Acting on emotions
A little more than a week ago I had an interesting experience with a close friend of mine. Recently he and his wife were looking at buying a new house. As he was gathering the information to apply for a loan he noticed a credit card that had been used excessively without his knowledge. His first thought was that these must be fraudulent charges so he immediately called the bank and began working with them. While he was on hold with the bank he called his wife to let her know what happened. A couple minutes after speaking with his wife, she sent him a text saying she knew about the high balance and that it was her fault. My friend became so angry he didn’t know what to do. Overwhelmed, he called me and we spoke. With his permission, I’m sharing his words regarding how he handled this very stressful situation.
“Ulises – thank you for taking time from your busy day to speak with me. As I mentioned to you, I felt so upset at my wife. It’s a good thing she was not home at the time because I think I probably would’ve said some things I would’ve regretted. While we were talking you mentioned something that really stuck with me. You said that I need to remember that there have likely been times when I have hurt my wife due to bad decisions on my part.
That really made me think about how she was probably feeling. When I thought about that I had the most interesting experience. All of the feelings of anger melted away and I felt a strong sense of compassion and love for my wife. When she made it back home I could tell that she was very sorry. Instead of yelling or playing pity I decided to give her a hug and let her cry on my shoulder. We then had a good conversation and I learned a lot about why she did what she did. Some of it actually is in part my fault as well. I’m happy to say that we’re working together and I’m trying to help her instead of blame her. I wonder what would’ve happened if I would’ve unleashed all of my feelings at her. I’m sure things would have ended very poorly. I love my wife and kids too much to hurt them and potentially damage my relationship with them. Thanks again for the advice.”
I am very happy that it worked out well for my friend and his spouse. Stressful episodes will always be present in our lives. What’s important to know is that whether or not we realize it, each of them serves a purpose. The entire makeup of our lives – our personalities, attributes and strength depends on how we handle them. If we are able to close each episode, healing takes place and we become better men and women. As we saw from my friend’s example, relationships can actually be reaffirmed and nurtured. There is value in every challenging moment. As I read his experience it gave me the desire to become a better man. Such examples serve as evidence that each of us has the courage to deal with difficult situations.
Now let’s look at this from a scientific point of view. The chemical and electromagnetic parts of our brain fires millions of pieces of information which it sorts and stores in a perfect way. Under chronic stress, millions of neurons are released while the body stays in a state of alert. This blocks the ability for these important data streams to be present. This is why we can act “irrationally” under challenging situations. Too often the result is mental or emotional trauma that adds to stress levels, releases even more neurons and adds to the weight of residual stress already present. Properly closing out stressful episodes is so important to living a happy life. In my next post, I’ll write on how our brain cells store information, how that ties into how our brains release dopamine and what that means for our happiness.
Originally posted September 4, 2014