Riding the emotional storms
Have you ever felt completely lost in a turbulent storm of thoughts and feelings? Like if your mind has been taken over and you are no longer in control?
If you are like me, you know how difficult it is to calm the storm when it happens. It takes an immense awareness to recognise what is happening, not to get caught in this storm, where feelings feed thoughts which feed feelings and so on....and even then, with a great awareness, it can still feel so overwhelming, that it is too hard to stop negative looping. Negative looping occurs when a negative thought feeds a negative feeling, which then feeds another negative thought and a feeling and so on.
I believe that these emotional storms in a way is a natural part of life, that we all have them inside us, regardless of wheather we let them loose or if we supress them. However, the storms can be devastating in your relationship if you let them ride you to the edge of rage, despair or acting out.
Feeling your feelings is not the same as acting on your feelings. Its a big difference between responding to a feeling, and reacting to a feeling. When you respond, you have awareness. This can bring you and your partner closer. When you react, you will get caught in the trance of negative looping. This is likely to bring you and your partner further apart. In a reactive state, its often impossible to see the other side of the coin. In a reactive state, we are more likely to judge, blame or trying to control our partner. In a reactive state, we are not open to receive and connect with our inner love, or the love we have for our spouse.
To respond to a feeling, means acknowledging its existence without acting on it. You can respond to your emotions, and even tell your partner about them, without being reactive. To learn this skill is a crucial part of relationship training.
General health is also affecting the emotional state we are in. Lack of sleep, colds and hunger can be seen as minor things, but they do indeed affect your mood. So if you are starting to feel angry or frustrated, or if you are feeling down in some way, first check in with yourself. Have you slept enough? Did you eat properly? are you generally healthy?
Another thing worth mentioning, when it comes to intense emotions, is the difference between men and women in terms of hormones. Women are often referred to as "too emotional" or "hormonal", in a very negative sense. And yes, there is some truth in this: the cycle of hormones that regulates the female body can sometimes get out of balance, causing more emotional storms than it otherwise would have. These hormonal up and downs are very different from what a man, with his relatively stable hormone status, will experience.
A man with low testosterone will come out as a little depressed most of the time, lacking sexual interest and be generally moody. This is of course not so pleasant, neither for him or his spouse. But, at least its predictable. Sometimes we just shrug our shoulders and say "well, thats just the way he is". A woman with low oestradiol and/or progesterone on the other hand, will be very up and down during the menstrual cycle. She might be feeling terrific one day and totally under the ice the next. The inpredictability in this case, is what is endangering the relationship.
Be kind to yourself. If you know outer things such as health, hormones, sleep etc are affecting your mood, be gentle and take extra good care of yourself. Be honest with your partner, that you are not feeling great at the moment BUT BE CLEAR THAT IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT. Do not fall into the blaming trap just because you are not feeling great. Fix yourself first, before you try to fix others. Taking good care of yourself, is one way of loving yourself, and how can you possibly have healthy love for another, if you cannot give yourself at least a little bit of love?
So, if you experience emotional drama in your relationship, ask yourself:
- Have I gained emotional awareness or is there still yet something to work on? Am I responding or reacting to my own and my partners feelings?
- What is my hormonal state? What is my general health?
- Have I taken good enough care of myself, to be able to give love to another?
All to often, we look to our partners to make us happy, and especially women do this. But it is not our partners responsibility to make us happy. Only YOU are responsible for your own happiness, even if your partner of course can be part of your success in a happy life.
And one piece in this responsibility is owning our emotions. If you just want to do one thing to improve your relationship, do this: When you experience emotional intensity - remember to respond instead of react.