We generally view emotions as like the weather: something that happens beyond our control that we just have to live with. The truth is we have a lot more control over the creation of emotions than we realize. How we interpret a situation, how we perceive events, the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world; all these powerfully impact the emotions we experience.
Many of the things or events that we claim cause our emotions are really just triggers, fuses attached to pre-existing feelings. My wife says she didn’t get around to doing something I’d asked her to do and I react strongly. Was the task that important? No, not really. That is not where the energy, the strong emotion came from. The story I’d been telling myself all too often is that I’m carrying too much of the partnership work load and it’s not fair. That story, that interpretation of the world, that perception of events: that is where the strong emotion came from and that is a reality I’d created pretty much all by myself.
Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself. Ask yourself if other storylines are possible, if others would see it differently or feel differently. If so, then perhaps your emotions around the situation come in large measure from you, your attachments and values, and not from the situation itself. Psychologists speak of “free floating anxiety/anger looking for an attachment point” i.e. people who have issues, often internal, that they are not facing or coping well with and are looking for something outside of themselves to focus on so that they can distract or distance themselves from facing the things that really scare them.*
Ask yourself if your stories and your point of view serve you. Do they bring you peace of mind? Contentment? Connection? Harmony?
You’ve but one life to live; I suggest that you do all you can to release your brakes, banish your destructive doubts, free yourself from fear. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life. Do whatever you need to do to keep your inner world peaceful for your inner peace is essential for your health and well-being.
“Peace begins within me. The more peaceful I am inside, the more peace I project to the world; all that I seek is already within me, already freely available to me.” – Louise Hay
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer, 1940-2015
“Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us,
and the world will be as one.”
– John Lennon
*This same dysfunctional tactic often plays out in politics; classic case is Argentina’s ruler picking a fight with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands in order to distract the populace’s attention from economic chaos on the home front.
As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier