Would you describe yourself as an overly emotional or a highly sensitive person? If you lead with your emotions, you’re not alone. Approximately 1 in 5 people can be described this way. It’s very easy to get caught up in your emotions and throw logic out the window. Emotions can sometimes cloud your ability to think clearly and logically. Below I am going to share a real-life argument that happened between a couple, “Kelly & Mike” to break it down.
“Kelly” and “Mike” recently rented an apartment together. Shortly after moving into their new place, Kelly decided to make dinner for Mike. She spent hours buying ingredients and preparing the meal -- she was very excited to surprise him. When it was time for dinner, to her own surprise Mike said “Wow, you didn’t know that I don’t eat pork or cold salads?.” Kelly immediately became upset with Mike for rejecting the meal. Emotions ran through her -- how did she not know Mike did not eat “cold salads”? What was wrong with the meal? Why was he so unappreciative? How could he say he doesn’t like pork, when he eats bacon?! Once emotion took over there wasn't much Mike could say to prevent an argument. Kelly became irritable, defensive and walked out of the kitchen.
Mike could not understand how Kelly went from being happy to angry in such a short time. While he appreciated the time Kelly put into preparing a nice meal, he simply just did not eat cold pasta salad or pork chops. He wished Kelly would not have overreacted and enjoyed the evening. Instead, the night had been ruined.
Did you relate to Kelly’s overly emotional and sensitive reaction? If so...
Here are some ways to be a little less emotional!
Take a step back: Pay attention to the way you feel. In order to “forget your feelings” you need to acknowledge them first. Think about what triggered your reaction. For example, Kelly’s negative emotions were triggered because she believed dinner was a failure and Mike was let down. If Kelly put her emotions aside, she'd be able to see that Mike was just happy to spend time with her. To put it simply, Kelly’s emotions triggered her reaction, not Mike’s behavior. Sometimes you need to take yourself out of the situation and interpret it without your emotion.
Communication: Practice communicating your feelings using “I” statements. Kelly became angry with Mike before communicating her concerns with him. She could have said calmly “I feel like a failure because you don’t like this meal.” “I wish I knew you didn't eat this stuff because it took me hours to prepare it.” Communicating her feelings would have been more productive than internalizing them and then exploding with anger.
Perspective: Stop dwelling. Kelly needs to accept that the meal was not a hit and move on. In the grand scheme of things, a “failed” meal is not that big of a deal. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to change the outcome of a situation. Everybody feels emotional and sensitive from time to time, allow yourself to experience those feelings, then let them go without a second thought.
Focus on the Positive: Once you have processed negative emotions, start thinking about the positive. Kelly should consider her motivation for cooking Mike a meal was to spend time together -- their time did not have to be compromised.
Get some criticism: Allow yourself to be criticized by others. Ask people “what they think?” and work on not taking everything to heart. The more criticism you receive the easier it will be to accept it.
Just to clarify, being less emotional does not mean becoming emotion-less. Emotions are healthy, but they need to be balanced. You may want to consider finding a Wake Forest Counselor if your emotions are out of control, getting in the way of your relationships and ability to think logically. As for “Kelly & Mike,” they are still together and working to make their relationship stronger. Kelly never cooks pasta salad or pork chops for Mike 😊 HA! And BTW he still eats bacon!