After living with bipolar for 8 years, I have noticed some thought patterns that I tend to have around when it comes to thinking about my emotions. Questioning one’s emotions is a useful tool in learning to manage them. As my psychologist and I have discussed, emotions do stem from thoughts – which may or may not be true. Sometimes, admittedly, I get lazy and I just go “Oh I’m very angry because I have bipolar – which is characterised by mood swings and intense emotions, right?”
Well, that may be true in some situations where there is a biochemical explanation for one’s emotions…but recently I found that examining WHY something was getting my goat was a particularly useful exercise. The situation involved my partner – who I felt was not doing something that would be important to him achieving his career goal. I got upset and found it hard to let the matter rest. Despite telling myself that he is an adult, free to act or not act as he sees fit, I could not get peace about the matter.
After a day passed, my emotions cooled down enough for closer inspection (it also helped that I could rant to my sister who lives with me – thank God for understanding and wise siblings!). I realised my reaction was strong because I believed that the consequences of my partner’s decision/indecision would have an impact on the viability of our relationship in the long run. And I had given our relationship such an important part in my life that anything threatening it was NOT OKAY.
Now I am not saying that we should treat our relationships casually. What I am saying is to that I found it important to take my relationship with my partner down from its pedestal because it does not define my whole life. This rethinking of priorities can be applied to anything – a job, a particular aspect of your self-identity, a dream/aspiration etc. Fill in the blank and ask yourself “why is _______ so important to you and should it occupy that No. 1 place that you give it?” Someone wise that I work with said whatever gets you upset when it is interrupted or not going well is usually a good place to start to discover what is your No. 1 priority.
In conclusion, I have always known it’s true that emotions flag out what is important – but now I realise they can also flag the need to question should something be that important. I feel like I am making my emotions work for me – and THAT is a good feeling.