Did you know that people who often lose their temper are actually unemotional?
I was once having a conversation with a guy about a fight he had recently had with his wife. It went something like this:
“Ya know, she says this, and then I say that, and one thing leads to another and I just…I dunno, just lose it. She insults me or says something unfair and I yell, or punch a wall, and just need to leave the room.” —pause— “I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I’m just passionate, man. I take things seriously. I’m just an emotional person, ya know.”
“I actually think you’re very unemotional.” I said.
“Unemotional? I broke my finger punching a wall. No I’m very emotional.”
“Sure. But do you experience your other emotions as intensely as you do anger?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I agree your giving a form of license to this particular emotion—rage, or anger. But do you give the same license to others like joy, peace, sadness, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, encouragement, hope?
Do you give joy the same freedom as anger?
Do you give peace the same presence as rage?
Does your positive energy fill the room and lift others up, as often and to the same degree that your negativity or bad moods weigh them down?”
“Well…no. Not even close actually.” (An honest chap)
“Which is why I say you’re actually unemotional, because when it comes to being a person who feels and expresses the variety of his internal emotional world, you have a lot of emotions you’re not in touch with and feeling. You have a whole world of good stuff you’re not experiencing and letting out.
But I think you should be emotional—actually, literally emotional.
I don’t think it’s terrible that you lose your temper sometimes. But remember to lose your laughter too.
Wouldn’t that be great? Your wife goes to the counselor and says, “I have a problem. My husband is too emotional. Sometimes, he starts saying nice things, being encouraging, filling the room with positive energy, bringing such peace I could fall asleep. And then, to top it off, he laughs and won’t stop. He’s too emotional and I need help.”
My friend laughs. “True.”
“And you already know how to let an emotion have it’s way. When you’re angry, you obey it. You listen, you feel and you act on it. You’re already communicating with a particular emotion. Start communicating with your other ones. Be fully emotional.
We don’t suffer merely from the presence of emotions like anger, but from the lack of ones like joy and peace. I want you to be truly emotional, in touch with how you feel, able to let out the other half of your feelings.”
“But I know it’s not ok. I need to control my temper.”
“Sure. We often think we need to delete or rid ourselves of a negative emotion and behavior. This can be true. But what’s more true is what we’re not getting from the good emotions.
Similar to drinking too much soda and not enough water. Yes too much sugar in your system is not well. But the body of a well hydrated person can handle the sugar, process it and remove it without much negative side affect. But if you’re getting your hydration from purely coffee and soda and beer, it’s not just that your system has too much of a bad thing, but too little of a good thing—water. You could move forward by deleting sugar, yes, but putting down the soda can, and not picking up the water bottle, still leaves you unhealthy. However, not deleting soda and simply adding water, boosts your system and gives your body what it needs.
So deleting anger alone, without inviting healthy emotions to the table, more often, will not help. This is why we often don’t improve an area of our life. We’re so focused on what we think the problem is—the bad emotion—and not the solution: making time and space for all our other emotions.
It’s also easier on the soul. Trying to cut or rip something out from within us is painful and can also be demeaning. But simply opening ourselves up and inviting or creating space for something new is energizing and uplifting.”
“It’s weird too because I’ve always thought I was in-tune with how I felt.”
“Anger can trick us. It can make us feel like we’re in tune with how we feel. But emotions often have an order, and anger can cover over other emotions like loneliness, jealousy, acceptance and…sadness. Those feelings are harder to feel; not fun to sit with.
Anger is easier than sadness.
Anger is easier than rejection.
And those are actually, often the feelings we’re really feeling. They bubble up, and anger offers us a temporary way out and around that emotion.
Emotions are messengers.
Emotions ask for one thing: time.
If we listen to them, give them space, don’t rush past them, we experience whatever it is they’re wanting us to see, feel, or know. Emotions can actually heal us if we let them. They’re like little surgeons, cutting and doing internal work. Anger can be like blowing a fuse and not letting the current flow through and around us. It’s painful to sit with feelings. Anger, alcohol, drugs, work, distractions, food etc. and many more, are all the little ways we can stuff and silence and ignore and distract ourselves from feeling life on a deeper level. But we need to. Because emotions won’t go away, and our bodies will not stop communicating to us no matter how much we suppress what we feel.
So let’s redeem the word emotional.
It’s ok to be angry, or negative or sad. Nothing wrong with those emotions. But the un-health comes in being extreme, intense with a couple, and unaware and avoidant with others.
I guarantee, if you let out joy and peace to the same degree you let out anger, your wife could bare with it and the home atmosphere would be much better. She, and your kids, could forgive you because of how much good you bring and offer. But its harder when this emotion is taking so much of the stage.
So we step back and look at our emotional state.
Which ones do I express and display most often?
Which ones take the stage.
Which ones need more light shined on them?
Which ones need equal playing time?
How am I suffering not from the few negative emotions I’m experiencing, but from the lack of the goodness all the others offer?
There’s nothing wrong with being emotional. We’re all already doing it. But let’s be open to our thoughts, patient with how we’re feeling, thoroughly in-tune, and completely—literally—very emotional.”