I can’t help how I feel.
How many times have you said that? Do you believe it? What if it weren’t true? What if we could help how we feel?
We tend to think that emotions just happen to us and that they are out of our control, because they appear so quickly and seem to exert such power over us.
But just because we believe something doesn’t make it true. All emotions are caused by our perceptions, by the significance we attach to situations, circumstances, events and behaviours.
Without a judgement of some kind, there is no emotion. Consider this.
Julie’s partner is rude to her in the morning. He snaps at her about something she failed to do the previous day. And he called her a name. Irresponsible.
How does the word irresponsible cause Julie to feel angry, upset or annoyed? Is she irresponsible? Not usually. Is that the cause of the anger, the fact that it’s not true? Aren’t we all irresponsible at times? So, is it true or not?
Either way, it doesn’t matter, because the label itself can not and does not create an emotion in her or you. What creates the emotion is our judgement of the label and our incessant need for approval from others. ‘How could he think that?’ says Julie? ‘I’m not irresponsible.’ And she lists off all the ways she’s responsible.
Underlying these types of negative emotions is a ‘Should.’ He or she shouldn’t have said that. According to whom? By what law? In his or her opinion you behaved irresponsibly. But that label has shaken the version of our self that pretend we are. And we demand that others hold that same fabricated version also, a version so shaky that it can be easily ruffled by one word.
We always have a choice in how we feel. We are in charge of our emotions. But, first we have to recognise that.
Once we start to accept that, we can look for the story we’ve told ourselves about the situation. Find the judgement we made and let it go. Don’t let other people decide how you feel. We’ve all been irresponsible at some time in our life. Accept your imperfections. So what. Let it go.
Emotional mastery is freedom and it is created through the application of mindset. And it can be yours. Julie is now finding it. Last week she told me that she had an altercation with her boss and instead of the usual seething and emotional overwhelm and time wasted focusing on nothing else but what had happened, she stood in her power and disarmed the boss by asking if he jumped out of the wrong side of the bed that morning. And she trumped him completely when she laughed and said she’d be back when he got himself together.
I love the work I do.
The same awareness can be brought to your workplace. We can learn how to respond instead of reacting. We can learn how not to take things personally. And we can become emotionally intelligent and save ourselves a lot of stress but both at home and in the workplace.
When we learn to manage our emotions, our whole perspective on life changes and stress flies out the window. Don’t settle for a life of emotional turmoil. Make some changes today.