Using Emotions As Tools

Very often people query me as to whether or not anger is a bad emotion to which I reply “No.” All emotions have purpose and value. None are good or bad. They simply are. It is how we utilize them, our actions, that determines their positive or negative value. Emotions are messengers that help us better understand ourselves based on how we react to certain stimuli, whether it be a comment or a circumstance. At the root of all anger are three unique feelings: hurt, fear, and frustration. Each one sheds light on what is important to us as well as what internal issues are in need of healing,
If I am hurt by what someone has said to me, I need to ask myself “Why?” Why did I take personal offense to their comments? Do I need to strengthen my self-esteem so I am able to listen to other’s comments objectively? If I am frustrated, what in my life am I seeking to control? Frustration results from the need to have things a certain way. How will my life be impacted should this incident transpire in a way contrary to what I prefer? Fear, worry, or anxiety alerts me to the fact that I lack confidence in myself. What can possibly happen in my life than I cannot handle? Being capable does not mean that I don’t care what happens. We’d all like to avoid unpleasant situations from occurring. But my self-confidence assures me that I am fully capable of handling whatever enters my life and finding a way to use it to my advantage.

Additionally, when I am angry (i.e. hurt, afraid, or frustrated) I can use this knowledge to more accurately express to the other party how I feel. Rather than state, “I’m angry at you for not inviting me to your party!” (which puts the other person on the defensive), I can say, “I’m hurt that I wasn’t invited.” Rather than fly into a rage when my computer isn’t working properly, I recognize my frustration because there is much I need to accomplish today. I can shift my focus on seeking some possible solutions to either getting my computer fixed or completing my work using another modality.

Knowing that our feelings have purpose, we can use them as tools for understanding others as well. If I’m dealing with an angry person, I need not address their ire but rather inquire as to whether they have been hurt or offended by something I said, if they are worried (fear) about something, or perhaps they are stressed (frustration). In that way, I can assist them in dealing with the root cause and hopefully finding some possible solutions to their issues.

In summary, emotions – all feelings – are valuable tools. We can learn much about ourselves and our issues, as well as what truly matters to us. Internal issues can now be addressed and resolved more easily. By identifying our feelings we are also able to more clearly express ourselves, thus improving our communication and conflict resolution skills. And, when dealing with another person’s upset, we are now better equipped to understand and assist them as well.

Never deny or suppress your emotions. They are valuable tools that appear for a specific reason. Spend time with them, appreciate each feeling, seek a deeper understanding as to why they appeared, address whatever issues they reveal, and use them for the good of all involved. In that way, they can be one of our greatest allies rather than a destructive force in our lives.

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