At times in our weaker moments when we are feeling low and depressed we wonder whether life would have been far easier if we did not have emotions at all. There are leaders who tell their people to leave their emotions at home because there is no place for emotions in the work place. But that is not true.
Khalil Gibran brings it out beautifully in his book ‘Prophet’, reason and passion are the keel and the sails of life. A ship without the keel of reason becomes directionless. It will crash and shatter on the rocks. A ship without sails has no power that can take it to its destination. It will listlessly drift helplessly going wherever the current takes it.
That is why emotions are necessary to give the power of a strong wind to our sails. We derive our life energy, enthusiasm, excitement and love for life from our emotions. At the same time emotions need the firm grip of a steady keel of reason to give direction to our ship and our life.
Stoking the fire of passion
with a firm grip on the steering wheel of reason is
Negative emotions drag the ship under the waves into a vortex towards the bottom of the sea of life. Positive emotions give us the surge of enthusiasm, the power to ride waves and the grit to brave any storm that life throws at us. We will now see how we can manage and steer our emotions, for that we need to first understand emotions.
- First thing to understand is that emotions are not reality; emotions are what we feel about our reality.
- They become part of reality when they influence our thoughts, decisions and actions
- We cannot ignore, suppress, dampen or switch off emotions. It is like pushing a football into water. The harder we push the more forcefully it surges up again.
- We can however recognize, analyze, understand evaluate and finish with the emotion
- The power of any emotion is directly proportionate to the amount of time we invest in it
- Whatever we pay attention to – grows.
- The emotions we pay attention to will gain the power to dictate our thought, decisions and actions
- Our actions write our destiny
What do we learn from this?
- The longer I stay on an emotion (positive or negative) the more it grows
- My strong emotions dictate my thoughts, decisions and actions
- Emotions cannot be ignored; the earlier I recognize them, identify the source and deal with it the easier it is to handle emotions; don’t let them grow into monsters
- Emotions are what I feel about ‘what is’. I can choose the feeling I want to nurse and the feeling I want to nip in the bud
- I am not helpless I can take control if I want to
We will see how we can manage emotions
- First step is to stop adding to your negativity by avoiding negative news in newspapers, TV, social media, discussion among friends and relatives. Identify people who compulsively talk about negative things and avoid them like poison
- Go back to the question mark’? What does it tell you?
- How are you feeling?
- Do you like it? If not do you want to change it?
- Is it leading you towards growth, happiness and your purpose in life; if so nurse it
- Is it making you brood, feel depressed, anxious, worried; if so shift your focus don’t linger on it
- The decision that you are taking, does it come from fear, anger or is it coming from love and commitment to a cause?
- What is directing your action, speech and plan? Is it coming from love, compassion and commitment or is the motive force your personal agenda? This will dictate the outcome of your decision, plan and action
- Just asking yourself these questions will very often help you choose the emotion that you want to keep alive.
- Most of us have succeeded in ensuring that our negativity does not affect our decisions, plans or actions. Many times however we fail when it comes to speech and body language. We say just one extra word, one note higher than necessary or a shade louder than we intended. Our facial expressions and body language very often reveal our impatience, anger, irritation.
- The trick is to wait for a minute before speaking and ask our self the above questions; more often than not you will succeed in draining out the negativity
- Each time you start brooding the question mark asks you, what are you doing? Are you liking it? Do you want to stop doing it?
- The lesser time you spend on the negative emotion the earlier it will fade away. Like a bouncing ball, if you don’t keep tapping it every next bounce will be lower till it finally rolls over and stops
- The next time the emotion comes back you can recognize it from a mile and shoo it off
- Anger is like swatting a mosquito on your cheek; in all likelihood you will miss
- Each time you make a choice, you gain more control on your emotions
- Steadily weeding out negative emotions leaves you with the welcome positive emotions like love, compassion and tolerance
- You feel better about life; your quality of life improves (emotions are what you feel about your reality).
- The question mark will help you at every stage; only if you allow it to
- The myth of sensitivity. Those people who are easily hurt, get angry or sulk are not sensitive people they are egoist and selfish people hiding their weakness under the guise of being sensitive.
- The story of Gopi who ‘woke up and found out he was dead’
Quality of life is not about what you have but about what you feel about ‘what is’.
If you want to improve your quality of life, teach yourself to manage your emotions.