- Scott H Young - https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog -

Respect Your State

Emotional control starts with accepting and respecting the current state you are in. You can’t lie to yourself about how you feel. If you aren’t feeling great, telling yourself that you usually only bottles up those emotions until they later spill out.

You need to see the current state you are experiencing as normal. Respect your emotions, don’t deny them and once you do accept them, don’t make them wrong. Every feeling you are experiencing has been experienced by millions of people before you and will likely be felt by millions of people after you’re gone.

When I started to learn about how to control my emotions, I made this mistake. I would feel frustrated, anxious or overwhelmed and I would try to magically interrupt this emotional state. When this didn’t work that failure would cause those emotions to feed upon themselves. I would feel frustrated about feeling frustrated. I would feel anxious about being anxious. I would feel overwhelmed and depressed about being depressed.

I do a lot of personal journaling. Because of this I have a written record of my varying emotional states. If there is one thing I can attest to it is how fickle emotional states are. My emotions are rarely constant but always flowing up and down, like waves of energy. Up and down.

Throughout my day I make little mental notes whenever I am experiencing a particularly positive frame of mind. Later when I am feeling overwhelmed or frustrated I often find it difficult to see how I could have possibly perceived such a positive thought.

You can’t see happiness when you’re depressed and you can’t see depression when you’re happy. Your emotions are like a colored lens. Everything you see through a colored lens can only be viewed through that color. It is impossible to see red through a blue lens. Similarly it is impossible to see one emotion through the lens of another.

At first my reaction to these changes of state was that it was my responsibility to keep myself happy. Unfortunately, if I did slip into a negative state, this only made things worse. I would feel bad that I couldn’t move myself back to that positive state. The cycle would feed upon itself until I felt awful.

Respect your state. If you feel bad, that’s okay. That’s normal. Know that you will feel happy soon too. Trying to control how you feel in each moment is impossible. Like a boat caught in a raging river, you sometimes need to just ride the current out instead of fighting it. Emotional mastery techniques [1] can only help you steer.

Long-term happiness isn’t a constant, just a ratio. I’m much happier now than I was a few years ago because I have a higher ratio of very happy thoughts to negative ones. The negative ones don’t disappear, they just don’t last as long and don’t have the same intensity.

Your emotions over even a small amount of given time is likely to fluctuate. When you begin to get more control over your life and create empowering belief structures you should notice a shift in the overall pattern of these emotions. Just like exercising regularly will give you more energy, but it doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel tired, improving your happiness will give you more emotional energy, but it doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel down.

Emotional control and long-term happiness comes later. First accept and respect your state.