Assuming I charged a fee for doing personal consultations and that’d been my only source of income, probably, I would be living on the street by now. Not because I would suck, but my clients wouldn’t be thrilled by my approach1)Part of the reason I do personal consultations for free. Well, it turns out that people are not much inclined towards snowballing their emotional intelligence. All they desire is a quick remedy that allows them to feel good about themselves. Not many people are concerned about learning ‘how to deal with emotions’ in a healthy way.

People seek out therapy merely as a last resort. When they aren’t able to solve their problems by themselves, they reach out to a therapist to seek help in resolving their snags.

However, I attempt to transmogrify my clienteles into sovereign beings, those who are proficiently accomplished for unraveling their emotional issues and biases by themselves.

In this article, I have simplified the approach towards emotional mastery through 3 vigorous and extremely productive questions.

Question 1: What I am Doing?

“What I am doing” is the preliminary self-analysis that I suggest to everyone who contacts me for help. An honest acceptance of material facts is a part of the foundation for any unbiased cognitive therapy. A simple conscious realization of your on-going activity puts you in the driving seat of your life. A mere recognition that you need help, or probably you aren’t doing or interpreting something in the right way, would help you evaluate the circumstances in your life with much better clarity.

how to deal with your emotions in a healthy way - Aashish Vats

Emotions are an integral part of human behavior. Pretty much everything in our life – values, beliefs, desires, choices, and situations – are a reflection of our feelings. Whether you’ll read this article till the end also depends upon how you feel. Therefore, I have two choices for doing this. Either I can do this in a superficial feel-good way (it doesn’t lead to growth), or I can be brutally honest with you, which inevitably will not make you feel good. But it will help you escape the web of false beliefs and principles. I choose the latter. Let’s decipher – how to deal with our emotions and feelings in a healthy way to grow our emotional intelligence.

The paradox of emotional inconsistency in life begins when we choose our values and beliefs according to what we feel as right. We construct our opinions based on feelings and they act as the prejudiced metrics of almost all our judgments. And from there all our interpretations are sieved through preconceived notions of our feelings2)Kardash, C. M., & Scholes, R. J. (1996). Effects of preexisting beliefs, epistemological beliefs, and need for cognition on interpretation of controversial issues. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(2), 260–271.

For instance, those who feel inferior or jealous by a rich guy, also inevitably conceive that such a person is a bragger. A classic example of a pre-existing belief (that wealthy guys indulge in showoffs) dominating the interpretation without considering a benefit of the doubt.

Whether the question is about our choices, our family, or our dating life, emotions rather than the application of rational knowledge, are always a factor in making decisions and forming opinions.

Do what you feel as right’ – is the social principle from which all good guidance is unearthed. This principle is blown consistently in all cultures of human society and almost all our choices are taken through the same code.

Struck between grim choices and don’t know what the hell you should do? Don’t worry. Just choose whatever you feel as right.

This is how our societies and cultures are oriented.

Don’t know how to maintain a relationship? Don’t worry. Just keep doing what you feel as right.

Can’t decide whether to visit your parents this holiday or not? Don’t worry. Just do what you feel like doing. They’ll understand.

Dude, do you wanna smoke some weed3)Probably, every teenager nowadays finds himself at the crossroads with this obtrusive quandary. Stepping into the third decade of the 21st century, riding on the alluring growth of western civilization, it’s hard to argue? The majority of us make this choice according to the state of our emotions. Not only those who choose to blow but also those who refuse – the rationality behind the decision-making is almost non-existent.

Going by the current data of markets all over the world, it’s the feel-good and feel-bad factor that determines the success of a product, service, and even national economies.

This is happening everywhere. Even when you reach out to your best friend or anyone else you trust with your life problems (whether it’s about career decisions or relationship advice), more often than not, “do what you feel as right” is the social music that you hear as Christlike gospel.

This social music is like a heroic band that plays itself over and over again, in our cultures. And once played over a few times in an individual life, it takes the form of the very meaning of that life. In fact, many people develop a Stockholm Syndrome within their behavior4)Everything is Fucked – A Book about Hope; Self-control is an illusion, Pg 21-46 | Mark Manson, meaning that they are unable to imagine a life beyond gratification through appeasement to their feelings. Therefore, they have become hostages of their own feelings.

In the west, there has been a lot of emphasis on the approach of rationalizing human brains into two types – Thinking and Feeling Brain, or Conscious and Subconscious Brain, or Objective and Subjective Brain.

Thinking and feeling brain - Aashish Vats

Such differentiations appear great from the outside as if science has stepped into a highly significant proximity level in the study of human behavior and emotional psychology. However, they are nothing but delusional marketing propaganda because let’s face it, anything which sounds intellectual ultimately makes us feel good about oneself. We also feel intellectual by the mere fact of associating ourselves with such knowledge.

Apparently, such philosophers can hardly be blamed. The human brain has an inclination towards cognitive bias and instant affirmations to whatever ‘feels’ as of right. Whereas, aversion from instant affirmation is merely a sign of due diligence on a men’s part.

