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-   -   managing emotions so you don't lose your mind and do/say things you regret later (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12623)

polynerdist 07-26-2011 04:15 AM

managing emotions so you don't lose your mind and do/say things you regret later
In my experience, having multiple partners, or being with someone who does, tends to bring up a lot of intense emotions. Heck, relationships do, period. Jealousy, guilt, sadness, manic euphoria of NRE - coping with all these can be really difficult.

I'm curious how people manage their emotional ups and downs. What techniques do you use? How do you avoid becoming totally reactive when emotional and doing and saying things you regret later?

To start the conversation I'll offer up as fodder part of my personal take on this issue which I wrote about here: Controlling emotional reactions

The title is not quite right, because it's not so much about controlling our emotions as it is about keeping from losing our minds when emotional.

Derbylicious 07-26-2011 04:45 AM

Hi PN, nice to see you here.

I can tell you what I would like to do (I'm not always the best at not just being reactive). If I conciously think about it I sit with what I'm feeling until I get to the root behiend it and can talk about it in a less emotional manner.

I also use more than one method to relay what's going on for me. I'll talk about things and then write about them, either here on in a letter. I express myself better through the written word a lot of the time, especially when it comes to emotionally charged topics.

Sometimes the blowout conversations do happen though. And it's not always a bad thing when they do. I find that sometimes it's the best way to get to what's going on authentically. As long as the conversation (fight) is based around what happened rather than personal attacks it can still be useful. The talking and crying can be very cathartic and in some strange way bring you closer together. (at least that's been my experience).

Some of what happens in poly isn't easy to foresee and as such the first time it happens you might do and say things that you regret. We're all human, we learn from these experiences. When I've said or done something that I regret I look at what was going on for me and I try to articulate how where my boundaries are around the situation.

Derbylicious 07-26-2011 04:46 AM

And now I'll go read what you had to say on the subject :D

MonoVCPHG 07-26-2011 06:00 AM

Instead of managing some of my more intense emotions I've communicated what changes this brings about in me to my partner. There are times where I have to vent so I give fair warning that what I am about to do is "venting" and then I can think about it rationally. I spout off a bunch of mostly nonsense which relieves my internal pressure and after a cool down period I can see and think clearly again.

There are some emotions that I know will pass and will only cause my partner emotional uncertainty so I've learned to repress them until, like a rain cloud, they dissipate.

I know this approach is not very enlightened but I also know it works for me...I think:o

sage 07-26-2011 09:34 AM


I read your post on emotions and it was really helpful. I decided I need to read Radical Acceptance by Tara Branch but it isn't available in Australia so I've had to order it on Amazon. I couldn't even download it on Kindle.

I am a very emotional person (at least my partner thinks so) and dealing with my emotions is an ongoing process. Polyamory seems to trigger my emotions more than anything else, in my current relationship. I try to observe them, remember they are only feelings and that I can decide how I'm going to react. Things are much more peaceful as a result but I really think I need that book because I can't seem to maintain a state of peace for very long.

Satisfiction 07-26-2011 10:37 AM

@ Sage - maintaining peace takes practice. Read a book, sure, but the key is putting that into practice, everyday. Slowly it becomes easier and more natural. I've been working bringing awareness into my life since 2008 and it's only this year that I finding it a natural thing to do. So practice, and have patience with yourself.

@PolyNerd - Your blog is awesome. There is a lot there so I haven't read it all yet. But what you're writing about it definitely a key to a better way of managing not only emotions, but our entire approach to life. I believe this is where humans are headed, a new way of being. It's exciting to be part of it.

Have you looked into Integral Theory? You might be interested in what they have to say.

For me personally, for the past 3 months I've been doing a particular meditation I read in a book. After simply doing this meditation every morning for 5 minutes I have found that I can slip into during waking life and bring myself to a level of awareness that I wasn't able to before. This is definitely helping in managing emotions, and now I can stop myself in the middle of a ranting conversation, bring myself back into focus, and try and concentrate on what is really going on behind these emotions.

