“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
Our emotions drive and color a huge part of all that we are and do. Researchers in cognitive science are beginning to understand the important role that emotions play in cognitive learning. Think about what you still remember from your school days. The things that still stick with you, that you still remember, were most likely tied to strong emotions. Very little focus, attention, or weight is given to the emotions in the educational process. We can
no longer afford to leave this critical piece out when educating our youth. According to Daniel Goldman, author of Emotional Intelligence, success in life is based largely on how we are able to manage our emotions rather than our intellectual capabilities, and lack of success is most often due to mismanagement of emotions.
A huge piece missing in the education system is teaching our students how to be in relationship with their emotions. Emotions are electrical impulses generated by our thoughts and beliefs. Whatever emotional signal you broadcast comes back to you in the form of circumstances, people, and situations that match the vibration of those emotions. We are taught to stuff, repress, and suppress our emotions. We are not taught how not to feel our feelings. It is not like they go anywhere. Instead, they continue to get louder and louder until they can no longer be ignored, culminating in an outburst of great magnitude. When we deny our emotions, they end up controlling us instead of us controlling them. The inability to master our emotions can lead to addictions, anxiety, depression, and a host of health issues. Moreover, negative emotions trigger stress which causes harmful toxins to be released in the body.
First we must realize that emotions are generated from particular repeated thoughts. Negative thoughts translate to negative emotions which interrupt the rhythm and flow of our bodily organs such as the heart, lungs, or intestines. It is imperative that we teach our students how to label their emotions. Often, misunderstood emotions lead to irrational or counterproductive actions. The more specifically one can identify the emotion, the better. Instead of saying “I feel bad,” one could use words such as frustrated, anxious, or powerless. Instead of “I feel good,” more specific vocabulary that one could use includes "joyous," "enthused," "excited," or "at ease." Specific word choice is crucial because it aids in giving insight into exactly how you are feeling, what caused it, and how you should handle it.
Another important aspect of emotional intelligence is being aware of your triggers. A trigger is something that elicits an intense emotional reaction. I had an incident with a student where I felt she was being disrespectful towards me. It triggered something in me and I responded in anger. After a few minutes, I went back to her and expressed to her why I responded the way I did and that I knew that I had not properly handled the situation. I asked myself why her actions triggered that type of response in me. It was because I felt disrespected. Well, why does that bother me? Because respect ties into my feelings of worthiness as a person. How many times have the actions of a student triggered a warrant-less reaction? It's like peeling back the layers of an onion. Figure out what your triggers are. Triggers can include things such as rolling of the eyes, smacking of the lips, a certain tone, and going silent. Once you identify your triggers, put your detective hat on and get to the root of why certain behaviors and actions trigger certain responses from you. It's also very important to teach your students how to recognize their triggers and how to respond appropriately.
Additionally, we focus so heavily on what we label as negative actions without realizing that these actions are the fruit of a much deeper root. Children are just learning to process their emotions. As teachers, we often hold students to an adult standard of emotional intelligence. We must guide students on how to use their emotions instead of being used by them.
Question to Consider:
What are some of your triggers? What will you do the next time a student triggers a negative reaction inside of you?
Adrienne Whitner is an educator, poet, Buisness owner, and author. She holds degrees in Political Science, Masters in Education and a Juris Doctorate(law). She is the proud mother of a beautiful daughter a one year old grandson. After experiencing several tragic incidents, arson fire and home invasion, Adrienne made it her life's mission to make a positive difference in the world. Her goal is not to save or rescue anybody, but give people knowledge of their own power and how to access it. Although she holds many degrees, Adrienne is also self taught. She has spent countless hours voraciously reading and studying everything pertaining to self development and growth.Her depth of knowledge and myriad of experiences allows her to assist others on their path to self discovery and betterment