Emotions play important role in our life. Many people find themselves emotionally sensitive or overly emotional. Emotional re-activity is normal, especially in close relationships. However, if emotional reactivity occurs often, it serves as barrier to personal growth and happiness and even become destructive to well being and relationships.
Some individuals know how to deal with “external” challenges that has clear and specific solution. However, emotional challenges, that is an internal, have no clear solution (black or white, right or wrong, keep or remove etc.) might be difficult for them to solve or manage. Emotional challenges require emotional intelligence and emotional skills to be solved.
Emotional regulation or emotional intelligence is our ability to manage our emotions instead of being managed by them. It is acting effectively rather than impulsively. The key is to learn to be more emotionally intelligent and responsive to situations rather than reactive.
Emotion regulation teaches the necessary skills to manage emotions in a healthy way. It enables us to understand how our emotions work, and coach us the skills we need to manage our emotions instead of being managed by them. Emotional regulation reduces our vulnerability to negative emotions, and builds positive emotional experiences. Emotional regulation takes practice and patient. But as you get the hang of using some of these techniques, you will see your relationship to the negative emotions and intolerable feelings change.
Daniel Goldman in his book Emotional Intelligence wrote that IQ predicts only 10% of life success, while EI (Emotional Intelligence) is a better predictor for such success and happiness. So, developing your emotional growth is the best investment you will ever take. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives and character of all those around you. Emotional management and overcoming anger management are going hand to hand. So, wherever you start to take care of your emotional well-being, you are in a moving toward becoming better and happy person.
In addition, fundamental healing comes from a willingness to deeply experience, explore, and feel one’s emotions that are related to both present and past circumstances. Unexamined feelings can often lead to unwanted or painful symptoms. The process of understanding one’s feelings and emotions allows one to realize fear and loss. Healthy processing of fear and loss allows for the purging of emotions which creates space for new, more positive emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
As such, spiral2grow of New York City, located on 260 Madison teaches the skills needed to manage our emotions (reduce suffering and promote positive emotions). spiral2grow integrates proven best of practices that includes DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills into the client’s lives to become more emotionally healthy and to build lives that are worth living.
Emotion Regulation Overview
Emotion regulation teaches the necessary skills to manage emotions in a healthy way. It enables us to understand how our emotions work, and coach us the skills we need to manage our emotions instead of being managed by them. Emotional regulation reduces our vulnerability to negative emotions, and builds positive emotional experiences. All emotions are valid and important. Our emotions often drive our behavior, while our behavior tends to focus on finding ways to get our emotions validated or to get rid of the pain in some way. The key is to be aware of our emotions, understand its meaning and translate them to our needs. The need thereafter should be expressed in a healthy, constructive and assertive way. This is why regulating emotions is a central part of healthy living. Emotional regulation takes practice and patient. But as you get the hang of using some of these techniques, you will see your relationship to the negative emotions and intolerable feelings change.
Emotional Intelligence (EI or IQ)
Daniel Goldman said that EI predicts only 10% of life success, while EI (Emotional Intelligence) is a better predictor for such success and happiness. In addition, IQ seems to be constant over life span, while EI can change through all ages, So, investing in yourself and particularly your emotional growth is the best investment you will ever take. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives and character of all those around you. Emotional management and anger management are going hand to hand. So, wherever you start to take care of your emotional well-being, you are in a moving toward becoming better and happy person.
Symptoms of Emotionally Reactive People
Usually, reactive people are self-conscious about their emotional vulnerability and embarrassed about how they feel and so they try to avoid their feelings. They’ve judged themselves as “too sensitive” or “overly emotional” or “weak and needy” and denied or repressed their feelings. Reactive people may portray the following symptoms:
- quick to lose their temper
- significant mood swings including depression
- prone to anxiety and worry
- experience sudden tearfulness
- become flooded with unwanted feelings
- say or do things they’re embarrassed about later
- blame and complain
Dangers of Emotional Reactivity
The following are potential dangers of emotional reactivity:
- Emotional reactivity is destructive.
- Emotional reactivity creates defensiveness.
- Emotional reactivity is catchy and amplifies situations.
- Emotional reactivity is disrespectful and even aggressive.
- Emotional reactivity undermines trust and collaboration.
- Emotional reactivity hinders communication, problem solving and conflict resolution.
- Emotional reactivity focuses on personal pain and prevents listening & understanding of others.
How To Manage Your Emotions
The first thing to do is to STOP, experience and identify your emotion. After learning to experience and identify your emotions, you need and ask yourself, “What feeling or experience on the inside of me am I reacting against feeling?” This is hard to do because your reaction is, by definition, an effort to move away from what is happening deeper inside. So you naturally keep focusing on what the other person is doing that has evoked the experience. Psychotherapy and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) teaches you how to monitor and interrupt this automatic process. It helps you redirect your energy from changing your partner to learning what is happening inside. It helps you to become self-reflective in the midst of difficult feelings. It is meant to help you look inward on the way to expressing your deeper feelings to your partner.
When you ask that question (“What feeling or experience on the inside of me am I reacting against?”) you start relating to your internal feelings, the ones inside you that you have been fighting against. Psychotherapy is a safe place for you to experience and explore feelings that have previously been unwelcome.
By adapting a stance of interest and exploration toward your feelings and needs, you can start changes things. This stance makes way for new behavior to form which allows yourself to grow and change. You start to accept these feelings and experiences that you have tended to reject. This helps you to become more in charge of what and how you communicate and behave. When you begin to understand these difficult parts of yourselves you stop blaming and complaining and start taking control over your feelings, thoughts and situations.
Also, when you accept your feelings, understand your needs and able to express them constructively, your partner is much more likely to be willing to cooperate/help when we take this kind of responsibility for what is happening inside. The result enables you to build relationship which is healthier and abundant.
