- Dr. Sandra Y. Lewis
Emotion Taking Me Over
I know I’m dating myself but I can hear that Bee Gees song. How did the words go? Something like, “It’s just emotion taking me over. Caught up in sorrow. Lost in this song.” Or as some would say, you’re wallowing or drowning in emotion. There are times when our emotions seem overwhelming, out of our control.
Uncontrollable. Unmanageable. It may even seem that the more we try to control our feelings, the more intense they become. Or perhaps the more someone says, don’t be afraid or nervous or worried, the more you feel that way.
I’m reminded of a workshop I attended some years ago. The presenter talked about dreams and how they’re interpreted across cultures. She told the story of a South American culture where people are taught to face fears that show up in their dreams and to look for the gift their fears have to offer. Consider this, a child awakens and tells her parent that she was frightened because she dreamed that she was falling. The parent might respond with, “Next time, be sure to look and see where you land”. Or if the child dreamed a large, scary animal was chasing her, the parent might advise her, “Next time, stop and turn around to see what gift the animal had to offer you”.
I know. Sometimes we’d rather simply run away from something scary. It’s hard to imagine that the scary thing has anything worthwhile to offer us. But suppose your fears and worries are really signals to stop and solve a problem. Imagine them as arrows pointing you toward clues that can help you resolve an issue.
So, your worry that a client won’t like your proposal may be an invitation to review your proposal and address the points that may be of concern. Your fears about trying a new sport may be reminding you to make sure you take the necessary safety measures or purchase the equipment that will support your physical well-being.
Our emotions are our built in traffic signals. They say, “Stop. Look over here. Pay attention to this. Watch out. I’ve got something to show you. Take care of this before you move forward”. Yes, emotions are our personal security system. We’ve all probably had our car or house alarm send out a signal. Despite, the deafening sounds and the tense startle they create, we’re glad for the warning. It gives us notice that something unwanted is underway but “you’ve got time to fix it”.
So, at the same time you may be frightened, you’re called to action. So you’re focused & clear about what steps to take. There is balance and order in that moment. You’re calm in the center of the storm and you map out our actions. Stay focused. Get to safety. Call for assistance. You’re grateful for the warning and opportunity to take action.
You can use this same framework when emotions seem to be taking you over. It’s an alarm. Stand at the center of the storm where it’s calm. Focus. What’s the unwanted thing that the alarm is pointing toward? What problem do you need to resolve? Map out your plan of action. Get help if needed. Be grateful that you come with a pre-installed security system. It is a gift.