We can choose to control emotions or let them control us. After all, it’s important to remember that you are the sum of your choices.
For example, we’ve all heard how one bad move in the morning can create a snowball effect throughout our day. Say you stub your toe on your way into the bathroom first thing. You probably will fear the rest of your day is going to take a sharp turn downhill, and fast.
You’ve barely opened your eyes and already the day is coated with this feeling of dread. You’ve been down this road before. You know the path all too well.
The Struggle is Real
No doubt, it’s hard to control emotions when your toe is throbbing!
First it’s stubbing your toe, next it’s missing the exit on your drive into school or work, then getting to where you need to be only to discover you’ve left you’re your cellphone in your car a whole football field or two or three away. Yeah, I’ve done that a couple times. Actually, I just did the whole forget the phone in the car ordeal the other day.
When all Hell Breaks Loose
I don’t know, it just seems like once the day starts off on the wrong foot, things just seem to go haywire from there. We wake up on the wrong side of the bed and spend the rest of the day in one long trudge to nightfall. Okay, that sounds kind of depressing to me. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to experience sixteen plus hours in that kind of mode. Yuck.
How to Control Emotions
There’s a solution to turning what seems like a failure into a success. Undoubtedly, there is always a solution. Just because something starts out one way, does not give it the power to maintain the status quo for the rest of the day. Thank goodness or else can you imagine how scared we’d feel to wake up in the morning? What if we stub our toe? That would royally suck! If we have no way of setting a new course of direction, then we may as well slip back under the covers and wait out the following twenty four hours to try again the next day.
There’s a Better Way
There’s always a solution to control emotions in any situation if you’re willing to search for it. We can change the direction of our day by the actions we take. To do this, you have to trust yourself, trust that you do have a certain level of control over your emotions and plans.
I don’t believe that what happens to you in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Rather I believe that what you do in response to what happens sets the tone for the rest of your day.
If you’re really having a bad day and need some ‘me-time’ or just plain time out from everyone and everything, that’s okay. Sometimes we need to take care of ourselves and bring our stress levels down before we can improve our situation. For these moments, I have my go-to items.
My Go-To De-Stressor Items
What the Pros Have to Say
If you read or listen to interviews of successful people, you will hear a similar beat to their advice. They will tell you it’s what they do, the actions that they take in the morning that jump-starts their productivity for the day. If you have a positive experience in the morning, you are more likely to carry that throughout every action of your day. So, it’s important to advise here that if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, reset yourself to a more positive vibe.
You have that power. You are not a bystander. You’re a participant. That means you have to make this happen. You must control emotions here.
The Power of a List
I find a gratitude list to be helpful. When I’m feeling like I want to slip back under the covers and wait out the tumultuous day ahead, I pull it out and read it to get back onto a frequency that is positive.
You want to set yourself up for success, to be able to learn and grow from what the day offers.
This past year, I spoke with a group of wonderful young adults at a local high school. We had this very discussion about defining success for ourselves and not measuring it against anyone else’s standards. One way I define success for myself is if I have learned something from the day, I have been successful. With that definition, I can’t fail because life is constantly offering opportunities to learn and grow from what we experience. Even if that is getting past a stubbed toe!
Sum of Choices
It’s important to remember that you are the sum of your choices. What you do today affects you tomorrow. As human beings, we’re programmed to seek out habits and structure. We crave the stability of knowing what’s expected.
Surprises are nice in life. They keep us on our toes. But, when it comes to important aspects of life, a system can be the difference between growth and stagnation. Operating within structure helps us to organize our patterns in a logical, clear, and manageable way. For instance, our morning routines allow us to sail through important steps to get us out of bed and out of the door in an organized, non-stressful way. We emerge from our restful slumbers renewed and ready to tackle the day. Our morning ritual sets us up for the ability to rise and meet the world, putting our best foot forward.
Nothing blocks growth faster than stress. And if we let it, stress can control emotions like no other feeling.
Every day we encounter stress in various forms. Some of this stress is good because it pushes us to think outside our comfort zones. But other stress is just annoying, like getting out of the door on time, forgetting things and having to retrace your steps to get to them. Or, having to redo things because one thing led to another and a mess evolved.
Having a set ritual for certain elements of your day, those things that are vital and a part of the fabric of your everyday life, keeps your brain focused by wiping out the unnecessary stress of getting them done.
The Power of Rituals
Rituals can play a huge role in your growth and in your attempt to control emotions. They serve a similar purpose to that of a coach. You see, they keep us on track. Also, they ensure that we’re hitting the important marks of things we might otherwise put aside, like nutrition, stretching, clearing the mind, and de-stressing.
Rituals remind us to pause, reflect and recharge. They help us get past those stubbed toes and back on track, one that is pre-programmed for success.
The rituals I’m talking about are things that we can incorporate into our daily life.
- Yoga stretches first thing in the morning
- Drinking lemon water upon waking
- Drinking a green smoothie to lift your mood, mental functioning, and immune system
- Reviewing your daily goals
- Deep breathing
- 50 minutes of hard, focused work. 10 minutes of rest. Repeat.
- When eating a meal, eat the meal. Don’t allow distractions, emails, phone calls, or television. Eat the meal and savor it.
- Ask yourself at the end of the day: What important lesson did I learn today?
When you pre-program your day with uplifting activity, you’re way ahead of negativity, and you control emotions at that point. Yes, even if negativity attempts to sneak in first thing in the morning and steal your good vibes, you’ve got a surefire method to stop it in its tracks.
Something else that is powerful is creating what I like to call task-shifting rituals. These are rituals that help you to transition from one task to another.
So for instance, I break into a series of 10 quick shoulder rolls followed by ten quick arm swings before any writing session. My mental energy shifts. This exercise releases tension. It tells my brain, it’s time to write now. This ritual gets my brain off any other thoughts and onto the path of creativity.
Out of the Muck
I find that task-shifting rituals like this help to get me out of the grind and muck. My character, Sarah, from Beneath Everything could’ve used some task-shifting rituals to help her escape the rat race sooner. (But, hey, at least she discovered scuba diving! Anytime you get out of your comfort zone, like she did, you get an opportunity to climb out of the muck!)
Anyway, I digressed. See, I still have some things to learn about how to control emotions and stay on track. (smile)
Back to arm swings! Somewhere in the wind that I create with each rotation of my arm, exists a force that expels negative thoughts. I like to imagine that the air circulating within those rotations becomes supercharged with all these cool ions that become the positive catalysts to inspired thoughts.
These task-shifting rituals are also useful for those early morning toe stubs. Just saying.. In case you’re clumsy like me.
Onto a New Frequency
Task-shifting rituals are an invitation to change gears and get off our current frequency and onto this new one. Some people adopt rituals like drinking only green tea while writing, wearing a particular hat when presenting, or doing neck rolls and yawning at the same time (this works quite well!) when deep in a project. Find a ritual that clicks with you, and form it into a habit that you perform when shifting gears.
Furthermore, rituals are established, predictable, patterned behaviors that structure us. We need structure to achieve goals because it allows for more flow.
And, when we have more flow, we are positively affecting the world around us.
And that’s really the point to living life, isn’t it? Spreading the seeds of inspiration and positivity? You have the opportunity to make this world a better place by the choices you make and the actions you take. What a wonderful purpose to embrace.
What are your rituals?