Six Steps To Controlling Your Emotions - Step 4

“How can I turn this situation around?” Wouldn’t it be great if we had the ability to ask this question the second we encounter a negative episode? Sound unrealistic? With practice, this can be as simple as saying “How can I turn this situation around!” The following article may offer some insight into how we react and respond and what we can do to try and alleviate the negative emotions that encompasses our lives and sometimes defines who we are.


Step Four - Reassemble: Who Has Control Over This Situation?

The last step taught us to take responsibility so we could gain control, but what do we do with that control once we have it? If our goal is to make any negative episode into a positive, then shouldn’t we be using our control to create something worthwhile? Easier said than done? Not necessarily. Let’s consider what we consider positive.

PerceptionSuppose Harry intends to ask Sally to marry him on Monday. She has been waiting for him to pop the question and is prepared to say yes. She is elated at even the prospect of spending the rest of her life with him. Now just suppose on Sunday, the day before, Sally ran into an old, trusted friend who told her that Harry was an incessant gambler and was in enormous debt. She is devastated by this news and felt it would prove to be the worst day of her life! Now on Monday, Harry asks Sally what she had been waiting to hear, “Will you marry me?” Instead of elation, Sally feels dread, sadness, and anxiety. She begrudgingly says no. How should we categorize these two events? Would you consider them to be negative episodes in Sally’s life? Many people would say yes. I say, No! In my mind, if Sunday never happened, Sally wouldn’t have found out about his gambling problem and probably would have married him. Imagine now the set of events that would ensue? Instead, she was lucky enough to find out before the real trouble started. Sally was not harmed on Monday, because she was rescued on Sunday.

How we look at an event, not the event itself, offers the difference between positive and negative. Every time we feel emotion that brings discomfort, we can accept that it is helping us, not hurting us. If you think about it, no matter whether Sunday happened or not, the reality is that Harry is a gambler. Not knowing could have left Sally in ignorant bliss, but behind the scenes of her life, there would have been destruction. Not finding out would have just delayed the inevitable. We should want to encounter ANYTHING that brings us truth, no matter how much it hurts or how much discomfort it brings. Unfortunately, we don’t look at it this way. We want to be happy all the time. Is that possible? 

I am happy when I get up in the morning and it is snowing. It means I can stay in and play catch up on all my research, reading, or house cleaning. I am happy when I get up in the morning and it is sunny because I can go out for a walk, take in some Vitamin D, and run errands. I am happy when I have nothing on my schedule, because it affords me time to write. I am happy when I have appointments and a full schedule, because I feel like I am accomplishing something. Did I always feel this way? NO! I became this way because I realized that looking at the positive side of every aspect of life makes me feel happy all the time. Without it, I would “feel” depressed, overwhelmed, and most of the time, out of control of where I am headed on my journey. Reassembling our reaction means that we can make that reaction into whatever gives us the best outcome! Instead of an event defining how we feel, we decide how we feel about an event.

How powerful does that make us now?