This is such an important concept. We can not control what other people do or say, but we can control how we respond to these outside stimuli. This is something we try to teach our boys, that they are in charge of their own emotions, and not just that, also in charge of their own happiness. My parents didn’t really teach me that I was in charge of my own emotions, and that brought on a lot of pain, sorrow, and low self esteem.
What happens when we are not in charge
I can tell you what happened to me. I was definitely not in charge of my emotions when I was younger, sometimes I still allow my emotions to get the better of me, I didn’t even realize until way later in life that I was actually in charge of my emotions. But what did it do to me when I was younger and I had no clue. I got bullied in school, and I allowed the words to get to me, I didn’t know what they said was just their point of view or them portraying their insecurities on me. My parents didn’t tell me that I could control or learn to respond in a way that I would be in control of how those words made me fell, but then again, their parents probably never taught them either. So what did this bullying do to me? I got very insecure, I thought I was fat, and ugly. I thought I needed validation and love from others, I didn’t know it was within me all this time. Don’t get me wrong, getting a compliment feels good and it can be a nice confidence boost, but you should never rely on other peoples opinions about you on how you see yourself.
I will not go in to detail on the things I have done to get validation, to feel loved and appreciated. It’s nothing very major or serious, but I can tell you that it took me many, many years to get out of that bad habit. Yes I call it a bad habit, because what I did, and why I did it was not healthy. I was looking for something from outside, from other people that I should have been able to give myself.
How do we change our response?
So how do we learn to be in charge of our emotions? Self awareness is very important here. Know how you respond to certain situations, know your self worth, and what others think of you is just their opinion or they reflect their own opinion about themselves upon you. I learned at a later age that I got bullied because the girls were jealous. I had no clue that they were just portraying their own insecurities onto me.
So how do we change how we respond to situation or words of other people. First of all we can pause and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What is going on here….. When someone says something to you that might hurt your feelings, if you allow it, does it say something about you or them. Keep in mind that it has everything to do with them and very little with you. An other thing to work on is to change our thoughts. When someone say something that you don’t like, don’t go in a negative thought spiral, but reflect on it, catch your thoughts and change them. If someone doesn’t like your hair, that is their opinion, doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with the way it looks.
I am keeping it kind of broad here and I am not going to deep into detail, I just want to share my experiences and what I learned and what I try to teach my kids, and right now they mostly deal with opinions of others and maybe some angry words from parents from time to time and they are learning how to deal with those situations, but overall you can apply this to harder situations as well. And all of this doesn’t mean we should always be happy and blissful, no we will experience pain in our lives, and that’s ok, yoiu just don’t want to get stuck there. But don’t feel pain because of someone elses opinion about you. I read so much on Facebook about these things. “you said this or that, or some people are so into themselves, holding grudges for nothing, but I am over it” Apparently you are not quit over it if you need to post something like that on Facebook, and that is ok, maybe it is a way to cope, but also, are you giving the other person more power over you by allowing these things to bother you.
Don’t give your power away
This is one thing I catch myself saying a lot to my youngest. He is upset because someone said or did something or his father is a little angry with him for not listening. I always ask him why he is crying or upset, and when he tells me, I ask him why he allows the other person to have so much power over him. Why he allows the other person to control how he feels. If someone said something mean I ask him if there is any truth in it. If not, then I asks who’s opinion it is and if he sees himself that way. If there is some truth to it, I ask if it is something he can change or is willing to change, in either way, he is in control. I know if I had learned these things at a younger age life would have been different, but we all have our own path. I do think it is important to start teaching our children now. There is so much bullying going on in the schools and so many kids are negatively effected by it, but also most kids don’t know that they are in charge of their own emotions and that it doesn’t have to destroy them. I know it is not easy, and I am not going any further down this rabbit hole.
Some last thoughts
Other things that can help you to learn to have control over your emotions is having an outlet. I used to have some anger issues, or get frustrated, punching on a pillow or even crying into a pillow gave some sweet release. I used to be this roller coaster of emotions, but with my spiritual practice and becoming more aware of what I feel and how I respond, it is not all that extreme anymore, but sometimes you just have to let things out. One other thing that helps me is dancing, just putting on some music and allowing your body to move how ever it wants to move.
Also a spiritual practice can be very helpful. Meditation is a great tool to become more mindful and less responsive. It has helped me so much. Breathing is an other important tool. Before you respond, take a few deep breaths, mindful deep breaths, really breathing into that belly button, and see how you feel, how will you respond then.
I hope this post will give some wisdom in any way. Feel free to comment with things that has helped you become in charge of your emotions. After all we are all here to help, serve, teach, and guide each other.