I often say that we learn emotional tools from the best, and the best are our parents. As children we are given tools, and sometimes they are healthy and sometimes they are not.
We learn through our personal experiences, stories we have heard and how our behaviours are dealt with and/or received. There is no reason to pass blame or judgement; it just is what it is. The tools we use and have used up until this point have worked for us. Often screaming or shouting gets us what we want, or gets people to back off when we need them to.
Emotional Tools and Strategies
Usually at some point, the strategies we learn for dealing with anger in our younger years stop working. In other words, they work, until they don’t work anymore. When you’re angry as a child you may throw a temper-tantrum. But when your boss gives you a Monday morning deadline at 4pm on a Friday, a temper-tantrum is not a useful tool. So at some point in life we begin to look for new strategies. We look for strategies that will give us the responses from others that we desire. It’s usually not as simple as, “Mom won’t let me stay up late tonight”. Maybe a spouse or significant other has an issue with the tone of voice that is being used in a discussion, or maybe feelings that once felt good to us, don’t feel good anymore.
If your emotional tools are not working for you anymore it is important to sit down and ask yourself why?
- What behaviours are you using?
- What responses are you getting?
- What responses do you want?
What do you have to do to start getting those responses?
This can be a simple exercise to undertake on your own, but may be even more effective if you talk it through with someone else. You can think back to an occasion in your childhood when you remember being really angry: what did you do and what was the outcome? Now think about a more recent occasion. Did you behave in the same way? What was the outcome? When you are not in the heat of the moment it is easier to analyse the way you reacted. Now imagine yourself in the same situation again: what could you have done differently?
There are lots of tools available to deal effectively with strong emotional reactions and with unwanted behaviours. I look forward to sharing many more of them with you.