How to Better Control Your Emotions

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By becoming aware of your emotions in the Earth school — anger, fear, love, and more — you can begin the process to heal. From The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness, by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis

Imagine a boy who sells newspapers on a city corner, holding the latest edition above his head and shouting the headline. That is what happens when you experience an emotion. The more important the headline is, the stronger the emotion is. Keeping current with the news is something that you have to decide to do, but the newspaper boy is always shouting the latest headline.

The next day, he will be waiting for you with another headline. When you turn on your television, it will show you the same headline. You can turn off the television and cancel your subscription to the newspaper, but you cannot turn off or cancel your emotions. Even if you are not aware of your emotions, they are always being produced inside you. The energy that flows through your energy system never stops, and your energy system never stops functioning.

Each emotion has different characteristics. Anger disappears more quickly than jealousy. The need for revenge is more persistent than jealousy. Some emotions come more frequently than others, and some stay longer than others. This flow of emotions is like a shower. The shower of your emotions continues until you leave the Earth school — until you die. It is a flow that never stops, whether you pay attention to it or not. You may daydream for a while, but sooner or later you wake up in the shower.

Your emotions always return, too. Each time they show you where and how energy is being processed in your energy system. When you understand that system, you will know why you are experiencing an emotion and how you can change it, if you want to change it.

Your emotional landscape is unique, just as your body, aptitudes, and interests are unique. It is like your fingerprint, except that it is more familiar because you experience it continually. It is so familiar that you might think that everyone’s emotional landscape is like yours. That is not correct.

You may become angry easily, another person may become frightened, and yet another may become jealous. You may shout when you are angry. Some people withdraw and become silent. Some people are frightened to be alone. They need to be in the company of others to feel safe. Some people are frightened when they are with others. They need to be alone to feel safe. Some people need to talk. They become frightened when they are silent. Others need to listen. They become frightened when they speak.

As you become aware of your emotions, you also become aware of your curriculum in the Earth school. In other words, the emotions in your emotional landscape are your particular course of study in the Earth school. Everyone in the Earth school takes the same course — authentic power — but different students need to take different classes in order to complete it.

Every painful emotion is a class. If you are angry, you are in that class. If you are jealous, you are in that class. If you are angry and jealous, you are in both classes. Not every class on anger is the same, and not every class on jealousy is the same. Becoming emotionally withdrawn when you are angry is one class. Becoming bossy and loud when you are angry is another. Every healthy emotion, such as appreciation, gratitude, contentment, and joy, is also a class. There are different ways of experiencing each of these emotions, too, and each of them is yet another class.

The Earth school has more classes than can be printed in a catalog. You do not need to take all of them. You are automatically enrolled in certain classes when you enter the Earth school—when you are born. You graduate from a class when you understand what you need to know about that particular emotion. When you complete your assigned classes, you are given the opportunity to choose other classes. For example, you are allowed to enroll in the joy class after you have completed the anger and jealousy classes. You may have glimpses of the joy class before you graduate from the anger and jealousy classes, but you will not be able to study joy full-time until you do. You are allowed to enroll in the gratitude class after you have completed the sadness class, and so on.

There are two types of classes in the Earth school — classes about fear and classes about love. Anger, vengefulness, sadness, and greed are classes about fear. Joy and gratitude are classes about love. When you begin to see your emotions in this way, all of the circumstances that you encounter in your life will become meaningful to you. You begin to look at them all as circumstances that are perfect for bringing your attention to inner dynamics that you need to examine and change. These are your painful emotions.

LIST YOUR CLASSES
Take some time to look inside yourself and see what classes you are enrolled in (for example, anger, sorrow, jealousy, rage, fear, vengefulness, resentfulness, appreciation, gratitude, contentment, joy, etc.).

Make a list. Notice whether these classes are about fear or about love. If you are brave enough, do this with a friend.

Your emotions become the focus of your attention, not the people or circumstances that appear to be causing your emotions. Instead of being angry at an individual or circumstance — or depressed, jealous, or frightened — be grateful that they have brought particular emotions to your attention. Instead of trying to change circumstances or people, examine the emotions you are experiencing.

These emotions come from inside you, not from outside. They come as old friends. You may think that your anger is justified, but if you look at your anger instead of the injustice that you think causes it, you will see that your anger is very familiar. You have felt the same way at other times and in other places with other people in other circumstances. The times, places, people, and circumstances change, but your anger does not. Nor does your sadness, vengefulness, or fear.

When you make this connection you are in a position to change your life. You cannot change all of the people that make you angry, jealous, or sad, but you can change yourself. When you know how to do that, how other people speak or act is not as important to you as how you respond to them. Trying to change others when you are angry is the same as trying to change your reflection in a mirror. You can rage at your reflection as long as you wish, but until you change what is being reflected, your rage will not leave.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
—Rumi

The Essential Rumi, Coleman Barks, trans. (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), p. 109.

Looking inward instead of focusing on outward circumstances is an important step in the process of spiritual development. When you take it you begin the process of shifting your goal from the pursuit of external power — the ability to manipulate and control — to the pursuit of authentic power — the alignment of your personality with your soul.

Imagine yourself as a student. You are in a school that is always in session. You have a special tutor who ensures that you are taught exactly what you need to learn. The tutor takes into account what you already know and what you have accomplished previously. Your tutor is patient, wise, and compassionate. You choose how quickly or slowly you will learn. Your tutor works intimately with you, and utilizes every one of your decisions to provide experiences that offer you the greatest potential to move forward in your education.

BE A STUDENT
Every morning when you wake up, remind yourself that you are a student in the Earth school, and that everything that happens this day is to help you learn.

Every night go over all the things that happened in school. Did you remember that you were in school? How often did you remember? What classes did you attend today? (Anger, joy, jealousy, sorrow, etc.)

The Universe is your tutor. Your classroom is your life. Everything that happens within it is part of your custom-crafted curriculum. You cannot fail this school. Sooner or later you will graduate from it. You can ignore your assignments, and take the same classes as many times as you choose. You can also apply yourself and accelerate your process.

By becoming aware of your emotions, you wake up as a student in the Earth school. You have been a student in the Earth school since you were born. Your emotions show you what to work on next. Your task as a student in the Earth school is not to change your parents, boss, employees, or classmates. It is to change yourself.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Gary Zukav is the author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, The Seat of the Soul, Thoughts from the Seat of the Soul, and Soul Stories. His books have sold more than five million copies and are published in twenty-four languages. He is a graduate of Harvard and a former U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) officer with Vietnam service. Linda Francis is a cofounder of Genesis: The Foundation for the Universal Human and spiritual partner with Gary Zukav. They are the authors of The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness (Copyright © 2001 by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis).

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