Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How passionate is too passionate?

We all want to consider ourselves cool, (if you grew up in the 80s you were cool) but is there an unwritten rule that to be cool means to be unemotional and unaffected by others?

Our quest to be cool or chill can sometimes bring us to sever our emotions and passions. We don't want to be overly emotional and take offense at every little thing that others say or do that we don't like, but at the same time we don't want to become hard hearted and be emotionally unable to connect with others.

I am a passionate person and for a long time I tried to squash my passion. I felt I was overly sensitive and thus I built up a wall to try and protect myself from feeling many emotions. The problem is you can't just cut off certain emotions. If you dampen down your feelings you disconnect the positive ones as well as the negative.

Our emotions are healthy and good and we need all of them. The so called bad or negative ones keep us safe and let us know when action is required. However, we might find there comes a time when we need to steer ourselves on an alternative route as staying on a negative road for too long can become unhealthy. Gratitude is the most powerful tool to help with this, to read more on how to do this go here .

We want to be stable and strong and secure in who we are and at the same time be able to have compassion and love towards our fellow beings. So how do we find this balance?

I found a technique that helped me be able to connect with people but not get so emotionally involved that I felt I'd lost my control: when people are negative or emotionally charged, I say to myself "Who owns the problem?" This helps me to separate myself from my emotions and create distance from my thoughts. From this point I can view the situation for what it is and check myself that I am being helpful rather than making things worse. Another person's behaviour is just an invitation to participate, I have the choice to accept or reject it. The person's behaviour comes from their perspective and when you can see it for what it is, you can now begin to have compassion.

An example of this was when my son came home from high school one day and told us he was being bullied. A normal reaction is to be fearful for our children's safety and welfare. However, I had practised this technique long enough so that I didn't become overly emotional and try to take control of the situation. I remained calm and asked him what he would like us to do. He didn't want us to go to the school (even though I wanted to), so we spoke about strategies that could help him. We practised role playing different scenarios and supported him as much as he needed. The bullying did stop and I was pleased that we had given my son the tools he needed to help him overcome this situation. (As a by-the-way, there was another time he came home and reported bullying and this time he did ask us to contact the school and intervene.) Being too emotional can cloud our judgment and inhibit our effectiveness when it comes to teaching and guiding our children.

When someone is angry and caught up in their emotions, maybe even hurling abuse at you, what can you do? Here are 3 tips to help us keep our cool and perspective:
  1. Know that its never personal: When someone says or does something that is hurtful, they are not reacting to you - they are reacting to their own thinking. They are not reacting to the reality as it is, but rather to their own perception of the situation. When you can see this at a deeper level, you can become less reactive. Instead of taking it personally, try to become curious. What makes them act like that in the first place?
  2. Know that you are always doing your best: You like everyone else, are always doing the best with the tools and knowledge you have in the moment. We all say or do things we regret later but we act with the information we have at the time. Knowing this helps us to understand that every action of unkindness is just a person reacting to what knowledge they have in that moment.
  3. Remember that anger clouds thinking: When you feel stressed or angry and upset, you lose the ability to see the moment clearly and objectively. Your perspective narrows and your negative emotions blind you momentarily. Every act that comes from a place of unkindness is coming from a mind that is struggling. Whenever we do things that hurt other people, we are suffering inside and therefore unable to act from a place of kindness. When we understand this it helps us to have compassion for others.

I have come to accept my passion and my sensitivity. It makes me who I am. I also believe I have become more calm and in control of my emotions. I rarely take offense these days as I see that as a choice that I have. Someone can't make me angry unless I allow them. So to answer my question how passionate is too passionate, I would say, if we can be passionate about life and enjoy life to the fullest without loosing control in emotional situations, then that is the perfect amount of passion.

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