Do Your Emotions Control You?

I’ve learned recently by paying attention to my body, that how I feel on any given day has a lot to do with the mysterious chemical soup inside my body. Some of it I have control over, such as the food I eat or whether I’ve gotten enough sleep, but there is much I don’t have control over. Hormones and other brain chemicals may make me feel any number of things such as sad, aggravated, loving, happy, content, hungry, in need of affection, in need of alone time, quiet, gregarious, and so on.

The key here is that these feelings are not triggered by EVENTS. They are triggered by internal chemicals. (Events can trigger feelings too, but I’m talking about waking up with a particular feeling and with no event triggering it.)

So what happens to a lot of us if we wake up feeling sad, for instance? What I have noticed is that we tend to FIND an event or circumstance to plug-in to that emotion. “Why do I feel this way? Oh yeah, I don’t have a boyfriend.� But yesterday you were happy to be single and independent.

The problem with plugging in an event or circumstance into every feeling we have is it doesn’t allow the emotion to just be and then pass along. We often prolong emotions by doing this. Now if it is a positive emotion then maybe that’s ok.

So what is the answer?

If you wake up with a negative emotion or even if it strikes you mid-afternoon, consider first whether it could be from your internal chemistry. Maybe you’re tired or hungry or both. Maybe certain hormones are on an upswing or downswing. If so, take a brief break – even five minutes- to close your eyes, breathe deeply and calm your mind with either visualization or a simple mantra.

This can also save you from making a relationship mistake. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend is really not a match for you and you know it. You procrastinate about breaking up and wait for the next flood of good emotions to hit, thus proving to yourself that it is the right thing to give this person another chance. If someone does not mesh well with your values in life, then save yourself some heartache down the line by breaking it off and finding someone who is right for you.

Recognize that the negative emotion will pass. Just find a way to take a break or promise yourself a rest as soon as you are able. Don’t dig yourself into a deeper hole by piling events and circumstances onto a chemically triggered emotion.

If your emotion does relate to an event or circumstance, ask yourself it might be exacerbated by internal chemicals. If so, wait to take action if you can. If not, then identify the problem, brainstorm solutions and breakdown the best solution into chunks that you can complete bit by bit.

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