I love this quote! Unfortunately however I have no idea who first said it and therefore should be given credit. If the author happens to be reading – thanks, it’s a good one.
When I read these words I am reminded of the power we all have to choose, not only how we feel, but also how we respond to our feelings. In the course of any given day we experience many different emotions, our greatest challenge and opportunity lies in the choices we make about which we indulge and those we don’t.
Making wise choices however can be far easier said than done: while in the throws of an emotional meltdown it can be hard to keep things in perspective and make considered choices. Undoubtedly for many of us it is far easier to go with our emotional flow and allow our actions to be nothing more than an unconscious reaction to how we feel.
Unfortunately when we allow ourselves to indulge unhelpful emotions or simply react to them, the outcomes we create are not always the ones we want. Making conscious choices about which emotions we allow to influence us and those we will ‘put back in their box’ is one of the most important ways we are able to influence our own success. How often have you reacted and then later regretted your words or actions? When have you had to live with the consequences of struggling to choose the wave of emotions you surf?
I remember all too well the day I chose to react to feelings of betrayal without first stopping to reflect on either why I was feeling that way or what the consequences might be if I reacted in the moment. Instead I moved straight into delivering a defensive strike in the process creating a heated and painful conflict that lead to the loss of, up until that point, a dear friend. Looking back on those events it is easy to see that I was over simplifying the issues and taking an idealist stance on something far more complex. Had I allowed the feeling of betrayal to wash over me, I’m certain I soon would have been able to see the full truth of the situation.
To keep things in perspective and choose the best response first we must understand that not every wave of emotion will lead us to the beach. If we want to avoid ending up on the rocks we are wise to stop and consider the extent to which acting on a feeling serves us well. Learning to be an observer of our own feelings is the first critical step in mastering our emotions.