What Becomes of Your Emotions?

A woman with her hands over her eyes on a chair

I always loved the movies where the sexy detective has a bad day because the man who murdered his wife six years ago is killing again, so he goes home to his overly large industrial loft, takes his shirt off, pours a scotch and starts punching a punching bag. Then he takes a cold shower and has a serious think in a leather armchair.

Humphrey Bogart GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This is not what I do when I have a bad day. When I have a bad day I watch Bridezillas, eat something called “Oreo whip” (a birthday party staple for the ten-and-under crowd concocted at my local grocer), and lay on the couch in my underwear and a t shirt inexplicably covered in peanut butter.

At least that’s what happens with some of my bad days. Other times, my negative emotions turn into exactly what I want them to: diligent sexy productivity.

I’ve always loved this idea of my day going completely to shit and being like, “I just need to exercise, drink responsibly, then brood like a badass adult.”

Luckily, I have implemented a system of retraining not my emotions but my reactions to them so I can be more the sexy detective than the slovenly child. I want to share this system to those of you who also struggle with controlling the actions of your naughty personas.

Identify your personas

I was having a discussion with a friend. She was saying she had no variety in her emotional reactions. She said that, unfortunately, all emotions turn to hunger for her. Whether that be happy, sad, or angry, they all mean one thing: “eat.” But on further examination, some emotions meant “eat sugar,” other things meant “eat salt.”  Some were “celebratory,” others “guilty,” and some “earned.” As one-note as we think we may be, dig deep enough and you will find unique distinctions.

For me, I have two personas: the Sexy Detective and the Slovenly Child.

Identify what personas comes from which emotions

I’ll use myself as an example.

  • Anger: Sexy Detective
  • Sadness: Slovenly Child
  • Boredom: Slovenly Child
  • Restlessness: Sexy Detective
  • Happiness: Sexy Detective
  • Sickness: Slovenly Child
  • Anxiousness: Slovenly Child
  • Loneliness: Slovenly Child

Treat the whole person, not just the emotion

Treating the person and not just the problem is a concept that is growing in popularity. I propose we take it a step farther. By making these archetypes out of our emotional states, solutions become more evident. It’s one thing to ask “what do I do when I don’t feel like doing anything?” and another to ask “what does an unmotivated person need to become motivated?”

A slovenly child needs structure. Plain and simple. By putting it into these terms I have more clearly been able to manage that brat by doing the following:

1. Have a list in plain sight

And I don’t mean on my phone or my computer. I mean on paper, with a black marker, with several options of things that I can be doing.

Our emotions can be stupefying. There are times when I honestly can’t think of what I could be doing because my Slovenly Child isn’t much of a thinker. My list involves various things that would appeal to the child in me but are still healthy: learning new makeup techniques or braids, painting, making my christmas list, etc. There are actual work things on that list but I don’t want to have a temper tantrum on my hands.

If your persona is a raging hulk monster, suggest things that it would enjoy, such as tearing down buildings with its bare hands…or maybe woodworking.

2. Say your emotional state out loud

When you are managing yourself, you need to use your vocals. It’s a strange thing because by and large we are discouraged from talking to ourselves. Stop psychically trying to get yourself out of a funk. State out loud: “I am feeling ________ so I will __________.” Sometimes we need to give actual voice to our emotions and actually hear them.

3. Say your plans out loud

This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give in this life. Be honest with yourself and then say it out loud. I have said to myself out loud, “I am feeling bored, so I am going to watch reruns of Frasier and eat junk food instead of going to yoga.” By hearing myself actually say it, and not just going into self destructive autopilot, my brain treats it as if someone else were telling me their plans, to which I would say, “Damn girl, get your shit together.”

Everyone’s problems seem so simple but our own. I used to yearn for the day my problems would be as easy to figure out as my friends’. Turns out, they were that easy all along, I just couldn’t get the necessary perspective.

The strengths in this technique come from shifting that perspective. By coming up with your archetypes, identifying the emotional cocktails that brings out these Jekylls and Hydes, and talking to them with your actual voice, you treat your whole person, whoever you may be that day.

58 thoughts on “What Becomes of Your Emotions?

