Emotions are powerful. Think of how you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic, you watch a baby being born, or your favorite team wins the game. These emotions can be very strong at times, almost overwhelming. Emotions can be our friends or our enemies. They can motivate us to climb mountains and they can drag us into the pit of despair. Emotions can motivate us to pursue relationships or leave them. What I want to talk about today is how important it is to learn to pause and reflect before acting out of emotion so we can make conscious choices.

I’ve read that when we get emotional, a different part of our brain (the right hemisphere known as the limbic system) takes over and the more logical left hemisphere stops working. Logic and emotion are two opposing forces. We’ve all heard the old adage about the head and the heart, right? Which of these do we allow to influence us in our decision-making?

A recent example of out-of-control emotions is the Baltimore riots. People expressed their long-pent-up frustrations and anger in violent and destructive ways. Emotions are contagious, especially negative emotions such as anger and hostility. Another factor is how deeply we experience our emotions.

Some people feel their emotions more strongly than others. I know, because I am one of them. I feel deeply which can be both a good and a bad thing. I have learned, however, that my emotions are something I have control over. I don’t have to allow – say allow – them to control my actions. I can take a step back and think. I had a situation recently where I had the opportunity to practice what I’m preaching here.

As you may know, I am a single lady looking for my soul mate. I recently went on a few dates with a new guy we’ll call C. We met online and corresponded a few times, then talked on the phone. I decided to give him a chance. Well, he kept trying to kiss me telling me how attracted he was to me, ya da ya da ya da. Now I appreciate the attention, but as they say, flattery will get you nowhere. So I explained to him gently that I prefer to get to know someone better before I go the physical route. I know how physical men are and that’s fine, but women are like ovens. They take a while longer to heat up. Anyway, the point of the story was, being the analytical ex-IT person I am, I was evaluating the different aspects of this person. I have to admit I was tempted to kiss the guy, but I held back. Kissing can form an intimate connection when someone feels as deeply as I do so I don’t jump into it lightly these days. After three dates, I became aware of several aspects of this gentleman that I did not think would make for a long-term match and ended the relationship. Point being, I did not allow my emotions to override my logical thinking and was able to make a conscious choice regarding whether to pursue a relationship with this person.

When we allow our strong feelings to control us, we often make decisions and choices we later regret. Emotions can cloud our judgment and cause us to make poor decisions. This applies to business situations as well as personal relationships. Our emotions can control us or we can learn to control them. The key is to recognize what is going on and stop the train before it derails. Sometimes emotions can rise up in us that have nothing to do with the situation at hand. Have you ever exploded at your kids when you got home from a frustrating day at the office? There you go.

Emotional intelligence is understanding both the source and the impact of our emotions.

1. Ask myself “What am I feeling?”
2. What is causing me to feel this way?
3. Is this what I really want to do?

The next time you feel overcome with strong emotion, take a step back. Ask yourself the above questions before taking action. What do you think of the thoughts presented here today? Love to hear your feedback so please leave a comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter @ArielPaz08.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

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