My parents used to tell me in my younger years that I was “TOO EMOTIONAL”. That if I didn’t get a grip on my feelings… then I would pay heavy consequences… not just with them… but in life. I’ve worked on myself over the decades and become a lot wiser to the control I actually really do have over the oftentimes intense emotions I feel.
And it’s not just because I’m now older and wiser… because it hasn’t been terribly long ago even at the ripe age of 45, that I’ve learned this life lesson. And it’s not because my own parents told me over and over not to be so emotional, and to learn to better manage myself. It’s because early on in my training as a Life Coach and Relationship Coach, I was taught an invaluable tool that helped me understand on a deep level WHY I felt certain emotions more than others… and why I stay stuck in certain emotions even when they make me feel like shit. This tool taught me the primary driving factor behind all emotions… and that’s our human drive to meet our “Six Universal Human Needs”. So when I could see how my core human needs were getting met through my feelings and emotions… I could then begin to grow more and more aware of what my emotions were doing FOR me… rather than TO me. And then I could make better choices around the emotions I did want to feel… and for how long I was willing to feel them.
Think of the last time you were mad at your love partner. SO mad… that you held on to your anger and withheld your love and compassion from them because you really wanted them to ‘pay’ for the pain you felt from that thing they said or did. Remember how much that argument or fight hurt, yet you remained stuck inside of it? You stayed in the fight, and even poured kerosene on the fire. So why do we stay stuck in these painful dynamics? What prevents us from being able to take that pause, and climb out of our relationship ruts?
The reason is that our emotions, even the super painful ones that leave us buckled on the floor, meet our “Six Universal Human Needs”.
Our different emotions… both the good ones and the bad ones… have the potential to meet our human needs – the needs we must meet every day… to some degree… to firstly, survive and secondly, to thrive. We can meet our needs through our thoughts, our emotions, our beliefs, our actions and choices in “constructive and positive” ways that are good for us and our relationships long-term. OR, we can meet these same needs in “destructive and negative” ways that hijack our long-term, but may serve as a temporary fix right now… thus the natural temptation to use these ways. These destructive ways we use to get our human needs met are “false rewards” because they may feel good in the moment… but can sabotage our long term joy and success with our selves and in our key relationships.
For example, when we stay angry, pissed and closed-off to our partner to win a conflict rather than resolve… we inadvertently get some of our human needs met. Like our universal human need for “Significance” – our need to feel important, respected, needed, wanted, worthy, purposeful, enough. Engaging in unproductive conflict can help us feel powerful, important, worthy of the attention of others, and all that other stuff that helps us feel that instant rush of power because we’re now our love partner’s opponent, rather than teammate. But we all know where this path ultimately leads us with our partners.
We can also meet our universal human need for “Love & Connection” in our worst arguments, because now, we (finally) have our partner’s full and undivided attention. Their focus is finally on us. For many couples who don’t get to see their partners or connect with them meaningfully as often as they need, arguing and engaging in conflict can be their anecdote to feeling a lack of attention and affection from their partner.
We can also meet our universal human need for “Certainty” and comfort by staying in conflict, because this can allow us to avoid addressing the deeper root cause of relationship pain, which can feel most uncertain, and most uncomfortable.
How can you hone your own personal power to better manage, and even choose, the emotions you feel and experience so that you can have more control over what you get to experience in your life and in your relationships?
Are you struggling in your committed love relationship at home? Ready to make a long-lasting shift that will transform the emotional stuckness you’re feeling now?