How to Master Your Emotions by Thinking Backwards
Whether you believe in your internal dialogue and the stories you tell yourself, live inside of a movie you created in your head, or find yourself compelled to create full body responses because your script says so, you are faced with self-imposed interferences.
There is a pop-psychology myth that separates people into feelers and thinkers. The former, it says, are guided by their emotions while they latter are guided by their reason. Sometimes they even point fingers at each other saying that one is better or more true than the other.
Of course they are both wrong. While emotions guide our thinking, our thinking also provokes our emotions. And we can’t expect to develop emotional self-mastery unless we become aware of both domains.
We all want to master our emotions especially, or only, when they drag us down. How we feel about ourselves and the world around us determines how powerfully we show up. It shapes your degree of mental clarity, physical capacity and your general quality of life.
What makes the task of controlling our emotions so difficult is the verb control. We can’t control our emotions without imposing our rational will upon them. But we can master them by learning how to navigate them with finesse and insight.
Another difficult we are faced with is the fact that they usually happen before they happen. The moment we become aware of them, they already had a chance to develop this powerful momentum that makes them feel so real and inevitable.
But we can master our emotions by understanding where they come from and how we perpetuate them, not in opposition but in unity. This allows us to perform better if not at our best. Because it is not only sadness and anxiety that drags us down, but also calmness and euphoric motivation that pulls us up.
Self-mastery, of any kind, is the lifting of our self imposed interferences, whether they are thoughts or emotions. I call these states of self-mastery, when we dissolve into all that we are capable of, resonance or flow.
A common strategy is the refusal to feel at all. But this does more harm than good. Not just in areas of empathy and general well being but also intellectually and the pure bottom line. Ultimately, emotions are time bound phenomena. Without an experience of time, there would be no emotions to experience. Why? Differentials, of course.
All perceptions are an experience of difference. What we perceive is the difference of what we preceive, that is who are in that moment, and the object itself. Our emotions are not exempt from this.
When we are sad we experience the difference between a prior state and a projected one. When we are anxious we are again contrasting two states and worry about losing the ‘better’ one. This how it was minus this is how it will be equaling this is how I am.
But we never think to question the foundations upon which the emotions to depend. This is why the emotions we feel seem so real and inescapable.
A powerful method to dissolve the emotional charges is to become aware of the preception you embody and notice how you are really distinct from it. The moment this is achieved, the emotional charge falls off like a rubber band that has lost its tautness.
With sufficient practice this can become a reflex and the way emotionalize in response to a perception becomes a choice. You will still feel all the emotions you always felt, but you will now have a choice whether to keep or discard them. See, it’s not just how we look at it, but who we believe ourselves to be that makes us look at it this way.
By focussing your attention on the most critical element of your emotions, you can grab its Achilles heel and the next time you find yourself in an emotional torrent ask yourself:
The vast majority of emotions are time bound perceptions contrasted and responded to by living in their difference. Consider for a moment, what has to be true in the first place for you to be disappointed, or sad, or anxious if not the difference you calculate between what you believe is and what you expect to be.
And if you’re into some fun, consider what has to be true in the first place about yourself for you to be ecstatic, or calm, or euphoric. You will notice that the structure is usually the same. And once you know the structure, you can dissolve the emotions you care little for and amplify those that empower you.