GAINING EMOTIONAL STABILITY
We are blessed with an ability to express emotions like sorrow, anger, frustration, love whatever in a more articulate manner as compared to other living organisms. Expressing our emotions make us more human. Deliberately trying to contain our emotions and bottling up brings about several psychological problems. We need to express our emotions freely so far as it doesn’t hurt anyone. We must acknowledge the feelings of others. A lady once told in anger to her husband “my mother is a reputed professor and not like the pheasant mom you have”. She was emotionally very much attached to her own mother and even a slight disrespect from anyone was unbearable to her. But while uttering these words about her mother-in-law she was oblivious about the hurt she was inflicting on her husband, who equally is having emotions.
In a civilized society, we learn to contain some negative feelings like anger. Emotions play a pivotal role in conducting our social relations with family and friends and in communicating with them. Our emotions such as love, anger, guilt, disappointment, shame, embarrassment, and pride are all part of our daily life. But there is a healthy way to express.
Unless we understand our own feelings exactly and acknowledge our emotional self, we cannot get along smoothly with anyone. This is a fact that we all acknowledge and yet we fail to regulate or channelize our emotions. We need some tools for this.
If we face explosive situations and tend to explode into sudden outbursts, we are expressing our emotions, but in an excessive manner. Suppose we are angry towards a child for not scoring well in exams and we never express our anger. Then someday on another occasion on a very trivial matter, which we would have ignored easily, we would just explode and erupt like a volcano gushing out words we never dreamt to say anytime. Instead, had we released our feelings on day one in a more appropriate manner in a healthy way, the situation would have been different. Withholding our emotions can build up strains and increase our blood pressure. It would be an invitation for stress, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia. Suppressing our emotions and keeping it bottled is dangerous and disastrous. It is therefore essential for us to check how we respond to our feelings. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, the entire range of mental illnesses is a direct result of conflicting or amplified emotions striking life like a thunderstorm.
The psychological studies suggest a number of ways to contain our emotions, transform and channelize and control to avoid the disasters. Things like diverting attention to some other activities such as music, writing, photography, painting, film-making, dancing, physical activity or talking to a friend etc are helpful. In this article, we are concentrating on one method of understanding ourselves, our own emotions and trying to measure it in a constructive way. That is writing down how we feel and creating a journal to keep close to your chest. After all, history is full of veterans who wrote outstanding journals.
Anne Frank was a German-born Jew. One of the victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously with the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl in which she documents her life in hiding in the Netherlands during World War II. The diary gives vivid accounts of bloodshed and torture and is widely read even today.
Let us hear how she devoted time to ask herself how she felt everyday “I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.” The cruelties meted out to the Jews were beyond toleration and Anne was totally helpless. She could give vent to her emotions only by scribbling “I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” Mina Murray says this in her journal in Dracula.
Jotting down our emotional responses to what is happening around us, can make a tremendous impact on our lives. This will help us to take a relook at our behavior and how we take these incidents to heart. Journals will focus on our emotional life and reveal the truth as to how it impacts our life. Journaling is a significant and extremely powerful tool for change, worth the effort, especially when we wish a transformation. That is why Pat Conroy says “Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.” Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.
Virginia Woolf is among the world’s most favorite authors. She actually kept five volumes of the secret stories of her private life hidden in her heart, which was virtually dynamite in itself. Narrating and exposing our experiences are sometimes great relief. That’s why Anne Lister says” I tell myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved.”
Before you go to bed just recollect-What happened today what has been upsetting. Jot down your joyous moments which tickled your mind’s aspirations. Has anyone criticized or embarrassed you? Has anyone hurt you deeply? What made you upset? Do you hate someone? Whom do you crave to talk to and love? Record and empty all those feelings. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart,” says William Wordsworth.
How it helps
It is advantageous to dwell upon self, interpret memories- The wrath of sorrowful episodes, loss of lives, separation of friends, losing the luster of achievements, excitements in social circles, rolls on the beach, loss, and gain of glories.etc. Life is a clay pot full of mixed porridge capable of raising a thousand shades of feelings. Writing them all down helps to sort out, identify and understand you better. It can make you more matured and balanced.
Recapitulate the notes you made and devote time to contemplate and analyze. Examine the appropriateness of your feeling at the time of its occurrences. It should make a big difference when you are truly connected to your inner self and personality. Examine the emotional being and the stuff of which you are made of and judge yourself. See whether your rational thinking suggests any change in your future approach to situations? Remember what Rachel Schade said, “The pages afforded glimpses into my soul where I’d hidden it, behind masks of paper and ink.”
There could be many scattered thoughts.”There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write” said William Thackeray.
The journal will become a testimony of the painful circumstances through which your mind passed, the unbearable experiences, infatuations, sorrows, situations which on a later day send shivers through your body. But remember, you lived through those moments, with forbearance and patience. You were in a position to turn back the pages and correct your feelings, cut down the excesses and grow wiser. We are capable to look back upon our jittery moments and mould a stronger mind and a sturdy soul. Ponder and digest your emotions at a unique and personal level and correct through introspection.
We may not be in a position to explain why we felt in a peculiar way in specific circumstances. It is always better to leave them as it is. Nonetheless, our most emotions reveal a special reckoning and awareness about ourselves and indicate our true state of mind. Journals are valuable tools for the safe handling of our emotional life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jose Vazhuthanapilly, Bsc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 20 books to his credit including books on self-help/psychology. He resides in Ernakulum, Kochi. He is active also in the social service. He can be contacted at Josevazhuthanapilly@gmail.com
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