Responding to situations in this manner is called “containing” or “processing” your feelings. It takes time and practice to learn to respond rather than react. But the investment will pay large dividends for you and those in relationship with you. Being responsive will help you make better decisions and get along better with others. It’ll help you accomplish more and gain other people’s respect and cooperation. It’ll also help you stay calm and confident when dealing with people who overreact!
How To Avoid Emotional Reactivity
Do you feel that your interpersonal relationships become difficult? Do you find yourself annoyed and irritated too often? Do you take things personally? Do other people find you over-reactive – leaving you feeling confused and upset and alone?
These kind situations and others can be repetitive and can easily spiral out of control. You may find yourself feeling trapped and confused in your own reactions.
The following are signs that you are being emotionally reactive:
- You are quick to lose their temper
- You are insulted at the slightest little thing.
- Your response is often out of proportion to the situation.
- You feel out of control – can storm off in a cloud of self-righteousness when things aren’t going exactly to plan.
- You feel like a victim and believe circumstances have caused you to react.
- After your reaction you might feel buffeted by the storms of life.
- People find you over-sensitive and difficult to be around.
- You find yourself often to defensive and resentful
- Rumination and anger can consume you at very short notice and with the smallest provocation.
- You have high expectation and standard from other people and from yourself.
- You can feel overwhelmed, powerlessness with little sense of control.
- You experience a significant mood swings
- You may overcome with sudden tearfulness
- You may become flooded with unwanted feelings
- say or do things that you later regret
Ideas to Become Less Reactive
Reframe your experience
This may involve reframing how you experience life. Tell yourself that you’re not the victim of circumstances, and you can choose how to respond when things don’t go your way.
Instead of blaming other people saying things like “you made me angry when you forgot to call me”, try owning your feelings and taking responsibility for them. Try saying instead: “When you didn’t call me at the time we’d agreed, I began to feel overlooked and forgotten. What I’d like you to do is text me if you can’t call at the time we talked about.” The way you communicate can radically affect how reactive you are.
Take a deep breath
Slow down your response and buy yourself a millisecond of time before you react. When you feel yourself about to explode or rage at a situation, take a deep breath – exhale longer and slower than normal and consider what’s really going on here. Is it the situation, or is it some dynamic within the situation that is pressing on an old wound?
Learn about your triggers
This may take some time to work out what’s really irking you, but it can support you to become way less reactive. Over a period of time, aim to develop a part of you that ‘observes’ what you’re thinking, feeling and doing. Instead of allowing yourself to react, notice each time you were about to react and make a note of it. When the situation has calmed, look back at your reactions and aim to understand the underlying emotion that may be triggering you. Next time you feel you’re about to react, you can recognize it for what it is: just a trigger.
Refill your energy
Feeling drained and depleted can make you more reactive than normal because you have fewer energy supplies to draw on. Build activities into your week that will replenish rather than drain you. This may involve static, calming things such as meditation or mindfulness; dynamic activities such as exercise and fitness; and creative pursuits such as writing, drawing, coloring, cooking or gardening. Or it may simply mean taking some time out to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling so you can aim to feel more grounded and in tune with yourself.
Take care of your well-being: exercise, sleep and eat well, relax, meditate and so on.
Respond; don’t react.
There’s a MAJOR difference between these two words (respond and react) philosophies. See, reactions don’t require thought. They’re knee-jerk reflexes. Responses, on the other hand, are more thought-out. They’re mindful and reflective.
So, it’s important to first recognize that you always have a choice: to either react or respond. To resist the impulse.
Here are four solid questions to ask yourself:
* Why do I feel this way?
* What kinds of things am I reactive to?
* What would be an appropriate way to respond?
* What are the emotional triggers that generate anxiety inside me that prevent me from listening well?
Best Practices for Emotional Intelligence Results
The power of utilizing emotional intelligence is that it is based on emotional and social competencies or skills which you can improve if you are motivated to embrace.
The 10 key steps to claim that new power for yourself are:
- Learn and exercise new methods – something catches your attention about a new possibility.
- Recognize the value for you – find your WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – in the long run?
- Direct your intention to toward this new potential.
- Commit to be mindful to pay attention to the steps so you will own this power.
- Assess your skills objectively – recognize your current strengths and challenges so you know what specifically you need to improve.
- Focus on one or two skills or competencies at a time. Apply gradual improvement.
- Practice…. Fine-tune and practice.
- Embrace the uncomfortable zone.
- Receive feedback from others and apply your own reflective self-awareness.
- Enjoy the process and reap the benefits!
Introduction to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, manage, and use your emotions in positive and constructive ways. It’s also about recognizing the emotional states of others and engaging them in ways that feel good to all and create mutual safety, trust, and confidence.
Emotional intelligence consists of four fundamental capabilities:
- Self-awareness – the ability to be conscious of your emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide your decisions.
- Self-management – the ability to control your emotions and behavior and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness – the ability to sense, understand and react to the emotions of others and feel comfortable socially.
- Relationship management – the ability to inspire, influence, and connect to others while managing conflict.
Emotional intelligence isn’t a safety net that protects you from life’s tragedies, frustrations, or disappointments. Emotionally-intelligent individuals go through bad times and experience sadness, anger, and fear – just like everyone else. But they respond differently than less healthy people to these experiences. Emotional intelligence gives you the ability to cope and bounce back from stress, adversity, trauma, and loss. In other words, emotional intelligence makes you resilient.
Resilience gives you the ability to:
- Stay focused in a frightening or challenging situation
- Experience moments of joy in the face of sadness and loss
- Ask for and get support when needed
- Quickly rebound from frustration and disappointment
- Remain hopeful during challenging and difficult times