Not even the negative inner monologue. You're doing a wonderful job so far. You've already made a difference by making the decision to learn to master your emotions, understanding what they are, how they affect your lifestyle and what you can do to make a change for the better. The next strategy is going to focus on how you can sidestep your emotional triggers by changing your emotions and using them to help you grow instead. School undermines their innocent preformal thinking and imaginative engagement with things, seeking to replace it with formal thinking. Doctors and psychologists stress the benefits of maintaining friendships and relationships as we age. These enhance our well-being and longevity, while preventing loneliness. The individuation process enables you to be more selective in this area. You can let go of superficial friendships while investing only in those which are important to you. It is often said that older people are less capable of maintaining friendships than the young, and even less adept at initiating new relationships. However, research shows that this belief is ill-founded. Apparently, our emotional-social intelligence (ESI) improves as we age. 3 Emotional competency tends to decrease between young adulthood and middle adulthood, but increases again in later life. 4 In the past you hadn't been able to decipher the cryptic message written for you. This is why being resilient is an uncanny craft; you have to develop the capacity to make sense of the mayhem and find reason in the chaos. Even if you can learn the tiniest bit of new knowledge on your weakest days, you will become more resilient. Once you are able to do this, you will develop the attitude that your defeats happen for you and not to you. When you truly believe that the mental toughness gods are working for your benefit and instead of against you, you'll never feel completely discouraged when your plan to conquer adversity fails.
It is through the pain that fate tries to communicate with you. Your job is to gather up the pieces, put the information back together and find the lesson that was created for you. By finding the good in the bad, it will not only give the pain meaning but it'll push you to go on. Having this ability to reframe any disappointment into a positive learning experience is how you can bounce back from any setback or major struggle. Beginning with the first petty annoyance, imagine it so that you experience it all over again, and then capture this annoyance in your fist. Stow it in your center. Leave it there to fester and ferment. When you're ready, unleash it. Use it to its fullest. Bleed the storage tank dry. Leave nothing behind. Expel it totally. If you see positive effects, work through that list and start in on the legitimate angers. Each can be a very effective fuel source when you need a big rebound. Just enjoy it, said John, slurping noodles noisily from a bowl. It won't last. * He made a good point. Our foreign tour was due to end in a few months, and we would be going somewhere else--possibly back to the States. Although it might be a relief to be back on familiar turf, I didn't want to look back on our time in Hong Kong and remember nothing but fighting: with motherhood, with the expatriate bubble, with my own work, and with the man I loved who just wanted me to be happy.
Hey, I said to the top of John's head, I'm really glad I'm here with you. He looked up from his bowl. Me, too, he said, gazing at me with the warm, guileless brown eyes I fell in love with. Don't you want anything? Change is something that rarely ever comes easy. When you're trying to change what is part of your personality, the very thing that makes you human, and something that has been part of your life for so long, it's going to be even more of a challenge. That's okay, because the best things in life are the things which are worth fighting and struggling for, and in this case, learning how to master your emotions is something you're going to fight for because it promises you a much better life. A happier life, not just for you, but for the people you love. Emotional triggers will always be there because you don't exist in this world alone. You constantly have to interact with people, and even find yourself in situations that are less than ideal. It is bound to happen every now and then. These factors are sometimes beyond your control, but there is something that you can control. You can control how you decide to respond. You can make a conscious effort to change your emotions, although it will take a lot of willpower to resist the urge to rise to the occasion and succumb to the temptation to react to what's provoking you. ESI is a holistic combination of wisdom, emotion and social skills. When we go through the individuation process, we become more aware of what we are looking for in friendships. In addition, we become more sensitive to the feelings and needs of our friends. The new cognitive competence we gain as we age increases our social skills. We become more generous, considerate and forgiving, and more able to let go of anger. These skills can help us renew friendships which had been cut short because of past hurts.
Our new sensitivity to social situations enables us to reconsider the personal significance of these friendships, allowing us to realize that we truly miss our former friends. We also gain the ability to assess whether a new acquaintance can become a friend, and then initiate such friendships. We now possess the social tools to befriend people across different age brackets. Such friendships will enrich us as we come to share part of their world, widening the scope of our interests, horizons and involvement in society. Once you hone this skill of finding the lessons in your losses, you won't feel like you're running into a brick wall as much. They'll just feel like minor inconvenience instead. By converting hurtful setbacks into temporary stumbling blocks, you'll be able to gather up your steam and jump headfirst back into the challenge to annihilate the fuck out of it. Now, mind you, striking back once may or not topple the adversity. Most likely, it won't. Expect this pattern of making gains, running into more barriers, recovering and then feeling like you are losing to repeat itself over and over again. But staying in the fight and enduring the struggle is a sign that you are still very much alive in the game of the last one standing wins. It just takes a never-say-die attitude and tons of action to eventually take down the once ever mighty adversity. This ability to stay with the ups and downs of chasing down an obstacle is the heart of what resilience is. All those mental toughness gurus will tell you that after feeling defeated from an obstacle, you need to come up with a viable plan, break down your actions and take smaller steps toward the challenge. This strategy isn't for everyone. If you can't effectively place your anger in your center, or if anger makes you tense key muscle groups, try the approach I used with Jeff Lee. He was a senior at the University of Oklahoma who hadn't won a college golf tournament since he was on the national championship team as a freshman. Jeff was a kid with a lot of talent. He couldn't put it into play, his coach told me, because he was perpetually one stroke away from exploding. I saw this for myself when I observed him anonymously in tournament play;
I also saw why: When Jeff crouched down to line up his putt, there on the other side of the flag, in his line of sight, stood his father, arms folded, eyes locked on his son. When Jeff missed the putt, his father threw a tantrum--and so did Jeff. I tried to perform a fatherectomy. But since there was no way to do that expeditiously, I coached Jeff on the recovery strategy, with one deviation: Every time he marked his ball on the green and picked it up for the putt, I wanted him to channel some anger into the ball--squeeze it as hard as he could, first with his left hand, then with his right, shaking out each hand as he finished. he asked plaintively. I totally do, I admitted, letting myself sink back into the pillowed lounge chair. When you go back for thirds, get me one of those tiny little cheeses, please. And a big glass of wine. He smiled, satisfied. As a philosophy of life, John's wasn't so bad: everyone should fully maximize the complimentary buffet. True Elegance was the theme, and the font was thin and looping. No flames this year, but it would again be hundreds of staffers, photo backdrops, and the occasional floor-length gown. Same deal. I, however, was (or should be) a new woman after eleven months of my experiment. It's going to be hard because you're going to have to go against your first instinctive response, to mindfully force yourself to react in a different way. A better way. Those who struggle with their emotions are often unhappier than most, which makes it very hard to hold onto any kind of happiness. When you're in a constant state of unhappiness, learning how to control anything becomes a challenge, let alone learning how to control something as powerful as your emotions. Learning to master your emotions is not just about getting it under control; it is about reconnecting with yourself too and finding your happiness once more.