I love that the poly world is more aware than most communities. It's exciting to finally be able to talk to others about this stuff!

Minxxa 07-26-2011 01:16 PM

I haven't read what you wrote yet (but am looking forward to it!).

Right now I've found I have several ways of managing emotions. First my overall general way is doing yoga several times a week. For me, this brings down my general anxiety level to a point where I am more rational and see things a little more objectively in general.

When something emotional comes up, I tend to do two things. Journal it, mostly to get out the ranting detritus venting that I need to do before I can get down to the "meat" of what the issue is. And secondly, I have a good friend I talk to and she helps me tons by just listening, being empathetic, relating to me and making me feel like I'm not an overreacting nutcase :).

Usually at that point I have figured out the issue that needs to be discussed (if there is one), and can do it in a more direct, unemotional manner which is more helpful to us right now.

Mind you, my husband is 3,000 miles away right now so I have plenty of time and space to be miffy. When he gets home this more than likely will have to change. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and it's one of the things we'll have to talk about... what to do when these things come up and we're in the same room. :-/

And now I will go read...

dingedheart 07-26-2011 01:57 PM

I discovered (in tent at sub zero camp out) that I was provided these emotions as a guidance system to help me on my journey. So if people or things make me angry ..... correct the thing and or put some distance between the person (like my sister). So I don't think I try to manage per se more like acknowledge and decide how to proceed. I don't make big /important decisions when I'm heated.

I have boiled it down to good and bad....pain or joy. If something is continually making me feel bad then I must do something to feel better. Look back at a decision to see what or where I went wrong and make a coarse correction to feel better.

Carma 07-26-2011 03:50 PM

The best thing for me so far is being in the present moment as much as I can. I just read some great books on Tantric sex and I realize how important it is to just immerse myself in whatever I'm doing at the moment. There is much more room for joy and positive emotions when I am focused in the moment -- most of my negative ones come from regrets of the past or worries about the future. Who needs that? Poly forces me to do this, because each relationship is unique and deserving of my full attention. Also, I've been trying to change some of my emotional energy into body energy -- movement, rather than words. Sometimes I just blab too damn much. My body expresses emotions much better than my language, sometimes! But -- this is ME. It's the personal balance I'm working on -- others may need to work on speaking up more, but me, I needed to learn how to shut the hell up!!!:rolleyes:

polynerdist 07-27-2011 04:09 AM

@derbylicious, I really agree with you about sitting with things and mulling them over. I'm the same way. And I communicate much better in writing usually too.

@mono I don't think that not talking about the emotions you are feeling is surpressing them - supressing them to me would be trying to not feel them. I have a lot of emotions that I feel but don't talk about with anyone - either they pass quickly or it's hard to sort out what I'm feeling and why...

@sage, I'm pretty emotional too, thankfully slowly I'm learning how to manage my emotions better so I don't get swept away by them. I'm less reactive to things that used to be huge triggers, and am working on allowing the emotions to flow over me, rather than getting wrapped up in them. I think it's a long term project. The good news is that there's increasing evidence that working with our emotions through awareness, labeling, etc. actually strengthens the pathways from our neocortex ("thinking" brain) to our "emotional brain" (the amygdala-mediated system). By strengthening this connection our "thinking brain" becomes more able to regulate our emotions.

@satisfiction - I have read a bit of Ken Wilber's work, and I hope to get more into it. I have a copy of Integral Psychology on my bookshelf begging to be read! Would love to hear more about the meditation you mentioned.

@minxxa - I think your point about managing your overall stress level is a really good one. I notice when I'm more stressed in general that things trigger me emotionally more and are harder to deal with

@dingedheart - I really liked what you said "If something is continually making me feel bad then I must do something to feel better" - so true about course correction

@carma - so true about being present. So many problems only exist when looking into the future. What do you do to stay present?

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