Three things. When you boil it all down there are really only 3 things that each of us controls in life. And that’s only true if you live in the privileged and affluent parts of our world. For some it is only two or one.
Like the primary colors of red, blue and yellow combine to make the whole rainbow it is these primary factors alone that we have the ability to control. All else is a combination of the three.
Your Emotions. To feel is to be human. When a person is unable to feel sorrow, joy or fear there is often a psychological blockage that needs to be worked through. Avoiding situations that touch us in a deep way – like the death of a loved one, the thrill of an adventure or the risk of reaching out in friendship – can limit the depth that we as humans are able to experience life in its fullest.
Controlling our emotions is not about controlling our feelings. It is a matter of controlling how we respond and react to any given situation.
Between action and reaction, cause and effect, there is a moment of time for the human species in which only thought exists. Animals don’t share this opportunity. Their reactions are instinctive, they respond. But for a human, how we respond to a stimuli is always preceded by an opportunity to consider what our response will be.
Do I lash out with angry words when I am cut off in traffic, or consider the possibilities of what the other person may be facing. When the fire alarm goes off do I run for the door or look around and offer assistance. When an offer for intimacy comes do I consider all the repercussions before replying.
It is in that millisecond of time when I insert thought and logic that I become fully aware and fully in control.