None of my beliefs are likely to evoke as much dispute as this one… your emotions are your choice.
Without fail people tell me that their emotions are ‘beyond their control’, that they should ‘let them happen naturally and not disturb them’ and you never know what external situations will prevail to change your emotional state.
Now, the caveat I have on this topic is that yes, I absolutely agree the short term benefits of stuffing our true emotions down, emotions like grief, anger, sadness can most certainly have dire consequences into the future. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I AM talking about is the timing in which we turn particular emotions on and off is entirely up to us.
Here’s one example;
This morning I went grocery shopping. Unlike many I really enjoy this time of the week, in fact it puts me into a meditative state, possibly just what the store wants but we’re not doing evil marketing in this post. I had a good experience, didn’t spend too much money and was feeling utterly relaxed and looking forward to an afternoon of cooking (yes, I also find that relaxing).
I backed my car out of the tight park, carefully checked nothing was coming and started my way home. All of a sudden a big four wheel drive cut the corner of the exit and hurtled towards me. Not having time to straighten up at this point I was still in the middle of the narrow road and having cheated the corner she was too. Because she’d been traveling too fast for the situation she hadn’t seen me early enough and we wouldn’t be able to get around one another without one backing off.
Perhaps it was because her 4WD was bigger than my 4WD, perhaps I’m just a soft touch (I’m quite comfortable with that), or perhaps she just looked scary (note I’m refraining from many additional notes I’d otherwise like to add). I backed up.
She swung around my car, chewing her gum and looking ahead and I yelled out the window “YOU’RE WELCOME”.
My serenity was gone, I was spitting chips. I carried my anger for three blocks towards home before I noticed it.
Once spotted I had a choice to make. What emotional state did I choose to experience in this situation? I had a range of options;
- I could stay in the delicious anger and probably scowl at every 4WD that matched the description for the next month telling everyone around me the story of the rude woman that nearly killed me in the carpark.
- I could feel shame in backing off and letting her pass.
- I could ignore it and go onto something else
- I could dive right into it, change the way I felt about the incident and move forward.\
Here’s what I did, after I momentarily let myself experience the feeling of anger.
First of all I celebrated my decision to back off first.
Secondly, I decided there were a myriad of reasons for her actions, none of which were any of my business and in fact a waste of time to try and determine
Thirdly, I visualised her car with unicorn like wings and party poppers coming out of her eyes – don’t ask why that was the visual I’ve no idea but I can tell you it made me laugh
And then I decided that I was going to feel empowered by the situation
So I do
Let’s face it, there is no plausible way that we can ever stop every selfish person creating havoc in our lives, we can’t stop bad events, we can’t even protect ourselves from random acts of negativity. But what we do have the power to do is choose how we feel about it, and when.
And besides, my family is going to be very pleased I changed my mindset, cooking when I’m angry creates a bitter feast.