Overpowering Emotions and What to Do With Them

Peter Bregman | Leading with Emotional Courage

Unacknowledged emotions can build up pressure and overpower us if we don’t release them in a safe and controlled way.


“Feeling is physical, and we’re going to talk about how to dance with your monster. Most people think of emotions and feelings as something that happens mentally. After all, aren’t they just a chemical reaction that’s produced by the brain? Well, yeah, they are chemical reactions, but if you pause to feel your feelings, you’ll recognize them quite literally as energy flowing in your body. We live with that energy all the time and typically it’s useful. It’s information. It keeps us fresh, connected, ready for action periodically, perhaps even more than periodically. Our feelings can overpower us and when that happens, a monster takes over and we can easily lose control of our actions. In those moments, your rational mind doesn’t stand a chance. You see reason and feelings speak different languages. Well, reason is intellectual and favors words. Feelings are physical and prefer action. Our minds can advise us all they want, but our bodies have the upper hand.

Imagine that the monster inside you feeds on anger, fear and uncertainty. As these emotions grow, so does the monster strength. Eventually the pressure to escape the confines of your body proves too great. At that moment, you open your email, read something that annoys you, and boom! tTat boom isn’t just a thought. It’s a physical sensation that makes us lash out in unpredictable ways. Maybe you snap at someone or type in aggressive email, and in the moment you feel great and relaxed. That great feeling probably really only lasts a moment, though.The damage you caused is done and you will now have to face the consequences of your action. Unfortunately, many of us try to manage or ignore our unpleasant feelings. We attempt to push them down, put them aside or rise above them, but that’s the very reason the monster explodes. Those responses just encourage the monster to grow freely and…”