I recently had a discussion with my friends about how they responded to conflict and stressful situations. Most of them said that they prefer to avoid conflict because it made them uncomfortable. At the same time, others preferred to have a balance in responding to those situations. It means that while emotional responses are purely natural, we must try to make a logical or rational response. They argued that by responding to conflict and stressful situations without giving it much through, we might not be able to mend that relationship.
Another argument that one of my friends made was that sometimes responding emotionally is much better than having a logical response. Anger is a very ugly emotion, but it is valid. It’s part of who you are. There is no need to repress that emotion if you are upset about a situation. You are allowed to feel upset and express this emotion. Logical responses are not always the same. When people respond with rational thought, they are often left with no empathy or seem unable to relate to the situation. It can end up hurting the other angry person.
Finding a balance
While this argument was something that I reflected on, some of my other friends responded by saying that having a balance with emotional and logical responses is a much better path. This gives the person a chance to think about both sides of the coin. Why am I angry? How can I respond to this person without making them upset? Is my anger valid here? Should I tell this person that I do not want to speak right now, and that I will collect my thoughts and then speak to them later? It is important to understand that no matter who this person is, the way that they made you feel is completely not okay. Your anger is valid, and you should express it in a way that does not turn into rage.
My reflections – am I an emotional or logical responder?
I used to be the type of person to suppress everything and never tell anyone how I feel. It was very difficult for me to open up about many things in my life. Especially bottling all the trauma and not speaking to someone about it. It was taking a toll on my mental health. After I started seeing a counselor, her advice was to talk about things when it makes me upset. If someone upset you, talk about it with that person instead of making assumptions that will further mentally drain you. As someone who is naturally expressive while communicating with people, I had to learn how to differentiate between expressing my emotions when I was upset and when I was happy. Because sometimes, when I express it comes off as too excited, and the intention is mistaken.
After following my counselor’s advice, I tried to communicate with people calmly without overreacting by talking to someone if there was something that bothered me. During this time of self-reflection, I have learned that it is better to ask for permission or consent before venting to someone. This is something that I practice to this day. To put yourself in someone else’s shoes who does all the emotional labor, it can be quite mentally draining. Throughout this journey, I have learned that it is fine to say that you are not in a good place to listen to your friend or vice versa, your friend is not in a good place to talk and they will when they are ready.
Aiming for a more logical response
It is difficult for me to react without logical reasoning. I have responded to many situations emotionally and, in return, hurt myself and the other party(ies) by doing so. Other times, I have asked or needed space to think before responding. I prefer not communicating with people until I am certain that I am ready to have a less emotional and more logical communication. It helps me keep my emotions in check before reacting to anything.
Some may argue that it is important to express your anger when you are upset. And I wholeheartedly agree on that. You should express your emotions, whether it makes you upset or angry. You have every right to feel the way you feel, and there is no need to censor yourself for the comfort of others. But what happens when you hurt someone that you deeply care about? Hurting someone and accepting the consequences of hurting the ones you care about is unacceptable to me.
Controlling my own emotions
Personally, in some circumstances, I have felt more guilty about being upset rather than at the person who had upset me. I am trying to understand that even though anger is a valid emotion that needs to be expressed at the moment. I want to work on controlling it so that I do not make the situation worse. It is not fair to me as a person when I have been told to express my emotions at that exact moment by my counselor.
But what do you do when this person has made you angry and upset beyond repair? Of course, they will leave you. There is not much you can do. It is exhausting and emotionally draining you to deal with someone who makes you feel this way. There is no need to try and mend a relationship that is unlikely to work on if you have hurt someone. Another thing that is important to understand is that abnormal reactions to abnormal situations are normal. Even if you are the gentlest soul on the planet, if you are rightfully upset about some injustice or the like, that anger is valid, you are not a worse person for feeling it and expressing.
Is there ever such a thing as good closure?
The universal question that can never be answered. Relationships that are strained are hard to get back. You will need an immense amount of talking and time to understand why the relationship/friendship went sour. I would love to live in a world where closure exists, but I am afraid it does not. I have understood that there is no such thing as good or bad closure. It is just a matter of finding peace on your terms and moving forward. I have never had ‘good closure.’
All the conversations that I have had with people often ended up leaving me with more questions rather than the problem being resolved. It is mentally draining and to keep repeating these issues to someone who does not see that they are at fault. There is not anything you can do. You will just have to find your version of closure and move forward.
It is not easy to relay memories and problems in your head over and over again. This does not help the healing process but most likely slows down the process even further. There is no room for closure or inner peace. Take it as you may, even if you are an emotional and logical person, the steps you take to heal yourself is the best method.