“I would be angry a lot less if my wife/husband would be more understanding and not make me so angry” “I would love to be more positive, but everything keeps going wrong for me”
Have you ever heard others around you saying phrases like this? Have you ever found yourself uttering the same type of phrases? Today’s post is about one of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn. I once heard at a seminar that nobody can make you feel anything, that all emotion comes from within. My first instinct, as is so often the case was to challenge that notion. After all, how can the girl who just broke my heart not make me sad? How can the person who just said something hurtful and insulting to me not affect me?
Did you ever notice that some people can be put through the same event, but come out feeling two completely different ways? Have you ever told a friend “I don’t know how you stand that, I would have been so mad” or something more colorful? How can people be affected so differently by the same things? The answer is simple, and a bit hard to believe, but once you understand it will give you a personal freedom you may not have ever had. How we feel about any given situation is based on the meaning we attach to that situation. Does the person who is insulting us really suffer from some internal pain we do not know of? Are they really jealous of us and therefore put us down to make themselves feel better? I know it can really be hard to not be affected negatively by outside situations. Believe me between adults that act more like teenagers and last minute adjustments to my seminars, I have had lots of practice deciding what challenges mean to me. So how do you start to change your course from ‘reaction’ to ‘action’? The quick easy answer is change your question. What do I mean by this? When you are faced by a seemingly negative situation there are 3 questions you should train your brain to ask. Perhaps writing them down on a small piece of paper may help as you are beginning. They are as follows. 1) What else could this mean? as we mentioned earlier in the case of the person insulting you, maybe they were hurting or maybe even jealous of you. Perhaps they have really low self-esteem or maybe it might be an issue people insult them with as well. 2) What can I learn from this? Sticking with our previous example, perhaps the person is simply pointing out an aspect of your life you need to work on, and just doing so in a very unhealthy way. Sometimes all you learn is that person acts like an ass. Why is this important to learn? When they do so in the future you will know that is just who they are and take it with a grain of salt. 3) How can I use this? Out of all of the questions I find this one to be the most powerful. It puts negativity in your life to work. You could use the persons insult to remind you to treat others with more compassion. You could let it serve as a practice for these principles. In my own life recently when my seminar was forced to relocate a mere 15 minutes before it was set to begin, I used that as an example of how to remain positive in the face of negativity. Which just so happened to be what the seminar was about in the first place.
Trust me this is not always easy. It is something that you can work on over a lifetime. Controlling your emotions instead of letting them control you sounds so simple, but takes a lifetime to master. Just last night I dropped the ball on this one. So what to do when you do mess up? My suggestion is the same as above. If you have already reacted and let others actions get the best of you, do yourself a favor and ask the three questions anyway. Why? It will both give you some insightful answers and a way to put this to work for you as well as begin to show you the power of acting from your own place instead of reacting to their emotions. It will also show you how in control and wonderful you can feel in the face of situations and emotions that used to challenge you. If you continue to react time and time again, just remember a certain blog writer/self-improvement author is still working on this himself.