Once I took my nephew for an injection- baby vaccination. I was supposed to hold him down while the jab went in. Done in a second and when I lifted him up, his yells seemed to be shaking the floor. We immediately took out the phone and showed him a video to distract him from the emotion of pain.
How many of you are doing that to yourself? Every time there is an uncomfortable emotion what do you do? Reach out for that smarts phone and start scrolling through, text someone, call, jump into work, sleep it off, Netflix it or just shop! Whatever you’re doing it is a coping technique.
I used to be the one escaping from uncomfortable emotions. Experiencing low emotions was too much. It would take up space from my work life, it would keep my goals on pause and derail me from my routine. Looking back the things I did to escape the emotion were also keeping me derailed.
All this escaping is a form of pushing aside but it doesn’t go away if you’re not looking. Evading an emotion is only delaying the processing and you’re only suppressing it for now. Emotional suppression can lead to psychosomatic diseases. It’s more stressful when you bottle up your emotions than when you’ve let them out.
Learning from my mistake I tried to let myself feel and express myself. I let my emotions spill out, go all over, and not hold back. It went to another extreme— I would replay the incident over and over in my head, feel it repeatedly-emotional indulgence, I would vent and play the victim- emotional dumping and pouring my heart out to strangers- over-sharing.
Then people who see you also form a perception. Once I was told ‘You’re too emotional but that’s you.’ I introspected though it was their personal bias. My understanding of emotions was more evolved. Emotions are like people. You can acknowledge their existence, gauge their characteristics and where they come from (which trigger) and what they want. Emotions just need the acknowledgement. Okay! Allow it but softly. Let them come into your space, observe what they feel like but let the force of the emotion be light. Remember you give the emotion power, so you can also take it away.
In boxing, you cannot go unscathed, you will get punched and sometimes really hard. Escaping is not an option. Triggers will come from outside but the expression of the emotion starts within your control. Most of us don’t have that control yet because we were never taught. The trigger and reaction are too fast because we lack awareness. Awareness helps to prolong the gap between trigger and reaction.
The reaction time is everything for a boxer, the slower you are the more hits you get. You need to see the punches coming and react before they hit you. If you are throwing the punch then you need to be quicker than the opponent’s reaction time. To be able to see between this time-space requires another level of alertness and awareness.
When I get hit a few times my focus goes like a needle of a broken speedometer. My mind switches to panic mode. My coach shouts in the background- “Get in, punch back”.
In life when external triggers come punching us down, we could take the hit but stay calm. Let it exist, you choose to focus on your choice of reaction instead of focusing on the trigger. Inside rather than outside. Even if you’ve taken a punch- focus on your counterpunches and how you will react.
There is no quick fix to get this. Learning anything is tough initially. Meditation is a way to become alert and aware. In real-time, the speed remains the same your mind gets faster at seeing the trigger and your speed of choosing the reaction is faster. This comes when we are focusing on one thing at a time. In meditation, we eliminate everything and focus on one thing. While our phones have primed us to dilute our focus on 10 things at a time, aka distraction.
I can still hear the loud booming voice of the paediatrician in my head, from when we distracted my nephew with a video to escape injection pain. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” -It’s a good mental reminder to not distract myself.
A Great Article for Emotional Regulation Tips : https://www.self.com/story/emotional-regulation-skills