We might be the master of our own thoughts,
still we are the slaves of our own emotions.
When was the last time you said or did something without thinking and then regretted it? You shouldn’t have too much trouble thinking of an example. We’ve all done it. How often do you let your emotions decide what’s best for you? You can’t always rely on how you feel. If you feel sad, you are likely to see everything that happens to you as another disappointment. If you are angry, you will probably think of someone to blame for what happens to you. If you feel guilty, you might blame yourself.
Your emotions are like a filter. You see your life through a lens which can often cloud your vision. You see everyone you meet through the same filter. If you accept emotional decisions at face value without thinking about them, you are likely to have a distorted view of reality. Your emotions are not reality. They are just how you feel at the moment.
How does that happen? Emotions aren’t logical. Let’s consider an example. Say you roll out of bed angry for whatever reason. Then let’s say someone makes a remark you take as critical of you. Your angry mood will incline you to take offense and snap back at that person or worse. Where do you think this encounter will end if you let your emotions decide your course of action?
What if you live in a family where there is no money to pay the rent, buy food or decent clothes. In that case, you are likely to feel angry most of the time. You are likely to view your life in light of your ongoing emotions as they lead you down paths you would be better off avoiding. Venting your anger on some unsuspecting person might make you feel better for the moment, but it doesn’t improve your lot in life.
So what’s the alternative? Here are some steps to try:
- Take time out from your regular routine.
- Listen to the talk in your head to hear what your emotions tell you.
- Think about how you came to have these emotions.
- Ask yourself if you want to let these feelings direct your life.
- Accept that you have negative feelings but that they don’t need to rule you.
- Look back to see if you always feel this way.
- If so, see what you can change about your life to help you find more positive feelings.
- If not, concentrate on your more positive feelings.
- Once your feelings have had their say, find a more rational way to handle the situation.
You will find yourself in better control of your feelings and your actions.
Life Lab Lessons
- Make a list of situations you wish you had handled better.
- Review them to see what you were feeling at the time.
- Did your feelings incline you to overreact?
- What would you have liked to do instead?
- Use the above steps next time you feel like giving in to your emotions.