Myths about emotions
Learn from your emotions, but do not necessarily let them dictate how you react. We wouldn’t let every breeze blow us in a different direction. Emotions are just information that you can choose to act on or not.
Emotions cannot order you to behave in a certain way. For example, I may be angry, but I don’t have to yell or insult others. Anger tells me there is something I feel is not fair. If I can identify what that is, I can choose how to address it. Yelling or insulting won’t help me to do that.
Have a look at the emotion myths below. Click on any that you may currently believe are true and find out what Dr. Joti Samra has to say about it.*
Emotional expression is natural, and is unrelated to will-power or how strong a person is. It takes strength to be able to express emotions effectively and appropriately.
Showing our feelings at work can be acceptable and appropriate under certain circumstances, if done respectfully e.g., when debriefing with a worker or other manager behind closed doors.
Anger is a natural emotion and not a sign of bad morals. Feeling angry is never wrong – what can be inappropriate is the way anger is outwardly expressed.
It can be very hard to control anger when we’re in the middle of it. But, there are strategies that can help us more effectively manage our anger and respectfully communicate our anger to others. It just takes practice and motivation to change.
Intense emotions can be scary because they make us feel out of control. In most cases, though, we do return to our usual, calmer selves after a while. It may take more time for some than others. Strategies like positive self-talk and deep breathing can help.
Although intense emotions can feel uncomfortable and make us feel like we are out of control, there are almost always things we can do to calm ourselves somewhat and control how we react.
Sometimes it’s important to address our feelings first before we feel ready to tackle a problem rationally. Our emotional reaction can provides useful information about the situation.
Every person is unique and has different ways of seeing situations. For example, one worker might find missing a deadline to be devastating, whereas another might shrug it off as a minor problem. All emotional experiences are valid. It is the accompanying behavioural response that can give a situation a constructive or non-constructive resolution e.g., whether the workers learn how to meet future deadlines.
Feelings give us clues about how we might want to act, so it is a good idea to listen to them when making decisions. It is also important, though, to think through possible consequences, rather than relying solely on our gut feelings.
Our environment does have a big influence on how we feel. Fortunately, as thinking beings, we can choose to interpret situations differently, and therefore have control over how we react.
We can gain some control over the types of emotions we experience through paying more attention to how to react to stressful situations and actively challenging ourselves to think about situations differently.
Rarely, if ever, do emotional reactions occur without rhyme or reason. Even though we are not always aware of the causes, there tend to be triggers (situations, people, thoughts) that lead us to react a certain way.
Emotions are complex and involve changes to our body chemistry and mental state. Expecting ourselves to be able to just switch feelings off would be unrealistic.
It is considered healthy to be able to experience a full spectrum of emotions, positive and negative. Negative emotions like sadness, anger and fear are universal and are experienced by all healthy individuals, not just negative people.