5 tips to help keep your emotions from controlling you
It is essential to experience the full range of human emotions – that’s what makes us human right?
The polarities of life make us who we are. With the highs it is inevitable we will experience lows – we need to feel the difficult emotions of anger, jealousy, frustration, shame, fear and guilt to understand pleasure, happiness, excitement, joy and contentment.
However, if you regularly get frustrated or feel rage and don’t have the skills to regulate these difficult emotions then they can start to impact on important relationships, your job and your health.
It is easy to react to stimulus around us, to feel that we have no choice but to be affected by other people’s emotions, however, we do have a choice of how we react.
Sam Harris is an author and neuroscientist who uses the analogy of watching a movie at the cinema to explain the shift in our perspective to help us to bring mindful awareness into our actions and life.
We’ve all had the experience when we are watching a movie and are so completely engrossed in the story and characters on the screen that we become unaware of our surroundings – we might jump in fear, cry from sadness or laugh uncontrollably.
However, sometimes the spell gets broken and we suddenly become aware that we are simply sitting in a movie theatre watching and reacting to a stream of images and sounds on a screen. When we return to reality we realise that we have been responding to what has been happening on the screen.
With mindfulness training, we learn that our thoughts are like a movie in your mind – a projection of thoughts that we use to imagine events past and future. With awareness, we can resist getting sucked into these often negative thought patterns and reactions.
We are able to start separating ourselves from our thoughts and know that we are not necessarily responsible for thinking them. Through regular practice, we can start to catch our (often crazy monkey) mind by pulling ourselves out of the movie and becoming the driver of our own mind.
Our thoughts are often stuck in a groove like a needle on a damaged vinyl record – replaying the same situation, creating worries that need not exist or living in an imagined future or past that is simply the figment of our imagination.
When we are reactive in life; when somebody is angry we become angry when somebody close to us is sad – we become sad, if your colleague is carrying stress and resentment it can start to permeate into our way of thinking and being. Like being in a movie theatre you will react and as a result, we are always at the mercy of our surroundings.
Practising regular mindfulness helps us to break the spell of reacting to external stimulus so we simply observe our experiences and don’t get caught up with them. When an event or person triggers you, it is possible to catch negative thought patterns before you start to spiral into negative reactions or thoughts and this helps to control your life again.