How To Be A Master Of Your Emotions In Any Situation
I had an appointment this morning that ended up being a giant waste of my time.
I had my morning all planned out to maximize my productivity, just like “they” say, but I showed up where I needed to be, when I needed to be there, and the people I was counting on never came.
It was a volunteer type of thing to help a friend out, so on top of being socially disappointed & frustrated that my day was now out of whack, I wasn’t even receiving any type of financial compensation to cushion the blow of a waste of time, gas & waking up early.
Disappointed, frustrated & anxious, I got in my car to leave only to be stuck behind a train at a dead stop. After a few deep inhales & exhales and no motion of the train, I opted to take the long way home and move on.
Traffic was horrendous. An entire lane was closed due to re-striping of the lanes, and drivers were doing that thing where they ride all the way to the top of the line and skip everyone (of course with no blinker.) I also must have caught every red light possible on my scenic route home.
This was the opposite of my plans & expectations for the morning of my hopefully-productive day.
But, despite repeated karate chops at my schedule and sucker punches to my plans, I found myself singing along to the radio, regrouping and maintaining control over my emotions — something I feel like most of society could use some work on.
See, most of us let circumstances, situations, events, others’ choices, and even things as out of our control as the weather dictate our moods. The idea that we could choose our emotions rather than let outside factors determine them is as preposterous as a purple cow for some of us.
But being in charge of your emotions is not a purple cow.
In fact, it’s what we should all be aiming for, because the reality is: we’re all going to get disappointed by people and then get stuck behind a train. We’re all going to sit in unexpected traffic and have to re-plan our days. We’re all going to have things that don’t go as planned.
And so the choice is either to float along, uninvolved and taking zero responsibility for our emotions, like a feather drifting wherever the wind takes us OR, to plant ourselves, let the wind blow (and the trains do their thing) and start taking ownership of our emotions.
It’s not about pretending those unplanned and annoying things — like traffic and trains and spilled coffee — didn’t happen. It’s not about resisting the feelings of frustration and anxiety we get from having to re-route and re-plan. I’m not asking you to deny reality, plug your ears and say, “La la la, I’m going to ignore this and be happy instead.”
That’s, like, impossible (and also ignorant.) What it’s really about, is accepting those feelings, but choosing not to let them take over, and that’s where the aspect of control comes in.
A tree getting blown by the wind still sways back and forth and lets her leaves rustle.
You’re still going to be moved when the wind blows.
You’re still going to feel that twinge of, “Ugh, why is this happening?! This is not what I had planned!” but rather than giving in and being frustrated, anxious, angry, annoyed — it’s a matter of simply having those feelings rather than being them.
To have frustration is much different than to be frustrated. If you think to yourself, “Man, I am so angry right now. I am so annoyed that this train is stopped and this construction has to happen on today of all days!” guess what emotion you pretty much have to show and embody: anger. annoyance.
If, however, you think to yourself, “Man, I have so much anger in me right now. I feel annoyed that this train is stopped and this construction has to happen on today of all days!” you are not denying the circumstances or prohibiting yourself from feeling those emotions, you’re simply changing your absorption of them. You’re accepting them, possessing them, but not becoming them, and that makes a huge difference.
To sharpen your emotion-controlling skills, all you have to do is shift your mental and verbal language from that of “being” something negative or undesirable to just “having” that negative or undesirable feeling. You don’t get anywhere by resisting emotions or trying to deny their existance. They’re very real, and the more you try to push them away, the more they actually stick around, so you’re better off learning how to possess them and let them blow through your branches while you remain planted.
When you master the shift from “being” to “having,” you’re finally in a place where you are truly in control of your emotions. Now that frustration is simply something that you have and not something that you are, you are free to choose whatever positive emotion you want to be and embody.
For me this morning, it was a small self-talk with myself as I watched time roll on from a dead stop on the interstate, and I said to myself, “I have anxiety about my day not going as planned so far, but I am okay. I have frustration about being let down and wasting an hour of my morning, but I am happy.”
Acknowledge your emotions — the good & the bad. Embrace all of them. But only become the ones you want to become. Simply possess the rest of them and keep going.
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