Feelings are our ability to express our emotions. Or put this way, feelings are the reaction to the chemical expression of our emotions. Emotions are basically energy put in motion by our thoughts.

Thinking, feeling, consciousness, and subconsciousness are mere abilities of our brain5)A topic I have taken briefly in my book. And it has many other abilities such as multitasking, identifying and disidentifying, observing, decluttering, and cogent thoughts.

Asking ourselves ‘what I am doing’, perhaps, is the first step towards developing self-awareness in order to break out from the paradox of making emotional choices. In other words, to stop dancing to the tunes of the underlying imprudent social music, a meek yet abrasive query of “What I am doing” does wonders to an ill-influenced brain.

Probably, you are wishing about getting back in shape for months. However, the winters are here and in such weather, there is no better friend than a blanket. Every morning the alarm rings but you stick with your sleep. “I promise I’ll start tomorrow” –  the battle cry of every chronic procrastinator.

Nevertheless, next time the alarm rings, before you knock it off into silence, just very calmly ask yourself – what I am doing?

You can fit almost any situation in this layout. Whether it’s you lashing out on everyone or your smoking addiction (which doesn’t seem to go away) or your compulsion to contact your ex-girlfriend after being treated like shit, repeatedly.

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For instance, it is already over 2 a.m. at midnight. And as per my feelings, I desperately want to go to sleep. I had almost switched off my laptop but then I asked myself – what the hell I am doing. The answer was something like this;

“I am being lazy and delaying this blog post. I should rather finish it. Besides, I have worked the whole night plenty of times before, so this isn’t something new”.

This immediate self-analysis brought me back to control. And voila! I am still writing.

Let’s get to the next level of self-awareness for growing our emotional intelligence.

Question 2: What I am feeling?

The response that your mind creates for the first question will invariably highlight some of your specific feelings. In my example, I was being lazy and wanted to sleep to make myself feel good and, you know, to avoid vigorous mental pain associated with writing a 4000-word article on a chilly night.

The next morning, when the alarm rings and you ask yourself ‘what I am doing’, the response might be something like this: “I am acting lazy and averse to mental pain associated with working out in the gym”.

Similarly, by asking yourself – what I am feeling – you can rationalize your choices and decisions. However, for establishing a healthy perspective while simplifying emotional biases and to grow our emotional intelligence, we must comprehend three extremely significant aspects related to our emotions.

#1) Our Feelings are not that Important

Rationalizing the true worth of various aspects of life is a reflection of a prudent man. However, ascertaining the true worth of our feelings is an arduous task. Comprehending when to give more importance to feelings, and when to simply tell them to shut up, is beyond the comprehension ability of most people.

Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Quotient - Aashish Vats

In the end, all our judgments are heaved by our values, which we consistently choose according to our likes and dislikes. Our likes and dislikes, in turn, are eventually based upon our feelings. It is a kind of spiral paradox.

Our feelings are directly influenced by two things: 1) Comfort and Convenience 2) Visible Progress

We feel mentally retarding to visit a gym regularly because our feelings are initially focused on comfort and convenience. However, once we manage to drag our lazy ass to workout for enough days to gain visible progress towards our goal; we feel motivated and revitalized.

The whole charade of studying for a few hours feels mentally painful until you sit down and go through a couple of chapters. Once you accomplish some progress, suddenly, you feel proud of yourself and give a pat on your back.

The point is that our feelings are kind of dumb. The points and figures they exhibit and wail about are exceedingly debatable and subject to change as per the external situations. As it turns out, they don’t always know what is good for us.

The pain of working out long hours is essentially good for our bodies. The anguish of studying, rather than playing video games, is beneficial for our future.

Therefore, sticking too much importance on feelings is not a sensible idea. Besides, not just our feelings but we ourselves are quite insignificant in the face of this universe.

#2) Our Feelings are not Consistent and can’t be Trusted

You meet someone new and get very impressed by her attitude and behavior. Fast forward to a few days, you grumble about the same person: that cold-hearted bitch!

How many times does it happen?

Further, you meet someone new and instantly hate him. Dude, what is wrong with that guy? However, upon spending some time with that individual, you realize he is a good person.

I was a vegetarian until 19. All my friends were non-veggies and I kinda felt like tasting the cuisine as well. Hence, I converted myself into a non-vegetarian for the next 14 months. The unhealthy obsession with high protein content in meat sure helped my decision6)I had not read anything about nutrition until then.

Then in the last year or so I changed my life principles7)One of those things that you do when you start taking control of your own shit and also I watched ‘The Game Changers’ on Netflix, bibbidi bobbidi boo…. and I am a vegan again.

You love something today and end up hating it tomorrow, or vice versa. Feelings change all the time. Sometimes they change quicker than a snap.

Well, the point is that our feelings are not consistent and thus cannot be trusted as a precise and accurate source of information.

#3) There are multiple layers to our Feelings

As I mentioned earlier, feelings are the reaction to the chemical expression of our emotions. And emotions are the energy put in motion by thoughts. Our brain possesses the ability to have cogent thoughts. Hence, as no thought is ever exclusive, feelings aren’t exclusive in nature, either. Every feeling breeds a new conscious layer from itself. Therefore, we can have feelings about feelings. And feelings about feelings… about feelings, and so on.

Multiple layers of feelings - Aashish Vats

We feel guilty about feeling guilty, anger about getting angry. We feel anxiety about getting anxious. And I can relentlessly go on beating this drum but you get the point. Right?

This chronic paradox of emotions and feelings, called ‘the feedback loop from hell’ by Mark Manson, runs the show of our life. To quash this insane paradox; the trick is to disidentify yourself 

In the east, in spiritual terms, it has been touted that there are different states possible for a human being to live in. These states are: physical, mental, emotional, and etheric.

The trick is to move from physical, mental, and emotional to the etheric state. In the etheric state, you are disidentified from the external situations of your life in such a way that they don’t leave any mark on your perception.

In Zen, they ask you to do the same thing in a slightly different manner. They ask you to paraphrase your observations in such a way to make you disidentified from your feelings. Instead of saying, “I am angry”, say, “I feel anger”. Instead of saying, “I am getting anxious”, they ask you to say, “I feel anxiety”.

If you carefully pay attention, then you can observe that the subject (you) and the object (your feelings) are very gently decoupled through such paraphrasing. Though its a minor difference, yet it has an enormous effect.

Through such practices, you consciously bring yourself to a position from where you can actually break free from the chronic paradox of emotions.

I know it is a lot easier said than done. Most of us are living according to our feelings since forever. Ergo, to break such a tenacious habit, a lot of disciplinary action would be required. And guess what we do to work on our discipline and focus skills? Right. Absolutely nothing!

Perhaps, lastly, it’s time to try meditation8)Don’t try meditation for all the wrong reasons like liberation. There is no such thing as liberation. There is only expansion and dissolution. You can expect an elaborate article on this topic very soon. or any other activity aimed at enhancing your focus skills. Even if you find it painful, still keep up with it for a minimum of 30 days. If not anything, by the end you would have developed greater resistance for pain.

Probably, by now you have understood your feelings in a much better way. Therefore, that second question now will be a lot easier to handle without creating superficial stuff and opinions.

Remember, any attempt to completely eliminate any feelings or thoughts from your system, would only make them stronger. Therefore, do not try to fight the negative. Accept it, embrace it, and then act despite it.

Growing with emotional intelligence doesn’t mean to have only positive emotions all the time. You can experience life with a remote which denotes different buttons, each of them symbolizing all the different emotions. You can choose which button to be pressed in which situation as per your choice. However, you cannot punch out any button away for eternity.

Question 3: What do my feelings imply?

Once through with the second question, you would have an adequate response based upon the state of your feelings. Now ask yourself, “what do my feelings imply”. No need to drive yourself batty. Just try to be honest with yourself.

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Scenario: I always help her with work and she keeps taking me for granted.

Q1) What I am doing?

A: I am evaluating my relationship.

Q2) What I am feeling?

A: I feel anxiety. I feel insecurity.

Q3) What do my feelings imply?

A: My feelings imply that either my partner is not doing somethings as per my expectations, or she is doing something contrary to my expectations.

This means that her actions are affecting me, which in turn is making me feel anxiety.

But her actions are supposed to affect me. Isn’t it? I mean we are in a relationship. That’s how it works. Right?

Or,

Maybe I am getting too much dependent on my partner for the fulfillment of my emotional intensity. (Life – Intensity = Anxiety)

And maybe my emotional dependency on external situations is what which is making me feel anxious in the first place.

I should probably work on my own emotional fulfillment, rather than ascertaining her intentions. Also, because her actions are something over which I have no control. Thus, it would be best to work on my own self

This is the level of self-awareness that most people never reach. Not just because this is the toughest, but it involves dealing with a lot of pain and hard facts.

And even if you somehow land here, there is no guarantee that your answer to this question will always be correct. Your interpretations of your feelings are always subject to debate.

I know it sucks, but this is the truth. However, we still have the ability to choose our interpretations. Perhaps, we can evolve our desires of constant happiness (because let’s face it; life is never all roses) to staggering self-improvement.

The desire for self-improvement will inevitably lead you to infer your situations in such a way that prompts growth. It’s like when you are thinking of a yellow car, you constantly end up spotting a yellow car.

However, do remember that for any growth to occur, first, there has to be a simple acceptance that there is room for growth. 


Footnotes:-

Part of the reason I do personal consultations for free
Kardash, C. M., & Scholes, R. J. (1996). Effects of preexisting beliefs, epistemological beliefs, and need for cognition on interpretation of controversial issues. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(2), 260–271
Probably, every teenager nowadays finds himself at the crossroads with this obtrusive quandary. Stepping into the third decade of the 21st century, riding on the alluring growth of western civilization, it’s hard to argue
Everything is Fucked – A Book about Hope; Self-control is an illusion, Pg 21-46 | Mark Manson
A topic I have taken briefly in my book
I had not read anything about nutrition until then
One of those things that you do when you start taking control of your own shit
Don’t try meditation for all the wrong reasons like liberation. There is no such thing as liberation. There is only expansion and dissolution. You can expect an elaborate article on this topic very soon.