Emotional Responsibilty = Emotional Regulation

What if I told you that you could be one hundred percent in charge of your emotions? What if I also told you that no one has the power to make you feel anything unless you give them permission? How would your life change? Would you feel less stressed and frustrated? Would you spend less time worrying about what other people did or said? Would you be a much better friend or partner, because you could be more patient in difficult situations? Would you be less judgemental and give people the benefit of the doubt more often? Would you be happier because you could decide how you felt about something? Would you be much less easily offended because you would not take the opinions of other people so personally? Would you recognize that what has been said is just their opinion and that it has no control over you.

I want you to consider the following quote:

“Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.“ — Epictetus

What he is saying is that you can be impervious to anything that anybody says, because you are in charge of your emotions, and basically nobody can make you feel anything without your permission...and when you recognize that you are the one who gives meaning to what somebody says or does, then you can decide what meaning you give to certain things, and how that is going to impact you and the emotions that it is going to create.

A simple example of this is if somebody cuts you off in traffic... Do you get angry? Do you take it personally? Do you get offended?  What if you thought about it differently… what if they were on their way to the emergency room and they cut you off, because they're trying to get there in a hurry, would your opinion about that situation and the emotion behind that situation change?

The actual event did not change, they still cut you off in traffic, but the meaning you gave it means something completely different.

Now, take another similar example… Say that you accidentally cut someone off in traffic and that person ‘flips you off,’ and you got really, really upset by that. Why would you get upset by that? They just lifted a finger… if you were trying to explain this to an alien, that just came to Earth, why that action of a person lifting a finger was so infuriating, why it made you so mad, it would almost seem silly… and the alien would think, ‘Wow, that other person has incredible power...they were able to control you by simply raising a finger. If they can control people with just a finger, that is an incredibly powerful person.’

So the next time you feel a strong emotion about something somebody says or somebody does, I want you to pay attention to the meaning you give it… I want you to pay attention to the thoughts behind it, and see if you can change it for the better. See if you can take back control of your emotions rather than allow the emotions to determine your mood or your behaviors.

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