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Minding My Own Business

I've heard it said that the best kind of business is your own. Ironically, there is one such piece of business that most people completely ignore daily. I'm here to announce to some and to remind others, that your emotions are YOUR BUSINESS. I'll say it again for the people in the back. YOUR FEELINGS are YOUR BUSINESS. Your feelings show up to give you information for you, about you. That's right! It's not about the person who "made you mad" or the one who offended you. Yes, that's valuable information and we may or may not need to address that issue with the other party. But first, we need to handle this business in house.


So let's be clear. Your emotions can be triggered by external circumstances and by people around you. But the primary purpose of YOUR feelings are to make YOU aware of an unmet need that YOU need to make sure to meet. Our immediate response to emotion is usually to identify the trigger and to direct our energy toward that source. Here are a few quick steps to more accurately respond to your emotions.


  1. Name It - What emotion am I feeling? (one word...not a paragraph...not "I feel like....") Mad, Sad, Glad, or Scared?

  2. Identify the Trigger - What happened before I began to feel this way?

  3. Identify the Unmet Need- What do I need in order to satisfy this emotion?

  4. Formulate a Plan - How can I give that to myself?


Here's a scenario with a common (over) reaction.

Pam checks her social media page and sees that her other 3 friends went to brunch without her. Pam does not like this and blocks them from contacting her via phone or social media and isolates herself becoming more and more angry, and ultimately depressed.


Let's try the steps.

  1. Name It - Initially Pam is offended (which is a derivative of anger) and thinks negative thoughts about those.....ladies. However, upon further reflection, Pam begins to understand that she feels rejected and lonely.

  2. Identify the Trigger - Pam began to feel these emotions after seeing the picture of her friends out to brunch without her (awareness). It reminds her of being excluded by peers as a child.

  3. Identify the Unmet Need- Anger tells us that our power has been taken away, a boundary has been crossed, and/or we've been disrespected in some way. We need to reclaim our power, establish an appropriate boundary, and/or speak up for ourselves. Rejection is a mixture of sadness and fear tied to our human need to belong to a group, which ensures our safety and well being. The unmet need represented by this emotion state is a need for connection and acceptance. Loneliness, another member of the sad family, tells us that we have been alone and disconnected for too long. The unmet need is connection and attention.

  4. Formulate a Plan - Pam can satisfy the unmet needs of anger by speaking up(reclaiming power) and telling her friends that she is disappointed that she did not receive an invitation. Even if they thought she wouldn't be able to, or have a desire to go she would have the power to say so. The unmet needs represented by rejection could be addressed by asking to be included (connection)in future plans and by making an effort to communicate her needs/achieve understanding (acceptance)from her friends, of how this situation impacted Pam emotionally. Inviting them out for Taco Tuesday, or going with another friend (connection and attention) would address the needs represented by loneliness.

In this scenario, Pam does reach out to her friends to repair a rupture in the relationship which would require participation from them. However, Pam stopped to reflect inwardly FIRST, and to choose behaviors that would meet her needs or lead to receiving help from appropriate others. In the first scenario (common reaction), Pam neglected to "mind her own business" and instead focused only on what was done by others that led to her upset. Because she further self isolated, there was no way for them to "fix" what they did so that she could feel better (this is not how any of this actually works BTW). Focusing only on how others impact us, what they do, and how they "make me feel", leaves us hanging on for them to do something else in order for our emotions to change. When we hold others responsible for our feelings, we are held hostage to their behavior. It's only when we keep our power by minding our business and reflecting inward, that we learn to appropriately manage our emotions. Because this method allows me to remain in control of myself, it is the best kind of business... My own!


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