You wake up to a new day. You get in your car and find yourself yelling at the loser in front of you. The one you don’t believe should even have a driver’s license. You get to work and all those stupid people who didn’t do their job are making your day a living hell. You go get some lunch only to find the deli crowded. Why don’t they hire enough people so you don’t have to wait? They clearly have no idea how to operate efficient food service. Eventually you get home and find your dip-stick of a dog didn’t bother to wait for you to get home and, intent on getting your night off to a horrible start, has unloaded her bowels on your prized Persian rug. Do you hear a theme? This hypothetical “you” sees the events of the day as “out to get her”. Each circumstance dictates whether she is content, annoyed or outright angry.
In each of the scenarios above, the person has given the steering wheel of her emotions to the things and beings around her. We would do well to recognize when we have handed over our steering wheel. What I am not proposing is we stuff all our emotions. I am totally against that. It isn’t healthy. Being good to ourselves involves identifying our emotions, understanding the thoughts behind the emotion, validating emotions that are based on facts and reality (not created stories), letting go of the parts we don’t have control over (the speed of the car in front of us, the long line at the deli, the dog poop…) and taking control where we do have it (the time we leave the house knowing that traffic does not typically work in our favor, bringing lunch from home, crating our dog, arranging doggy day care or a dog walker).
Life will actually be more enjoyable when we decide to take responsibility for our emotions. No circumstance or person can make us feel a certain way. We choose how we are going to feel. We tend to be more comfortable blaming circumstances and people rather than owning our emotions and our responses. Take a bit of time each day and notice your emotions. Why are you feeling what you are feeling? What just happened that you are responding the way you are? What healthy and legal choices do you have right now with how you respond? Notice what it feels like to have control over your response to life rather than allowing life to control you.