I’ve written quite a lot about our having the ability to control our thoughts. Not the thoughts of others – our own thoughts. This may be a new concept for you, but it is definitely something you should consider the next time you feel like your world is spinning out of control.
Pay attention to the shit that drops into your head. You will be amazed.
But that’s not this post. This post is all about feelings.
Yep, feelings. You know, emotions. Happiness, sadness, irritation, anger.
I bet you think you don’t have any control over those either. You would be wrong. Our emotions are probably one of the few things we do have control over. And learning how to control them is probably one of the most life-changing skills we can develop.
And, yes, it is something everyone – even the poorest, most disadvantaged of us – can learn and develop. It’s not some gift that is bestowed on the privileged few. Although, I do believe that not being led around by emotions does come easier to some. Like being kind and nice…
Yeah, I’m not one of those people.
I used to scream, cry, rail against the injustice of it all. Hell, there are still days that I get set off. I’m not so proud of those days anymore.
Ah, but there is nothing so satisfying as bitching in righteous anger. Come on, some of you know what I’m talking about. Someone has done or said something and you have every right to go off. Or cry. Or have a panic attack. Or punch a wall.
Except whatever happened took place 5, 10, 20 years ago…
And yet, like a perfect storm, someone says or does something, you’re PTSD kicks in, and you’re right back when it first happened. Feeling all those nasty emotions, getting high on losing control. Taking out all of your anger, sadness, frustration on some unsuspecting fool who was brave enough to be kind to you.
By now you have probably figured out that I rode that particular roller coaster for quite a while. It started early. Looking back, I’m fairly certain I started my emotional outbursts to get a reaction from my mother.
She was the ultimate stoic – I never saw her cry. Ever. Even when her mother died. She told me later that she did, in private, when she couldn’t control it anymore. I still have trouble comprehending that, but I think that explains a lot.
So I cried for her. I yelled. I did anything I could think of to get her to show any emotion at all. Even if it meant she said nasty things to me and spanked me with whatever was handy. It worked more often than it probably should have…
Then I found myself on my own and looking for some brave sap to bear the brunt of my emotional tirades. By then I was in my 20s without a clue what a functional relationship looked like. No idea that I didn’t have to let my emotions lead me around by the nose. And exhausted.
Riding an emotional roller coaster takes its toll on your body and mind, let me tell you. There are physical consequences to being up or down all the time. Not to mention just being miserable.
Who wants to live like that?
I certainly didn’t. Plus, it just annoyed me that my mother was still affecting my life. I left her home so I wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore, just to find out that she had hitched a ride in my mind.
You may not believe in God, or fate, or whatever, but I do. I know that if someone way more powerful and all-knowing hadn’t stepped I would not be where I’m at today. I met so many people, some I can’t even remember their names, that helped me more than they could ever know.
And I probably treated them like shit…
It was because of one of these people that I found a place that offered counseling I could afford – it was free – and I was able to take the first steps toward emotional freedom.
Emotional freedom. Wow, doesn’t that sound amazing?
Being able to feel, but not be controlled by those feelings. Being able to feel, but not reacting to people in a way we’ll regret later. Being able to feel, but knowing that even the darkest, heaviest feelings aren’t the end of the world.
I’m not saying it was easy. Being stable was a goal of mine that I thought was impossible to reach. And I still have my moments, but believe me when I say that if you want emotional stability you can have it. The amazing thing is how closely related it is to what we think.
So if you feel like you’ve taken one too many rides on a roller coaster do yourself a favor and start paying attention to what you’re thinking right before you go off. I know you will be amazed at what you find.