In Control

It is possible to control your emotions. We all do that. It is also possible to be controlled by your emotions. We all do that too. We each have a range of emotions that we use regularly, habitually. It is remarkable how we keep ourselves in that range. Even if that range is terribly uncomfortable we remain in the range in complete control of our emotions even as our life may seem to spin out of control. That is not the kind of control that we want or need. We want our range of emotions to include a lot of happy. When we are regularly, consistently happy some of the time or most of the time every day, we have a secure base from which we can explore those emotions that come to us to challenge our control.

The first step in gaining control of your emotions is to see that you are already in control. If you cannot see it, then imagine it. When an emotion comes along uninvited, try to ride it like a wild horse. In a rodeo, the horse will buck and try to throw its rider. Even if it succeeds, it is still contained by the fences. If you feel like you are not able to ride the horse, then be the fence. When you are the fence you are in control of the horses, bulls, clowns and anything else that wanders into your corral.

Another way to look at emotional control is to imagine driving a car. When you are driving a car, you are in control to some extent, but you can’t just drive to where you want to go. You have to stay on the roads. You have to react to the traffic lights and changing conditions. You can turn the wheel, change lanes, go faster or slower and feel wonderfully in control. That is enough control. That’s what you get. With emotions you can still get to where you want to go by taking the available roads and reacting to the changing conditions.

To exercise control over your range of emotions so that your corral contains plenty of clowns to help distract and direct the wild horses that are bucking about, you need to have confidence that you can handle and tame any emotion that comes your way.  That is how you identify with the fence instead of the rider. That is how you accept and work with the conditions on the highway. When you feel angry against your will, grab ahold of the anger. Take your foot off the accelerator. See that you are in the process of creating the emotional range that is causing you distress. You are in control, just not the control you want.

Practice watching your range of emotions as a whole, watch each emotion as it happens, and watch each thought that spurs on the emotion. By watching, you will learn to move your range to where you need to go. Conditions will change and push the range, but you are in control. You can drive to a giant pasture where no fences are needed, where even the wildest horses are just grazing peacefully.

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