if so, what's that going to create? More than likely, it's going to create further imbalance as well as decrease the odds of you having your needs met. Again, it's thinking, okay, if I were a character in a play and I was leading my role through this emotion, what would that be? Creating for me, become really aware of that. And maybe now you're starting to recognize that I should have shown up differently. Notice that, take that as information, stop shitting on yourself and maybe change the should into a could, could have done something differently. And now that I have more information, I can, I am learning from this experience. I am working to become more self aware and I'm using all of this as information to create something more supportive for me. And from here on out, I will remind myself that I now have the capability to show up in more emotionally mature ways. And hey, here's a little bonus tip for you. Give yourself some grace and celebrate your wins along the way. This is a process. Listening to one podcast episode at one time is... probably not going to create lasting change for you, right? So keep listening here on the podcast, keep practicing. It will start to feel more natural to you. I remember one client who told me, she said, you know, I managed my mind just fine in that situation, but I wasn't able to manage my body. She was still feeling all that buzzing in her body. And guess what? That's okay. That's just what emotions feel like. And it take the win, that yes, I managed my mind in that moment and I am learning how to manage and process and feel those emotions in my body. Learning how to process your emotions in your body is a skill that is worth investing time into developing. And hey, as usual, if this has been helpful for you, and if you find that you would like a little bit more customized support around managing your emotions and acting rather than reacting emotionally, come and work with me. I'm currently offering six week packages, and I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much you and I can accomplish in six weeks together. I would love to be your life coach. You can come to maryannwalker. life to get started. And hey, just a little request. If you're enjoying this content found here, would you please leave me a little review? It really does help me to reach more people and to have a greater impact. So hey, here's to managing rather than suppressing our emotions. I hope you have the best week and I'll see you next time. Bye now.