I used to have quite a nasty temper. I just wrote it off as part of being a passionate, temperamental artist type with strong convictions. My dad always used to ask me “Why are you angry? Anger is a pointless emotion.” Of course, this just made me more angry- everyone knows not to tell a really pissed off person to “just calm down-” it feels very belittling. I, like so many others, did not think that I had control of my emotions.
Recently, though, I’ve been realising more and more how right he was. Directing negative energy at someone is a whole lot worse for you than it is for the recipient of your energy. Stewing anger for someone does not magically cause that person to feel upset or have an anvil fall on his head; all it does it brew negativity inside of you. Even expressing negative emotions towards someone is a waste of time, because it is still energy. Think about it- isn’t it far worse to be ignored than to have someone scream at you? Just to clarify, I do not advocate the silent treatment- if there is something that needs to be solved, you have to solve it. But if there are people that you just don’t jive with, don’t dwell on it and don’t be unkind to them. Just stay out of their way as much as you can- eventually, I bet you’ll find them less irritating and you may even become friends. When you don’t waste energy thinking negative thoughts and bearing grudges, eventually they will start to wane and you might just forget them entirely.
This positive thinking also carries through to your inner feelings: you absolutely can control them. The mindpower to do so comes from two things: knowing yourself very well and being logical. This goes both ways- you can control how angry you are, and you can also control how happy you are. It is definitely not an easy thing to do, but I guarantee you that no matter the situation, if you know yourself and you have developed a strong sense of logical thinking, you can tell yourself how to interpret and react to life events.
Feelings are instinctual, so you will always have an emotion that naturally happens. The trick is to recognise it and change how you think about it. Then, you have the choice whether or not to express it. For example- someone being consistently unkind to you. Your first feeling will probably be anger or sadness- if you recognise that, you can logically tell yourself “lashing out will solve nothing” and just walk away. You can go have a nice cup of tea and think about something more pleasant, and then just avoid interacting with that person more than you have to. It really is that easy. Same thing with grief, like losing someone close to you. Obviously you are going to be distraught, but that won’t really solve anything. Some people think that they need to be miserable, and that’s okay for a little while- but if for some reason you need to jump back into the real world before you are ready, it’s entirely possible. Just to be clear, I am not saying that we should all turn ourselves into emotionless robots. But often, outside events and our subsequent emotions can affect our inner peace and our enjoyment of the world. All I’m trying to do is show that you have the power to choose which emotions to feel a lot more than you think. Sometimes you do absolutely need to feel a bit melancholy for awhile, but you can keep it under control.
Here are some steps you can take to better control your emotions and perception of the world:
- Know yourself. If you know watching “The Notebook” makes you bawl, don’t watch it unless you want to cry your eyes out. This also goes the other way- don’t watch a hilarious episode of “It’s Always Sunny” if you are about to go to a wake.
- Be logical. This is very difficult. Before you begin expressing anything, take a moment to think about what happened and how you can interpret it. If someone lashes out at you, maybe he was just having a bad day; let it go.
- Distract yourself. It can be a lot easier to control your thoughts when you are busy- distract yourself completely with a good book, or just keep your hands busy with knitting.
- Set aside time to emote. If you are going something really tough, it can be hard to focus on being happy all the time and you run the risk of one day exploding into a huge gory mess. If you give yourself a set ten or twenty minutes to vent and process whatever it is you’re coping with, it can really help during the other 23 hours and 40 minutes of the day.
- Just let it go. Honestly, the biggest trick is not to dwell on anything negative. Like the previous idea- give yourself a few minutes to process, and move on.
- Keep moving. Life won’t stop for you, and that’s a good thing! Let it sweep you up and leave negativity behind. Say “yes” to opportunities you might come by, or “no” if you’re being overwhelmed.
- Let it out. Not in a venting session with some poor friend or even necessarily a therapist- but channel your negative energy into something positive. I hit the gym for about two hours every single day without exception, and it’s not because I love the elliptical.
- Find the positive. Yeah, sometimes it really does seem like there’s no “silver lining.” But I guarantee that if you look hard enough, you’ll find something to smile about.