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A Guide to Controlling Your Emotions

Controlling our emotions can be difficult. Anger and sadness are especially hard to contain and not take out on other people. Biet Simkin, author of DON’T JUST SIT THERE!, shares his advice on controlling your emotions. 

The Buddha once said, “You throw swords—falling in my silence they become flowers.” Sounds peaceful, right? Sometimes, though, you’re too busy throwing swords to stay silent. Upset by what someone says, you lash out. Threatened, you say cruel or nasty words hurting ones you love. Words really can cut like swords, can’t they? It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Above this law, silence is golden. In fact, using a simple toolkit, you can learn to hold your tongue and transmute being upset with others into a deep, pure calm. In other words, you can turn swords into flowers. How do you practice this kind of calm? See that you sometimes do hold ill will toward others. It’s true. You do! You’re also going to have to admit that when you yell at someone, or get cruel, it hurts him and you. This can be a bit of a stretch for some; it can be so easy to justify what we do or say. “Well, I’m right anyway” you may think, or “It felt good to get that out.” Also, “He deserved it.” As long as you wield nasty emotions as a net positive in your life, you won’t be willing to stop. If that’s the case, ask for willingness to set aside the old mind-set and try on a new one.

Would you rather be happy or right? If you choose happy, the first work is to simply observe when you fly off the handle. That’s it! It sounds weird, but initially you don’t need to try to stop saying fucked-up things to the ones you love. Just observe when you do. This is actually great news, since you can’t just force quit emotional instincts. So, what can you do? Well, you need a tool to slow down runaway emotions, and that’s where meditation comes into play.

When you cultivate a meditative state, you can almost slow down time, spot a negative emotion from miles away, and bat it away with ease. To be clear, I’m not saying you won’t ever feel angry, vindictive, or resentful. What I am saying is you can create a kind of lag time and put your emotions on slo-mo. Visualize what I’m saying via a famous moment in The Matrix: in the hero Neo’s early stages of consciousness training inside a computer simulation, he slows down bullets shot at him to a slow speed where he can see them coming, then dodge. Bullets. Swords. It’s really all the same, isn’t it?

To put the same kind of space between you and unpleasant emotions, a daily practice is vital. When you meditate regularly, you put deposits of calm and stillness into a kind of spiritual reserve you can draw on in an upset moment. In that moment, too, breathe in through the nose and let your breath expand to hit the ribs. Silently repeat a calming mantra or prayer in real time, even as you sit across from a colleague, client, or kid. Ask, “Thy will be done.” Or simply change the topic. Using these tools, you’ll be able to disappear tidal waves of emotion so they don’t crash into you and splash others.

Discover new ways to control your emotions in DON’T JUST SIT THERE! by Biet Simkin!

For more on controlling your emotions…

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For more yoga tips: 10 Minute Yoga Practice for Cleansing

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Excerpted from Don’t Just Sit There! by Biet Simkin. Copyright © 2019 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Photo by Robin Benzrihem on Unsplash.

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