People who are controlled by their emotions usually have something in common: they tend to do only what feels most comfortable.
In other words, your emotions are organized into “feeling good” and “feeling bad,” not “feeling good” or “doing well.”
Processing the trauma does not feel good, but it does it well. Procrastinating feels good but does not do it well. The same logic applies to so many things: eating a healthy lunch, going to the gym to exercise, or calling your mother.
If you allow feelings to control your actions, you will never progress in life. You will wonder why the same patterns, habits and unhealthy relationships continue to circulate.
This is because he has not learned how to organize or process how he feels in relation to what we should do and how we should think.
By organizing your feelings, you are placing them in a context. You are discovering where they are coming from, whether they serve you or not, and what they are trying to tell you.
You can be aware of your feelings, but just noticing them will not help you navigate your life. To do that, you have to be able to recognize them, and then place them, and then, often, use them to your advantage.
Here is how you can start:
1. Make a list of bullet points of your feelings.
If you need it, get up in the morning and write a list of notes that describe the various feelings and thoughts you have.
It is fine if some are contradictory. Your list may look like this: “I feel really exhausted and tired today, and I do not feel like going to work.” Then: “I am excited to complete that abandoned project, and for my next weekend trip, I want to finish my work before then.”
2. Structure your day to honor your different needs.
Instead of trying to push the project, if you know that you feel exhausted, perhaps commit to working on it for a few hours and then leave early to take some time.
People generally live by an unrealistic “all or nothing” mindset. If they feel burned, they need a vacation. If they feel inspired, they need to spend the next 12 hours without rest.
Neither is it a sustainable solution.
3. Make a “worry” list.
Make a continuous list of things to worry about on a laptop or somewhere private from your personal computer.
Write down anything and everything that arises in your day that is bothering you. Make a special note if it is something that keeps appearing in your mind.
Choose a good time to sit down and review the list. When you do it, you will realize that most of it were nonsense. However, there will be some points there that require your attention.
Instead of ruminating, make an action plan to address or resolve what bothers you. In the end, you will gain confidence in addressing what weighs you down and in realizing how unimportant and irrelevant your concerns are.
By writing down your feelings and identifying how and where they come from. Confirm if they serve you and what you can do about it, you are teaching yourself what is often called “the wisdom to know the difference” between what you can control and what you cannot control.
However, all this can only be as effective unless you are also clear about your long-term goals.
Identifying long-term goals is an essential part of organizing your emotions because without understanding what you want in the long term, you will not know what it is worth to suffer.
You will not be able to identify what is an uncomfortable feeling that you do well compared to an uncomfortable feeling that just does not feel right.
When people ask themselves if they are succeeding or not in life, they tend to reach other people’s measures to qualify them.
By comparison, they deduce whether they are doing well or not, which essentially makes their success determined by other people. Needless to say, this does not bring fulfillment.
Instead, it really makes clear what you want for your life. The objectives must be social, financial, professional and personal.
If you are acting according to your immediate wishes, you will be happy until you realize that you are not satisfied.
If you act according to your long-term goals, you may feel less comfortable, but it will be worth it. Life is a game of pinpointing what is worth suffering for.
After organizing your feelings, much of the real change in your life will happen because you are integrating the feeling with the action.
You are using your feelings to create a change in your life, or, on the other hand, you are using important and valuable goals to help you persevere through things that are uncomfortable.
In that process, you get to understand that discomfort is not the enemy.
Organizing your feelings is similar to what patients learn in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), although most people do not seek that type of treatment until their symptoms are unmanageable or are extreme enough to justify the help.
It’s a shame because many of the principles can help people before they reach that point. Here is the basis for it:
• Identify the problems in your life.
The first step is to recognize what is wrong and what is bothering you so deeply. Without this, you can not move forward.
• Become conscious of the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that surround these problems.
Patients learn how their thoughts and feelings surrounding problems are creating problems through false associations or assumptions, or at least preventing them from taking constructive action on them.
• Identify the wrong thinking.
Negative thoughts often do not reflect reality. They are false or exaggerated ideas about what is happening, inflated by your emotions.
• Correct incorrect thought patterns.
By creating new patterns and lines of thought, you can change your life by first changing how you see and interpret it.
This is, of course, a very simplified version of what happens in CBT, but the point is that, ultimately, it helps you organize your feelings, identify your sources and correct or use those impulses to your advantage.
People who thrive in life are not controlled by their feelings, but neither suppress nor ignore them. Our emotions are a signaling system designed to communicate what we really need and want.
We are not better for not being able to listen to them, but at the same time, we will be as stagnant if we allow them to control everything without analysis or intervention.