Are Your Emotions Driving Your Life Off the Road?
“Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.” ~John Gottman
I am a firm believer in feeling our emotions, they are good information and can provide valuable insight into understanding and knowing ourselves better. They also need to be felt and released if we are to heal in certain areas of our lives. Where we get into trouble with our emotions is when we give all power, thought and control over to them.
Let’s use the analogy of driving a car. The car is your life. You are the driver holding the steering wheel controlling the direction, speed, and safety of your ride. The sun is shining, great music is playing on the radio, no construction, traffic is moving smoothly, roads are great, and life is generally good.
Then out of nowhere your car (meaning your life) encounters obstacles, delays and hindrances. Maybe a flat tire (a health crisis), hurricane (family crisis), traffic jam and you are stuck moving nowhere (job loss), or huge accident and detour (relationship ending). Get the picture?
All these events that can change the course and direction of your life can also cause several potential feelings and emotions. Emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, grief, sadness, and anxiety to name a few. The challenge becomes keeping YOUR hands on the steering wheel and not handing the wheel over to one of the many emotions you can encounter and feel as you are driving the car of your life.
Once you hand over the wheel you are no longer in control of the direction, speed and safety of your ride. You may hit ditches, run over innocent bystanders, maybe even drive off bridges, or completely lose your way. Your emotion or emotions are driving and that spells trouble in your relationships, choices and reactions. They do not know how to drive! It is like handing over the wheel to a small child and getting into the back seat for a snooze hoping they know what they are doing even though they can’t reach the peddles, can’t see the road and can’t read.
Instead, allow the emotions. Pull over and let them into the back seat, even the front passenger seat. Acknowledge them. Give them space in your car but never, ever give them the wheel. Eventually they will want you to pull over and let them out once they have been acknowledged, fully felt and appreciated for the purpose they hold. They may change the dynamics of the ride for awhile, but you are still in control of the wheel and the direction of your life.
Unresolved grief can and often does tempt us to hand over the wheel. It leaves us feeling lost and out of gas. If this resonates with you it may be time to seek support in resolving your grief and taking the wheel back.