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The Thing about Emotions

This past week has been a big week for many schools across New South Wales and Victoria as they welcomed back students after a prolonged locked down period. It was a big week. Monday was a big day. With big days and big weeks like this come big emotions. All sorts of emotions. Some will sit deep in your chest, some in your gut and some will rise up, out of nowhere and hit you right up close.

The thing about emotions is that we don’t have any real control of when they are going to demand to be felt. They are tricky, often surprising, little buggers. They seem to have a mind of their own, one minute you are grocery shopping for bread and the next you are crying in the dairy section. You could be shopping for plants at Bunnings only to have some random person annoy you for no apparent reason. Emotions. We all have them. We don’t get to control them but we do get some say over how we react.

Just last week I got smacked across the face by an emotion, quickly joined by others, that came out of nowhere. I was doing the thing I love to do most, my job, when out of the blue came NERVOUS. I did not ask him to come. He had no business being there and yet there he was. Bold as brass. It took a few moments for me to recognise the feeling, again, because he had no damn business showing up right before I was about to meet a group of my favourite people, teachers. NERVOUS was quickly joined by SURPRISE and then ANNOYANCE all of who were now fighting for my full attention when finally the biggest emotional chic decided to show up, EMBARRASSMENT. All of these showed up in the last few seconds before I was due to start. PISSED OFF then knocked EMBARRASSMENT out of the way but I still had only a minute to pull myself together. I smiled my best smile, took a few deep breaths, PANICKED a little, and then swiftly booted them all as far back into the recesses of my brain that I could. I did my job. I breathed. I judged myself for hours afterwards because DISAPPOINTMENT didn’t wanted to be left out. I contacted the school, no-one noticed that I was nervous, but I knew. I forgave myself at some point on Sunday but it took some time.

The thing about emotions is that we all have them. They take us by surprise sometimes just for laughs it would seem but if we can name them and recognise them for what they are they soon dissipate and lose their power. In that moment, the moment between stimulus and response – we make a choice. It is not always easy. Emotions can be really, really big and take some real mental wrangling, but we can do it. Practice choosing to name your emotions, breathe and take back control of your brain.

This week is also a big week. Try not to let your big emotions take hold of your brain and derail your day. And if they do, don’t judge yourself. The emotions you get are not your fault, just get better at making the choice between stimulus and response.

Check out other articles Cassie has written here.