Emotional Flood: When emotions overflow you

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Robert Maurer


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Almost everyone, at one time or another, has been involved in a discussion in which emotions flowed uncontrolled. I don't mean little flashes of anger, but real ones "Emotional floods" loaded with negative feelings that overwhelm us and make us act irrationally. The typical scenario is: you are in the middle of a misunderstanding, the other person says something and suddenly it is as if you are sinking into a black hole. The only things you can perceive and emit are: anger, fear, panic and frustration. When we experience these sensations our muscles tense, ready for action, and our mind works so fast that we cannot follow it in a "conscious" way. emotional deluge and the emotions and feelings we experience every day is the dimension. During an episode of "emotional deluge" our rational mind becomes disconnected. Our nervous system is saturated and the prefrontal cortex stops exercising its controller function. At this point, our gut reactions can make the situation even worse, causing an outburst of anger.

How does the emotional deluge break out?

Basically, it happens that we react by doing what we seem to perceive in the other. During an argument, especially when the environment heats up, it is normal to adopt a fight / flight attitude. When a person feels attacked and perceives that the situation is bigger than them or full of anger, a physiological activation occurs that generates the feeling of danger. In this way, the brain perceives that there is a level of stress that is not we can manage and respond as if we were facing a real risk, increasing blood pressure, making breathing shallow and dilating the pupils, all reactions that encourage us to take only two directions: attack our opponent or abandon the situation. that it is very likely that our interlocutor reacts in the same way and, as a result, we both lose control. This produces a full blown emotional deluge in which there is no room for understanding, as empathy disappears, as if everyone struggled to survive.

What can be done to avoid this situation?

1. Make a peace compromise with yourself. We usually react instinctively to situations, but we can learn to develop self-control to better control our life. We can't avoid feeling frustrated or angry, but we can stop this avalanche of emotions before it engulfs us. Compromise with yourself, make a commitment not to lose patience, think before you speak, and walk away before hurting someone if you can't control your anger.
2. Learn to recognize the signs of impending catastrophe. Once the emotional seizure has occurred and our prefrontal cortex is disconnected, there is little that can be done. However, if we know each other well enough, we will know what the tipping point is. So, when we realize that we have started to get nervous, we can take a break, to make sure that the situation does not get out of hand.
3. Press the pause button. When you're about to explode it's best to hit the pause button. Leave the conversation for a moment and focus on yourself. There are several ways to take back control of ourselves. It's about finding the one that's most effective for you. For example, there are people who can solve the problem by taking deep breaths, others find it more useful to count to 10 or 20. Another alternative is to use visualization, imagine for a moment that you are in a full quiet place. of peace, where you feel at ease.
4. Become an observer. It is a key point to put some distance between us and the storm of thoughts and feelings. Imagine that you are an outside observer in front of the scene. What would your attitude be? How would you resolve the situation? When you are able to establish an emotional distance, you will regain control and it will be easier for you to find a solution to the conflict.
5. Change your perspective on your interlocutor. When we are on the verge of an emotional deluge what we see of our interlocutor are only his rigidity, anger, frustration… We are only able to see a negative picture, to which we react by getting angry. But the person in front of us, whom we probably know very well, is also a loving companion, a devoted mother, or a caring child. It is about taking a step back to see the picture in the right perspective, to have a more balanced image of the person.
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