Knowing when you are lost
We all get lost in our emotions from time to time. To say that you have ‘lost your temper’ is a great description as you have lost your true self, temporarily, to the emotion of anger. We can get lost in a range of different emotions from anger to sadness to fear. Knowing that you are lost and understanding why you are lost can help you to get yourself back on track more quickly. Here are a few steps you can take to assist you.
Be aware and notice when you are ‘lost’ in an emotion. Are you able to think clearly and rationally? Are you doing or saying things that you wouldn’t normally do or say if you were more in control of how you were feeling? Are the people around you getting upset or agitated because of your behavior?
It isn’t easy to stop yourself from getting lost in an emotion once you have been triggered, but if you recognise the early warning signs and you are able to, try your best to stop what you are saying and doing. If you are with others give yourself some space perhaps by explaining that you are lost in an emotion or that you can’t think clearly at the moment. Here are some examples of the types of things you could say to give your self some space from the person/event that has triggered you so you can focus more on how you feel. It will be much harder to understand or dissect your emotion if you are still acting out of it. Be careful that the words you use to excuse yourself are not being said to purposefully inflame the situation or upset others as this will only escalate the situation.
- You have made some valid points, leave it with me and I will get back to you
- That’s too much to take in right now, I’ll have a think and come back to you
- I’m sorry I’m feeling really triggered right now please can you give me a minute or two to calm down and we can chat about this later
- I’m a bit lost in an emotion at the moment and I know I’m not thinking clearly, I don’t want to say something I know I don’t really mean
- I hear what you are saying but I just need some time to think it through
- Let’s come back to this discussion later, I’ve just realised the time and I need to be somewhere else
- You probably think I’m overreacting but I tend to react quite strongly to feeling like this just let me take a second to collect myself
- I’m really upset right now let’s do this later
- I’m sorry I upset you lets both take a second to calm down before we discuss this further
- I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed I just need some time to think through what you have said/done
- I’m not coming from a good place right now and I can’t think clearly, please could you give me a moment to collect my thoughts
- Let’s not do this now I’m feeling a bit sensitive about things at the moment
Be aware that others may be lost in their own emotions and they may not have to tools to deal with them or even understand that their behaviour is being governed by them in this moment. Don’t use that information as a way to score points. Simply remind yourself that they may need some time to calm down too. Remember you may not be talking to the person right now but their emotion, which is likely to be less rational, fair or clear thinking. This means that they too may say or do things that they don’t really mean.
Examine your emotion, what triggered you and how it made you feel. You may be able to identify your emotion and dissect it in the moment or perhaps come back to it later when you are not feeling overwhelmed.
Write it down
Keep a note of your feelings and emotions. You could write a diary, or catalogue your emotions on a spreadsheet, whatever works best for you. It is good to keep a record of what you are experiencing so you can go back through it at a later date. This can help you to identify patterns in your behaviour, your beliefs, feelings and emotions and lessons that your emotions may share with you. It is also a great way to measure how far you have come. If you have had a bad day you can look back and see how much more you understand about yourself, your behaviour and your emotional responses.
Don’t judge yourself or others for becoming overwhelmed or lost in an emotion
The calm after the storm
Take some time to write down what happened, what you think triggered you and what your emotional response was. It may be helpful to go back over your emotion and find out more about it, why it was triggered, what it believed, what feelings were tied up with it and label it so that it is easier to recognise next time it comes up.
Even when you know your own emotions well (and they are all labelled) it is still possible to get overwhelmed by a big emotion. Becoming overwhelmed in an emotion is absolutely fine and perfectly normal. The process of t-coaching is not to prevent you from feeling emotions it is to help you to understand them better, so that you act out of them less and feel more in control of yourself and your behaviours. Over time you will find that you get lost less and less.
You should expect to have the same emotional response coming up repetitively, some more frequently than others. This is why labelling your emotions works well because it is quicker and easier to deal with an emotion when you already know why it has been triggered, what it makes you feel and what it believes to be true. It is good practice to go through the process of examining your emotion until you feel that there is nothing left to discover and the emotion has been fully understood.
Environmental issues may also have an impact on how well you can manage your emotions, if you are feeling stressed, if you are feeling unwell or more anxious than usual this could amplify your response to an emotion, even one that you have dealt with many times before. Remember sometimes what you are feeling as anxiety, stress or mild depression is actually an emotion that needs to be further examined.
How to tell if an emotion is understood
If you are unable to let the emotion go, or you feel you are still speaking or acting out of it then that could be a sign that either you need to do more work with this emotion in order to fully understand it, or it may be a similar but different emotion that needs to be addressed as well.
Everyone’s emotions are unique to them. However, there are some emotions that we all tend to share. Although the feelings that they promote, the beliefs that drive them and the complexities of how they originated and are perpetuated will be individual to you, it may help to have a basic understanding of how they work. This is not an exhaustive list just a starting point to assist you in recognising different types of emotions.
Keep a diary of your progress. You could write in a notebook or keep a digital record on your computer or on your phone. You may not record much as the beginning however once you get going you will find that you have a great deal of information about yourself. Make sure you write down any lessons or realisations that you have about yourself.
Take a break
Be sure to take a break from the process if you feel that it is getting too much for you. Remember this is your own journey and you are doing this for you. If you are doing it for someone else or another purpose then you are not approaching it in a healthy way. You can come back to it anytime you like.