Do we have the ability to control our own emotions?

So many people are full of anger towards others, they scream and shout and say nasty things and when questioned about their behaviour blame the other person for how they feel.  The thing is no one else has the ability to control your emotions.  You may find something that someone else says as triggering to your emotions but the fact of the matter is that how you react is based on your own thoughts and feelings about yourself or on something that has happened previously in your own life.  If I call you a name, why do you become upset by it?  Perhaps it is because you believe it to be true and so it hurts you, perhaps it is because people in your past bullied you and so it triggers old feelings in you, perhaps it is because you care about others opinion of you.

However, we are in control of our own lives.  If we know we are good people and that the things that are said to us are untrue we can instead shrug off cruel words or nasty comments because we know that the other person’s behaviour and cruel words actually reflect on them.  It says more about them than it does us, it says they have no control over themselves, they are unable to act like decent human beings, they lose control of their own emotions and attack others because of that loss of control.  They are not thinking rationally or able to think with the intellectual side of their brain.  They are unable to reason and so resort to name calling.  When someone does this, in my eyes they have lost any argument they were trying to win and instead make themselves look foolish and out of control.

I guess what I am saying is we can not always control our emotions but we can certainly control our actions.  We might feel angry but we can choose to act inappropriately on that anger or we can choose to slow down and think before we act.  We can remind ourselves of who we are as a person and what is really important to us.  We can perhaps question why we really feel so upset or angry and then internally address our own issues.  We can in fact learn by each emotion we have whether it be negative or positive.  We can attempt to turn any negative feeling in to a positive outcome.

Yesterday someone asked a question about fast food establishments and I responded in the best way I knew how at the time.  I pointed out that the huge corporations really had no care for the customers or the staff that work for them.  That they simply cared about their own income and as long as people continued to spend money with them, then they had no reason to change.  That if they really cared about their customers they would be changing the food they serve so that people weren’t risking heart disease and obesity because of their product.

Well the person asking the question became upset by my answer and instead of listening to what was being said he saw it as an attack on him personally.  My answer had nothing to do with him it was simply about the fast food establishment!  So the guy lost his rag with me and started calling me all sorts of terrible names that would have hurt someone else.  But I chose not to allow it to upset me and continued to attempt to explain myself to him without becoming angry at his treatment of me.  The more I said the more angry he became till eventually all that was spewing out of his mouth was angry insults at me and name calling.  And on top of his inappropriate reaction he tried to blame me for his behaviour and abusiveness!

Now the thing is, I know that he is now out of control and in fact this has been going on for 3 days and will most likely continue.  He now views me as a target for all his anger.  I don’t feel upset by this because I know that the things he is saying are not true and that he is just making himself look like someone who has no ability to act reasonably, that he shows no accountability for his own behaviour and that he has no self control.  I also know that I am not to blame for his anger, I know that nothing I said was negative towards or about him and that he has no reason to take offence from what I said.

Obviously he is offended by something I said, but it is something he has read in to my words that was not there.  He has some internal issue about the subject at hand where by what I said triggered some insecurity he has within himself.  But his insecurity is something he has not shared with me, it is not something I can avoid or help with.  His trigger has nothing to do with me, it is about him and his own experiences in life that I know nothing of, and it is something that he has a responsibility to himself to resolve.  He can choose to go around for his whole life feeling angry at everyone else and blaming everyone else for how he feels and then not controlling his behaviour and becoming abusive and aggressive or he can choose to address his issues and in the mean time control his actions.

He also attacked someone else who pointed out that he had no right to be abusive to people (it wasn’t just me he was abusive to but everyone that answered his question in a way he didn’t like), and instead of thinking about what she said he became more abusive telling her how stupid she was.  Saying how he was angry and had every right to be angry because no one answered his question and how he was sure she gets angry sometimes too unless she had some magic ability to control how she feels.  Well of course she gets angry as do I, as I’m sure everyone does.  But we don’t all choose to go out and react to our own anger by being abusive to other people around us!

What he failed to understand was that lots of people answered his question, they just didn’t give him the answer HE wanted.  That doesn’t make any of them stupid or deserving of abuse, they simply have a different opinion and perspective about fast food than he does.  None of the people were rude or abusive to him when answering, they simply offered their own opinion.  He also failed to realise that the way he was behaving was wrong and that those people deserve to be treated like fellow human beings, although the funny thing was that he claimed he was a victim because his fellow human beings couldn’t even answer the question he asked.  I figured he had a nerve to refer to his ‘fellow human beings’ after the way he was treating them.

I think it’s important for us to remember that how we present ourselves every day of our lives is a reflection of who we are as people.  If we go around shouting and screaming and being aggressive and abusive to others and blaming everyone else for what goes wrong in our lives then we show that we lack any kind of self control or accountability for our own behaviour.  We also never learn by mistakes and therefore our lives will never improve.

If we go around treating others with respect as a matter of course then regardless of how we feel inside we show that we are good people who are in control of our own lives, that we are able to act reasonably and think intellectually.  Being able to do this is also the first step to slowing down and not acting on impulse, this will give us the ability when we feel down to find a way to address the problem.  We can look for solutions, perhaps it might be reaching out to someone and telling them how we feel and talking about it.  Perhaps it might be validating our own feelings and what we’ve been through, perhaps it might be finding understanding people around us and getting rid of toxic ones.  It might even be choosing to go and do something fun or relaxing to distract.   We can move forwards and improve our lives when we are able to accept that we are accountable for our own actions and behaviour.

By this method we can begin to take full control of our own lives and it’s only another few steps from that thinking that we can begin to achieve everything in our lives we always wanted, that we can realise our dreams and mould our lives in to what we want it to be.

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