Do you take your emotions seriously? Do they grab you and toss you around?
Do you sometimes feel like you are being manipulated by a great emotion-puppeteer who pulls your strings?
Strong emotions have an immediacy and power that are hard to ignore. And compounding their power is the related (and peculiar) memory impairment they cause.
Emotions are like the wind
When you’re feeling bereft, it’s almost impossible to remember that the hour or the day or the week before, you felt great, even though not much changed. And then, when an hour later you feel fine again, you can hardly imagine that you felt so bad.
I’ve been thinking that emotions are like the wind. They are changeable and immediate and often ebb and flow without apparent rhyme or reason.
One day, not many months ago, my daughter, Carla, called. I could hear her distress in her voice. I wished there was something I could do. And grasping for straws, I suggested that she think of her emotions as though they were the winds blowing through her house.
Some days passed with no word. But then the phone rang. It was Carla. “Mom,” she said, “a breeze just blew through my house.” And I could tell from her voice that she felt better.
The wind of her emotions had changed directions and she was happy again.
Of course, the wind will blow this way and that, for my daughter, for me, and for you too.
Poet Jane Hirschfeld’s little poem, captures it with simple elegance.
It was like this:
You were happy again, then you were sad,
Then happy, then not.
Perhaps that’s how we know we’re alive.
Notice your emotions as they ebb and flow
The next time you’re gripped by a strong emotion, imagine it not as a permanent resident of your being, but as a breeze blowing through. I’ve found that even just thinking about that image makes me feel less at their mercy.
How do you keep from being at the mercy of your emotions? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.