  1. I’ve never tried the talking out loud to myself technique but that is brilliant and can’t wait to! I would say when I get sad or anxious my version of your Slovenly Child is the Angsty Teen playing hooky. But if I say, “Nothing goes my way anyway so I’m Gonna blow off my to do list to drink wine at the beach,” out loud I MAY start being productive! And sometimes I’ll go to the beach 😜 but hopefully it’ll be 60/40 instead of 20/80 ha!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I enjoyed this post, its our truth, so own it. We are too critical about our emotions, we can accept them, but its more about how we react, whats the best way to respond and not burn down a city, so to speak. lol! Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. From Black Books:

      “In Tibet when they want something, they give something away.”
      “Do they? That must be why they are such dominant global power.”

      But generally I agree with you. If I had a hot tub I’d double my electric bill.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love all of this. One thing on my list is to take a walk in the woods. Whatever I was feeling before, just seems to lose importance when I can smell pine trees, hear birds, and not see any humans for a while. I also like the idea of saying things out loud – makes me feel more accountable for carrying out my plan.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Girl, your shit is t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r 🙂

    This week for me has been a rollercoaster of basically all the emotions you list, so lets see if I can identify. Using Sloths. And Armadillos.

    Anger: Hyper-ventillating screaming armadillo*
    Sadness: non-sexy sleeping sloth (if I’m not awake I’m not feeling it)
    Boredom: Coffee-drinking, candy popping chain smoking sloth.
    Restlessness: Overly-Extreme-House-Cleaning sloth
    Happiness: Bouncy over-bearing pink fairy armadillo**
    Sickness: non-sexy Sleeping Sloth
    Anxiousness: Hyperventillating screaming armadillo
    Loneliness: non-sexy Sleeping sloth

    So, I’m a sloth.

    *Oh yeah , there’s a screaming armadillo.
    ** …and a pink fairy armadillo too.

    IS there such a thing as a sexy sloth? sounds like a dance move.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Putting voice to my emotions is a great way to practice “keeping it moving” even while fighting chronic pain.

    I’m also glad I started bullet journaling. Writing down thoughts and goals makes you more likely to follow through with them. 💜

    My Life As A Rockstar

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The thing I most often need to hear myself say out loud is “I’m tired, so I’m going to stop staring at this screen and lie down for a bit/knit for a bit/read a classic mystery for a bit.” And then I’ll actually do it.
    Screens can be stupefying, and they help you avoid making the decisions that lead to really living your life. “I didn’t decide to do nothing! It just… happened.” A Screen Wuz Here.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. So glad to see you back! You came back on a day that I really needed this type of post! What you write always puts a smile on my face. I had a horrible day today, full of way too many pent up emotions and stress. Of course I just broke down into tears, but I like your ways to handle things MUCH better! I like the sexy detective much more!!!! Thank you so much for this amazing post. Sometimes we all just need to read your posts on a horrible day because you really are the best therapist in the world!!!!

    Liked by 5 people

  8. This is such A+ advice; being alone a lot my BPD II, much of the time, means I’m already in temper tantrum mode by the time I even realize I’m cycling again. I already use some of these techniques to help me try and redirect my emotions as a coping mechanism to reduce my cycle’s longevity… But I think I’m going to implement your entire system here and see if it won’t help even more 😀 Thank you, once again, for an amazing and helpful post ❤


    Liked by 5 people

  9. I’m going to be the first to respond, and I’m gonna be incredibly clever, so I can add a ton of new followers!

    Why am I always 60 people too late to that boat? 😉

    DG, this is wonderful advice, and one I’ve been practicing for years. Whenever I feel … anything … I say to myself, “Tom, you are feeling (anything at all) so you must drink beer.”

    Even said out loud it still sounds really cool.

    But if we’re just being honest, and I think we can at this point since we know each other so electronically well, I am prone to self-destructive anger, the kind that makes Tom seethe needlessly over foolish things for hours at a time. I am usually productive during those times, and I can always laugh at myself for being dumb afterwards, but during those moments … I feel like the whole thing is for naught. And I mean the WHOLE thing. Relationships. Work. Effort. Breathing. Etc.

    I inherited such anger, and I see it in my brothers, as well. Believe me when I say, I handle it better than they.

    The next time that happens, though, I will ask myself two questions: (1) what does angry Tom need to not feel angry right now, and (2) what are the ingredients for “Oreo whip”?

