Before reading Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman, I always thought that whenever I over-reacted, it was because I originally felt bad about something else and not the subject situation. Even when I read the book, I had my doubts about the theory I’m about to explain to you. Until today, when a situation that is not quite unusual in my line of work unleashed too many negative feelings for no apparent reason. After 2 packs of cookies, one slice of pizza and salted caramel crepe for dinner, my inexplicable emotional outburst started to fade away gradually. I started wondering why I felt so bad all day, when I knew deep inside that I clearly shouldn’t have.
According to the book, some of the strong memories that triggered strong feelings earlier in our lives, are associated with certain things (a smell, a tone of voice, etc) that bring them back to life- once we’re exposed to these reminders, our emotional memory brings back the feelings we had about that particular event along with some outdated reactions that are not proportionate to the new event that is not necessarily remotely linked to the strong past event.
Applying this theory to the simple event from today that triggered all those negative emotions, I realized it’s not what happened today that has upset me so much. It’s very simple things that happened today and brought back memories of a different lifetime when I didn’t feel the same way about life. I suddenly went through the same sadness and despair that really had nothing to do with today’s events at all.
Do I feel better after realizing that it’s not really the events of the day that made me feel so bad? Not entirely, but I definitely feel a little bit more in control of my emotions- just being aware of them and being able to analyze their triggers (past and present ones).