Emotional Battles – Learning Comes After

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Emotional Battles - Learning Comes After!

We have emotional battles we face every day – stemming from an argument with a friend or loved one, a disagreement with a co-worker, or difficulties on the home-front. Life has a way of throwing a few grenades our way to shake things up, and it’s how we handle these situations that determines if we can throw the grenade back or if it explodes in our face.

Warning: It’s Time for Learning

We started with a ‘battle’ analogy, so let’s run with that. In the heat of battle – whether we are fighting the tyranny of a relationship dictator, dueling with opposing emotions, or repeatedly stabbing for the right solution – we are completely absorbed in the conflict at hand and learning a ‘life lesson’ is not a priority: We are in survival mode!

Our relationships, family, and work all have the power to throw our day into a spiral and give our heads the spins.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the benefit of mentally and emotionally preparing beforehand… and rarely is it common to glean wisdom during the experience… hence,

Learning comes after.

Why? The answer is simple:  Emotions.

During times of strong emotion we think less, and react more – our emotional instincts kick into high gear! How we’ve handled similar situations in the past and what we’ve learned from them, help guide how we handle them in the future.  Our rational thoughts are like dry slugs on the sidewalk compared to the lightning-fast reaction speeds of our emotions.

Have you ever snapped at someone for something you thought they meant?  Have you ever instantly reacted with a hurtful comment because you first felt hurt or attacked?

It only takes a second before your rational side catches up and says, ‘Uh-Oh!

Change Your Emotional Instincts

Too often we are the victim of our own improperly processed past experiences or experiences that haven’t been processed at all!  Not following?  Let’s start with this quote:

“Condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we allow situations to control how we feel and act, we can no longer control the situation – or the emotions that follow!  The same is true for the future,

If we don’t process our experiences, our experiences will be processed for us. We don’t have to be the victim, we can take control of our future responses by learning from our previous reactions.

So how do we properly store an experience so it doesn’t negatively impact our subconscious in the future, and in doing so, change our instinctual response?  First, recognize that:

Our subconscious is not governed by the experiences we have, it is governed by our interpretation of these experiences.

By pulling the memory and emotions forward, we can relive the experience when our brain’s emotions aren’t pumping at full throttle.  If we take the time to review the experience, we can make new conclusions and add valuable information to the memory.  This ‘metadata’ turns every demanding situation into a learning experience that will positively affect our future response(s).

Asking questions always helps me:

What made me angry?  What made me sad?  Was I threatened, or did I just feel threatened?  Was I wrong in saying/doing that?  How does the other person perceive what happened? WHY did I do/say that? HOW could I have handled that differently?  WHAT can I learn from this experience?

We are no longer the victims of our experience, because we have stored the experience in the way we have chosen – and have learned from it. Sure, we most likely still have to reap the repercussions of our previous actions but now we’ve done what we can to ensure we handle it better in the future.

Congratulations, you have just upgraded your mind’s defenses.  Go celebrate.

This post was written by

Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at) studentofme.com!

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2 thoughts on “Emotional Battles – Learning Comes After”

  1. NinjaLiana says:

    Have you ever heard of the Experiential Learning Cycle? In the leadership organization I used to train for (CASC), we used it as a method of leading discussions aimed at helping groups and teams extract lessons and commitments from shared experiences. Following the experience there are four main components: Describe, Interpret, Generalize, Apply. They are described pretty well in pages 4-6 here: http://encorps.nationalserviceresources.org/resources/documents/ExperientialLearning.pdf

    1. Greg Yung says:

      I haven’t! I’m already fascinated and will check it out! I like the four compnents. Thanks Ninja! Or should I call you Liana?

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