Emotional Mastery: A Man's Memoir
Us men, we have a weird relation with emotions, don’t we? No matter where we are from, what our ethnicity is, or the culture we grew up in, there almost always is a societal expectation and norm set of how much emotions and what kind of emotions is alright for us to express publicly. Too much and we are outcasted for being feminine and too little and we are declared uncaring, ruthless and unloving. In all of this pre-defined system, every so often young boys and men are rendered incapable of not only expressing & dealing with their emotions but even identifying emotions becomes an ordeal.
My story is no different. Emotional stoicism was something I wore with pride. I often found myself at crossroads, doing things I don’t want to and there always was this undying contempt in my life. I realized that this life was not what I wanted and that I needed to make a change. However I didn’t know how to and so I continued the way I was until in the first year of my Bachelors when our professor introduced us to the concept of the ‘Wheel of Emotions’. She explained to us that emotions are a natural and healthy part of the human experience and that understanding and regulating emotions can lead to improved mental and physical health.
The visual representation of the wheel of emotions, depicts emotions as a circular diagram, with different emotions radiating from a central point and arranged based on their relationship to one another. I was honestly struck by how the model captured the interconnectedness of emotions and the dynamic process by which one emotion can lead to another. Intrigued by the concept I decided to give this a try.
I started paying attention to my emotions - Identifying them and then expressing them, instead of bottling them up. To my surprise, expressing the emotions I had made me feel lighter and more at peace. Somehow even my relationships with others improved and I started to feel more open and at one with myself.
However, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows... At times I felt overwhelmed by my emotions and would often lash out in anger, without being able to control myself. I couldn’t understand why that was the case and how I could deal with this situation I found myself in. I went back to my Psychology professor for help. She explained to me that emotions can sometimes spin out of control and hence advised me to practice mindfulness and to become more self-aware of my emotions, so that I could manage them better. I followed the advice and started practicing mindfulness. Learning to recognize when my emotions were getting the best of me and then I would take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about the situation before reacting. It certainly wasn’t easy at first but over time, I became better at managing my emotions and found that I was able to express myself more positively and healthily.
This journey taught me that being self-aware and mindful is key to finding happiness and peace in life. But each one of our journeys is going to be different and each one of us might have to take a different approach to master our emotions and thereby gaining mastery over ourselves. However, one thing shall remain common for everyone - The wheel of emotions. It is an important aspect of one’s life and can prove to be a massive tool for embracing and expressing emotions. It can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life, but it's also important to find balance and deal with emotions in a healthy way.