Lately I have been thinking about my role regarding my emotions. We all have occasional “bad days” that are out of our control, a fender bender, a disagreement with our partner, an especially hard challenge at work, illnesses, ect. However, at what point do we take responsibility for our bad days? We all know someone who always seems to share with us his or her constant state of “bad luck.” For this person, events and injustices seem to happen to them, and rarely do they take any responsibility for the various “bad” situations they find themselves in. While you and I might not be that person (of course not!), one who is constantly a victim of happenstance, we have all played the victim before, and periodically struggled to see our own role in creating our own suffering.
While I believe being gentle on oneself and practicing mountain loads of self compassion is integral to living a life filled with peace and ease, I also believe taking responsibility for our emotions is key to living intentionally. What does it mean to take responsibility for our emotions? It means that we cannot always control our feelings, but that many scientists, Buddhists, and average Joes know that we can control our thoughts. It’s not easy and it may not come naturally, but controlling ones thoughts leads to controlling one’s reactions, which in turn directly affects ones circumstances. For me, the best way to work on this is to remain agile.
How to practice being agile:
Practice Letting Go: Decipher between situations you can control and situations you can’t control. If you can’t control a situation, ask yourself, is it useful to continue to think, stress, or ruminate about it any longer?
Redirect: It’s never too late to change your thoughts and in turn, re-direct your emotions. If you catch yourself having negative thoughts or taking on an “I’m doomed” perspective, stop and ask yourself, “Is this the most useful line of thinking?” or “What could be more useful in this situation?”
Own your part: When the entire world seems against you, ask yourself “what’s my role?” Figure out your part and move forward. You will never be able to control who rear ends you or perhaps unrealistic expectations from your boss, but you will always be able to control how you choose to respond.
Being agile is like the old “Choose your own Adventure” books. Events happen to you, reactions happen by you. Pick the best reaction!