The Freedom To Choose
A lot of things in life are out of our control. Death, disease, redundancy, difficult people... Whilst we may not be able to change certain circumstances we can control how we respond to the situation. As my yoga teacher, Lorraine Woods, would always say “why make more drama out of drama?” If you have ever been involved in a car accident then you will understand that it is quite dramatic in its own right. You don’t need to make more drama by shouting and swearing at the other driver. Whilst the situation might be out of your control, your response to it isn't. You have the freedom to choose how you react. And you can remain calm and rational even if the situation is not.
The realisation of this simple life hack can be life changing.
I am a kinaesthetic learner, so reading statements such as the above would have gone in one ear and out the other. I learn best when doing and discovering for myself. I absorb knowledge most effectively when it has been practically applied to the world around me. So for a long time I didn’t really understand what people meant when they would talk about ‘controlling their emotions.’ My feelings were at the mercy of my circumstances and I would never know when the next storm was brewing. Yoga provided me with that ‘light bulb’ moment: suddenly it made sense.
-Yes this one arm plank is painful but...
-Will I make a big drama about it?
-Or will I control my reaction to the posture?
-It’s already difficult enough without me making a song and dance in my head about “how much I hate this f***ing plank!”
-Okay let’s breath through the pain…calm mind….calm mind…
Whilst I don’t always achieve a clam and rational mind (in yoga and in the real-world) regular practice of this skill allows me more control over my emotions. Getting frustrated about the queue into the tube station won’t make it move any faster and I now have the power to choose how I will react: whether that be with anger, indifference or amusement.
There are so many things in world that are beyond our control: don’t let your emotions be one of them.