As a therapist, I am always looking for ways to help people cope with life’s challenges. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about emotions and the events that trigger them. For example, I felt angry when my youngest child argued with me about getting his seatbelt on. I felt happy when the Boise State football team won their last game and stopped their opponent from scoring and taking the lead on the last play of the game. I felt sad when I found out that one of my childhood friend’s mother passed away. And right now, I feel worried about the deadline to get this blog post done. These feelings can sometimes get a little out of control and lead to things like depression and anxiety and limit our ability to do what we want.
I have been reading a book by Susan David called Emotional Agility and it has been really rewarding and interesting. I wanted to share one intervention that I really love from the book it’s called “What the Func?” (see page 85). Here is a quick excerpt from that section: “Along with…. labeling our emotions comes the promise that once we give them a name, our feelings can provide useful information. They signal rewards and dangers. They point us in the direction of our hurt. They can tell us which situations to engage with and which to avoid. They can be beacons not barriers, helping us identify what we most care about and motivating us to make positive changes.” She then goes on and asks some questions “what the func?” or “function” “what is the purpose / function of my emotions?”
I read this section of the book several weeks ago and it sticks with me nearly every day. Especially when some unwanted emotion sneaks into my life. So, the next time you get in an argument with your spouse, get yelled at by your boss, fail a test, or forget to pay a bill stop and ask yourself what is the purpose of this rage, fear, sadness, or shame that I’m feeling. Maybe you really, really love your spouse and feel really hurt that they are disappointed in you. Maybe you pride yourself in being a great employee and that rage you feel when your boss criticized you is telling you to admit that you made a mistake and try harder. Maybe that sadness you feel when you mourn with a friend is telling you that relationships are super meaningful and that you enjoy being connected to others even when it’s a funeral that brings an old friend back into your life. When we learn to treat our emotions as information and not unwanted creatures determined to destroy our moods, kill joy, and create chaos in our lives, we allow room for compassion and understanding to heal our pain.
Thanks for reading. Good luck coping with your emotions. Vic
Victor Myers is a Counselor licensed in the state of Idaho. He enjoys helping teens and adults who are struggling with life transitions, social anxiety, depression, relationships and managing stress. For more information on scheduling an appointment with him or one of the other counselors at Access Living please call 208-922-2207 or fill out our contact form.
About Victor Myers
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