It is not always easy to know what to do with your emotions. Sometimes the confusion is when you first feel the emotion or the confusion can happen after the emotion has been expressed and you wonder if you have done the right thing.
Circumstantial depression and low self-esteem
Sometimes circumstantial depression can numb you to your true feelings. Not feeling is a coping mechanism. Not feeling is a way to withdraw and not deal with the problems and situations in your life. However, the price you pay is high since you are left feeling emotionally confused and your naturally healthy self-esteem is slowly eroded.
For some, low self-esteem itself can cause emotional confusion. Simply, you don't have the confidence to stand by your feelings. You second guess yourself, your avoid asserting your feelings, and you feel uncomfortable just being around others.
There are many reason for low self-esteem. Sometimes exploring the source for low self-esteem is helpful while sometimes just building self-esteem is enough.
The golden rule about emotions
Instead of rushing into a decision, take some time and analyze your situation in order to determine if it is proper to express and act upon your emotions. The heart and the mind are complimentary partners in that they allow a person to be fully human and experience life to the fullest. However, the mind is the gatekeeper, deciding if and when an "emotion" should be expressed.
To use an analogy: Your emotions are like the engine of a car. The engine generates the energy needed to propel the vehicle to it destination. The mind is like the driver. The driver determines what is a reasonable destination. Both the driver and the engine work together to make automobile travel safe and useful.
The same is true with your mind and emotions. The mind must determine if and how emotions are to be expressed. And your emotions are the energy to fuel your body parts to carry out your will.
The following five questions are a small sample of the kinds of emotional confusion many people experience. Lets take a look:
1) If someone angers you, should you express that anger and tell the person how you feel?
Anger is a very destructive emotion. It hurts both the person who is expressing it and the person it is directed towards. What's more, anger can snowball and eventually spread until it is out-of-control. Many people have lost their families, jobs and even freedom (they are put in jail) because of anger.
2) Should anger ever be expressed?
Aggressive and hostile anger should never be expressed—it injures and will cause more problems than it is trying to solve. However, occasionally controlled anger can be useful to give an accurate "reality-check." For example: If you need to communicate to a child that what they did was dangerous or to let you life partner know that his behavior is absolutely unacceptable. Using a measured dose of anger is only to achieve a particular goal. It is not a way to relate to another person. If the effort does not achieve the desired result, another way must be sought.
3) Should I be loving and kind to everyone?
Yes, we should always try to be loving and kind. However, it's important to note that every emotion must be evaluated by the mind before the heart expresses it. This includes even love and kindness. Love and kindness can injure if expressed at the wrong time and in the wrong situation.
For example, if a recovering drug addict asks for money to continue her addiction, it is not right to support this individual in their self-destruction or if your teenager wants to "hang" with the wrong person we should prevent it.
Sometimes, one of the greatest acts of love that we can show those we love is to say "no"—even if we are perceived as "mean."
4) Some emotions are a sign of weakness. Should a person remain cool, calm, and collected at all times?
Expressing emotions, when appropriate, is healthy and constructive. Emotions help us get our needs met and stay connected with our loved ones and friends. Ignoring "all" emotions can lead isolation, indecision and mental illness (depression, anxiety, etc.).
5) Should I try and express my emotions in a spontaneous manner?
Spontaneous expression of emotion can cause serious trouble. Image if you told your boss everything you felt about her without ever thinking it through! Editing the way you express your emotions is absolutely necessary. On the other hand, over analyzing your feelings can create unhealthy stress and expectations. Remember, it is important to always analyze your situation with your mind in order to determine the correct emotional response.
Emotions are necessary and good. However, they must be controlled by the mind. Otherwise they can cause damage. Just like an automobile, it is a powerful and valued resource, but it must be controlled to be useful.
Acknowledge your emotions, evaluate why you are having them, and then consider what to do with them. You can express emotions, ignore them or learn from them—it all depends on the situation.
The circumstantial depression and low self-esteem fix
An emotionally healthy person can figure out on their own what they feel and how to respond to those feelings. However, sometimes you need to talk to a trusted friend, meditate, or journal to help you clarify your feelings.
For some, professional help may be necessary to deal with circumstantial depression and low self-esteem. At times, physiotherapy is needed to help a person regain the full range of their muscles. So too, psychotherapy may be needed to heal emotional trauma that has hurt your self-esteem and emotional health.
A properly trained mental health specialist can help you work on circumstantial depression and low self-esteem so you will have access to your full range of emotions and have the confidence and mental clarity to know how and when to express them.