Acting on our feelings is not always for the best

I am re-reading Sheryl Van Dijk’s book, Calming the Emotional Storm at the moment and finding it choc full of wisdom. She has tips for managing the emotional storms we create when we react ineffectively from our feelings and make judgements of situations, people and events instead of working skilfully to understand our underlying feelings. I have shared a post from this book on emotional validation before and will provide the link when I can. A lot of what she writes is based on the concept of ‘wise mind’ developed in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy by therapist Marsha Linehan.

In the chapter How to Be More Effective in your Life, she explains that sometimes acting out of our emotions only makes situations worse (and this is something I have experienced a lot) and sometimes what is really needed is to act in the opposite way, most especially if we are just in a triggered state and taking a harsh reactive stance may end up damaging things we value.

The four emotions she unpacks in this chapter are : anger, sadness, anxiety and guilt shame. In anger we often act out in a time of intense emotion rather than withdrawing and asking for time out so we can get a better handle on the situation. In sadness we often withdraw from others when we would be better to draw closer and ask for comfort or support. In anxiety we often seek ways to run away from the anxiety rather than stay with the symptoms and use breathwork and inner talk to accept and self soothe. And finally, guilt and shame also tell us to hide out or withdraw when really we are better to stay with the situation and work through the feelings or learn when they are just being inappropriately triggered.

I was considering this week that with Mercury in the sign also ruled by Mars, Scorpio that a significant aspect of this current retrograde transit may involve some focus on how we act or react out of deep and complex emotional triggers (Pluto also rules Scorpio and shows insecurities that may underlie compulsive or obsessive behaviours). This won’t be applicable for everyone but maybe for some. Mercury moving backward gives us a three week opportunity to review how we have been reacting or acting, noticing what is affecting our close intimate personal relationships (since in this transit it is in the sign of Scorpio and Mars its lower octave ruler is currently placed in the sign of relationships and intrapersonal polarities of self and other, Libra.)

Our feelings do provide us with essential information in life about what does and does not make us happy, but sometimes we have to face certain uncomfortable feelings to achieve long term goals and put some desires on hold because short term gratification will get in the way of achieving long term things of values or personal desires or dreams. Reacting out of our feelings may prevent us from happiness if we are not skilful in the use of our emotions and if we don’t know how to manage the difficult ones. This is a big issue for those of us who didn’t have adequate holding, containment, or mirroring in childhood or experience healthy boundaries in our family of origin.

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