Do you find yourself at the mercy of your emotions, a victim of reaction, behaving in ways that you’re not proud of and often regret? Are you one of the millions of people who avoid conflict and confrontation because you don’t know how to deal with other people’s emotions? Perhaps you avoid emotions entirely, not allowing yourself to feel deeply – out of fear or simply because you never learned how to experience, enjoy, and manage deep emotions such as love, joy, sadness, or happiness.

Perhaps you have become numb to emotions, not recognizing what or that you’re feeling something. Without the skills to handle them, you might “stuff” your emotions, exploding at some later time when you reach your breaking point. Then there are those who were taught not to feel, who grew up learning that feelings were bad and you shouldn’t have them at all. And when you do feel something, you cannot let anyone know about it.

Well, you’re not alone. Everyone has emotions and many people have no idea what to do with their emotions when they experience them. So, welcome to the Club. Learning more about emotions, understanding what happens to you when you become emotional; learning to control yourself and your responses to emotions are your personal responsibility as an adult – regardless of what you may have learned or witnessed as a child – and they a big part of living a successful life. Success cannot only be defined by what you do or what you have; it’s defined in your heart by how you feel about how you are living your life, the things you do, and the impact you make on others including how you make other people feel. Emotions are what make life grand. Emotions bring life to living.

What does it mean to be intelligent about your emotions? It means being able to recognize and manage your emotions as well as control your behavior in response to emotion. It also means you are aware of the emotions of others and are able to manage relationships using empathy and competence. This is the practice of becoming emotionally confident and it takes time, vigilance, and practice in order to enjoy your emotions and respond to them appropriately as well as becoming more adept at handling the emotions of others and dealing with conflict. Obviously, the better you are at knowing and managing yourself and your emotions, the better you become at dealing with other people’s emotions. The first step in learning about emotions is to become more conscious to what you are feeling in any given moment.

At the most basic level, emotions are messengers that bring your attention to something. If something feels good, then you will continue to do it. You will continue to behave in this way because of the way it makes you feel. If something feels bad, then you (hopefully) won’t continue to do it. It is human nature to move away from pain and toward pleasure.

[Strangely, this isn’t always the case. Often you will repeatedly do things that bring you pain, as in the case of addictions, bad relationships, and job dissatisfaction. Why do you perpetuate your own unhappiness? Perhaps the pattern of behavior is habit or you are “addicted” to the pain; it’s what you are used to, therefore, you continue to do what is familiar. Perhaps you simply don’t know any other way to react or respond. A coach can help.]

Emotions help you to gauge what is right for you and what isn’t quite right. This isn’t about right and wrong but rather what feels good versus what doesn’t feel good. We often hear of emotions as positive and good or negative and bad but emotions just are; there is no good or bad, right or wrong. There is no judgment to emotions. You may not like how certain emotions feel but that is about you, not the message. If you don’t like how it makes you feel then that is why developing your intelligence about emotions is necessary for creating your happiness.

When something feels bad, it signifies that you need to respond in some way. Something about the situation or person requires your attention. What is it? What is the emotion that you feel? Are you angry or frustrated? Are you disappointed or hurt? First, identify what emotion you are feeling. Second, ask yourself some questions about what the message means to you. And third, make choices about how to respond in order to bring about the outcome you desire.

Do you need to speak up for yourself? Do you need to take a break: Are you hungry or tired? Are you unhappy and need to take action to make a change in your life? Are there things you have left unspoken for so long that now you have big conflict that you need to unravel?

When you learn to treat your emotions as messengers, you realize that any highs or lows can be troublesome. The part of the brain that operates when you are emotional is different than the area that allows for processing and mental reasoning. This means that when you are emotional, you cannot think or problem-solve. It’s as if a wall has come down and you are behind it. The same is true for other people when they become emotional. Any conversation you have it’s as if you are speaking with the emotion rather than the person. This rarely works well. Although anger is a common emotion in conflict, other emotions have the same effect. If you are excited, for example, it still creates a wall behind which your reasoning cannot break through. You must deal with the emotion and kick start the frontal lobe so you can think clearly again.

Dealing with your emotions by recognizing your emotions when they occur, understanding the message they bring you, and then choosing to act in a way that best suits you, puts you in control and helps you to self-manage. Using emotions as a form of intelligence is very powerful and attractive. People who demonstrate emotional intelligence have a commanding presence and are self-assured. They feel good to be around because they are unafraid, not intimidated (or intimidating), and able to handle all sorts of challenging situations. They are true leaders. Mastering your emotions, although considered “soft” leadership skills, will bring you the hard results you seek.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN, CSAC is dedicated to helping you break through the barriers to your happiness and success. She is a masterful coach, a motivational speaker and world-renowned writer and author. For additional resources and to sign up for her inspiring e-newsletter, visit www.NurturingYourSuccess.com or email Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com.