Who’s In Charge Of Your Brain?
I was listening to this lady on a talk show the other day. Apparently she is well known best selling author of several books. I was doing other stuff, so I wasn’t really watching, more like listening in the background. Every time they said something interesting, I would pause momentarily to check this out, as this sounded like something that might be of immediate benefit.
She was talking about setting goals, and other stuff. She had written a book that, at least in my opinion, puts a kind of a new spin on an old idea. That old idea being that while you aren’t in control of much of reality, you are, whether you realize it or not, in complete control of how you respond to your reality.
The one thing she mentioned that grabbed my attention and made me focus on this was that you should claim ownership of all your emotions, and emotional responses. The biggest thing we say to ourselves is “he makes me so â€¦ whatever.” As soon as you imagine that somebody else has some kind of magical power over your emotions, you lose. Your emotions suddenly become out of your control and at the whim of every passing stranger you see.
See some guy that reminds you of somebody that broke your heart in high school?
You just voluntarily gave up control over your emotions to some stranger on the street. Somebody says something in a tone of voice that reminds you of the way your second grade teacher used to embarrass you in front of the rest of the class?
You just served up your hot button of emotional pain to somebody that wasn’t even thinking about you all that much when they were speaking.
You hand in a report you worked on all week to your boss, and he makes some comment that indicates he is not as appreciative of your efforts as you’d like him to be, causing you to feel resentment, anger, and dangerously close to giving him an attitude that may negatively influence your next review?
You just grabbed the metaphorical loaded gun he was holding out of his hands and shot yourself in the foot with it.
So how do you assume ownership of your emotions? Just like any other response, you need to practice. It helps if you think of things like this not in touch-feely terms that are usually vague and not much help, but more like a sport.
If you’ve never played catch before, you would likely need to practice before you can play catch with somebody, listen to your mp3 player, and watch girls walk by all at the same time. You need to consciously focus on the ball as it is coming at you, and focus on moving your glove to just the right angle, and closing it at just the right time, with the precise amount of force.
It might be a little clumsy at first, but the more you practice, the more automatic it gets.
The same goes with responding to the world. The first step is to simply practice stopping and thinking how to respond in certain situations. Instead of standing there waiting for your emotions to kick in, you can make a choice to quickly observe the situation objectively, and think of the best response. Any emotional response comes only after you brain realizes you don’t have one already prepared, and it looks for the nearest one that may work. Usually this doesn’t work out so well.
Just by getting into the habit of stopping everything, and choosing the best response before you emotions come up, you will generate enormous choice and emotional freedom.
For the boss example. You hand in your report, and he dismisses it as not being good enough. It would be nice to always be given warm fuzzy pats on the back for our efforts, but at work we only get paid for the results. (And truth be told, this is true of most relationships as well.) So instead of getting upset that you didn’t get any props for you hard work, think of it objectively.
Boss asked for report, employee turns in report, report is insufficient. What would be the best course of action? Find out exactly in what areas the report is insufficient, and exactly what would be required to remedy that. And remember that next time your boss asks for a report, be sure to find out exactly, as specifically as possible, what is the intention for the report, what information needs to be in it, what he is actually going to use the report for, how is he going to use it, etc. This can help misunderstandings.
For the guy on the street, well, he’s just on the street. If you see somebody and are getting a funny feeling, stop and ask yourself, “Do I know him? Does he know me?” If the answers are both “no,” then any communication between the two of you is based on a completely random set of circumstances of which you never fully understand. That way you can place no meaning on any interaction at all, and quickly be on your way.
One powerful trick to ask yourself if it’s too late, and you are already angry or hurt at something somebody does, is to ask yourself “Why did I choose to feel hurt, (or angry, or whatever.)” That will give you immense power over your situation.
And if you are interested in reading more about this woman that was on the talk show, her name is Byron Katie, and she’s the author of a book called “The Work,” and lots of other stuff. You can check out here website at:
There’s all kinds of free information, and videos to watch, and worksheets to download to help you get more control and take back ownership of your emotions.