Hypothetically speaking, if you were to draw a line representing significant events in your life from birth until now, what would it look like?
Hold that thought.
Now add in the moments when you completely lost your temper with your children, exploded with road rage, hung up on a telemarketer, and on the flip-side, let go of inhibitions and danced on a table-top after your sixth vodka.
Is your life line a little bumpier now? As up and down as a heart rate monitor?
Emotional outbursts may not be a part of our every day character but on reflection, those gutsy moments are a good and most honest display of what’s really going on inside us when our autopilot is given a shake up.
So, are your emotional outbursts the real you?
Whether you’re left with a sense of liberation or regret after an outburst depends on a multitude of factors including how highly you value freedom of expression and how painful you rate acts of confrontation.
Add to the mix whether your brain is predominantly wired as emotional or rational and this can help to explain your level of comfort with extreme emotions.
Those in the ’emotional’ camp are more likely to be comfortable with unfiltered self-expression. Those in the ‘rational’ camp prefer a sense of control and detachment from emotion.
Of course, there’s no right or wrong here, but knowing which camp you lie in can explain a lot about you, those close to you and how you relate to one another. Let’s explore both.
Team Liberation (Emotional Camp)
In an article published recently in The Michigan Daily columnist Zeinab Khalil writes of the different ways people process and express their emotions, and how this scenario can be biased by our educational background.
Khalil writes, “In dialogues, for example, although all participants may be processing their emotions in their own ways, privileged folks often set the guidelines for how to do so. By universalizing arbitrary rules on what kind of emotional expressions are and aren’t permissible, they police the emotions of everyone else in the room.
“Whitewashed phrases such as, “Can’t we have a civilized discussion?” and “I can’t speak with someone angry who isn’t even looking at me,” and “I advise we speak with more tact and decorum,” is emotional policing.
Can a person’s attempt at regulating tone and emotion be considered emotional policing? Khalil suggests so. Others however might simply see this as an attempt to stop an argument from escalating and negotiate common ground.
Enter the Rational Camp…
Team Detachment (Rational Camp)
Detachment as a way of managing intense emotions is explained in an article on health and wellness website Mind Body Green entitled 3 Ways to Detach Yourself from Negative Emotions.
Author Debby Andersen explains how detachment is commonly misunderstood, especially on an emotional level.
“Our society sees those who can remain emotionally calm and even as virtuous and steady, but many of us who appear this way are actually cut off from our emotions.”
“Our emotions are sometimes so unpredictable that it feels safer to simply turn them off. This is how so many people “detach,” and yet this is an unhealthy way of suppressing our emotions”, writes Debby.
“This kind of emotional detachment is not what spiritual disciplines are advocating. Rather, the spiritual practice of detachment requires being fully present and open to our experience of emotion. This allows us to simply observe our emotions as energy moving through our body.“
“1. Witness the sensations of the emotion in your body without judgement.
Team Detachment would advocate they experience the bumpy highs and lows just as much as Team Liberation but choose their reactions with awareness. Is this too detached? Too aware? Too controlled? Or too fake?
What camp do you lie in when it comes to emotional outbursts?