    I’ll let you know which works. 😁

    P.S. I have MISSED you, Girl!

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I’m also one of those rage monsters who inherited more than anyon’es fair share of hairpin anger issues- and yet also handles it so much better than their siblings. Usually, though, I just redirect it into housework whenever I catch it (“rage-cleaning”, I call it, while the tiny silly voice in my head says stupid shit like “Hulk CLEAN!”) … Though my Husband’s fairly good at just getting me out of the funk in general.


      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yes, rage-cleaning is just my game! (or rage-mowing or rage-hedging or rage-balancing-the-checkbooking).

        Need I say that sometimes I think my wife pushes my buttons just to get a few things done. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’d like to use the excuse that it’s my Husband pressing my buttons… Alas, I’m just a firecracker and the poor man’s the one who’s the saint XD

        Liked by 2 people

  10. TIARA!!! It seems like forever ago that I read your words. I AM SO HAPPY YOU ARE BACK!! I do the talking out loud thing all the time. And the one thing I ask myself over and over again is, ‘Tanya, what the fuck is wrong with you?’ It does help to ask it with words – ones I can hear with my ears – but I never seem to have an answer. Frankly, I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me. Think I just need to start watching bravo in my underpants with a boatload of Oreo Whip. (Where the hell has this dream concoction been my whole damn life?) I love your advice, you always find a way to get this old broad thinking, and I need all the help I can get. Damn girl, it’s good to have you back!! MUAH. 🤗

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Tiara, you are perfection. It makes me happy just to see the Damn Girl logo, but then I read your words and you are a gorgeous parcel of wise, witty, wonderfulness. I am totally going to do the out loud voice thing. Welcome back, Beautiful!!!!!

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Ugh I loved this. I just wrote a blog on Kicking Anxieties Ass and let me tell you, it def makes you work through some of your stinky old baggage you’ve been carrying around. I remember when I first found your blog and I am legit still as in love with it now as I was then. WELCOME BACK AND LETS KICK SOME ASSSS!

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Recently, I had a similar epiphany (saying things out loud) and it really does kinda shock you into pulling your self toward yourself, what a great read!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I like this approach, because it suggests a kind of healthy detachment. You think of these facets of yourself as separate entities and that helps you cope with them. I’m finding more and more that a degree of detachment from the world around me and my feelings is actually helpful, because I’m a person who can so easily be wholly consumed by emotions. I just have to be careful not to let that detachment turn into apathy.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. If I can be serious and non-childish for even five seconds though, ‘ahem’, I’ve been thinking about what you said, a lot. And I don’t think I’ve ever used this technique on myself, out loud. I will try this.

    The only thing that comes close, is that I speak out loud when I’m not focusing.

    For instance, I go to kitchen to make coffee, come out with something random that’s not coffee, sit down and remember what it was I got up for in the first place.

    Or that time when I was making myself a latte, fill up a mug with milk and walk into the bathroom. Then look down at mug of milk and say “Sam, you’re definitely not focusing”.

    I will spend some time thinking about why I don’t say my feelings out loud. I’m liking this idea!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I love love LOVE this advice so much!!!! And your delivery (as ever) makes it so much better! When I have a bad day, I also blog about it but without the brilliant advice at the end. Mine is narcissistic, ending only when I found a crumpled up hand written letter from a child to her former teacher, which was therapy for me:

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s always an amazing read when I come to your site! Each time that I come to your site, I can’t help but thank you for all the times you read my posts and commented with encouraging words. Thank you for following me and taking an interest in what I felt. Thanks for being a light in my life at that time. I don’t know if you’ll ever know how appreciative I am. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great advises, I like your way of thinking and I am going to try out things you advised.
    Check some of my posts if you are up to and have the time, I am trying to get to that mental state and self awareness you are referencing to.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. “I always loved the movies where the sexy detective has a bad day because the man who murdered his wife six years ago is killing again, so he goes home to his overly large industrial loft, takes his shirt off, pours a scotch and starts punching a punching bag. Then he takes a cold shower and has a serious think in a leather armchair.”

    You write so much of what I think and always in that comedic observational style that I adore. It’s brilliant. X

    Liked by 1 person

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