This year I have been trying to be more mindful and trying to live more intentionally. How has it been going till now? I am discovering so many mindsets and mind-blocks I have. Few of them are:
- This is who I am; I am not a bad person so I don’t have to change!
- My anger is justified, but I am still trying to be the better person here, so how dare he talk to me about my mistakes!!!!
- Why does this keep happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?
- After all the things I did for him, how can he behave or talk in this way to me?
Please note the “him” here refers to my husband 🙂
Maybe you don’t get such petty thoughts when you are angry or wallowing in self-pity or feeling betrayed. But most of us human beings are not perfect. We all have emotions and it sways us everywhere before settling down. Most of us have traveled through that lonely, scary and dark tunnel before we see light in the end. Having these emotions are perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of, it’s the regulation of our reactions to these emotions that we need to be aware of and also work on.
Why is having a negative emotion ok but not our reactions to it?
Our reactions like crying, smiling or even screaming is a way of dealing with emotions and if we get carried away with reacting to our emotion, it tends to grow without restraint and then we could end up hurting ourselves and others. We can’t control how we feel but we can control how we make others feel. And also sometimes we need to save ourselves from our emotion’s onslaught on our psyche.
Recently we (husband and I) had been to our daughter’s pediatrician and we forgot our cards at home. Luckily we had some cash on us, but it still was an ugly scene. A lot of words were exchanged and both of us were disappointed in the other person and each felt we couldn’t depend on the other. My emotions were all over the place and I tried crying to make myself feel better but I still wasn’t pacified. My brain was revolting and wanted revenge. I wanted him to feel as bad as I was feeling. Looking back I still feel all my emotions were justified (and my husband felt the same)but if my husband or I had acted upon our emotions to make each other suffer through words or other petty actions I don’t think our fight would have resolved easily or my trust and respect for him and vice versa would have remained intact.
So what is the secret to regulating your emotions? What will give you the peace to a better and healthy life in this ever busy and reactive world?
The secret ingredient
FORGIVENESS! That’s the secret ingredient to all power packed problems in our lives.
This one word can liberate us from the pricking shackles of emotions and also gives great “compound effects” at a later point of time.
The compound effect is basically a term coined Darren Hardy in his book “The Compound Effect” and it means the strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions in our present.
Forgiveness might sound very trivial to a very peaceful and healthy life but it has the power to heal and build habits to a more progressive and constructive thinking brain.
How? Well, let’s dive into the reasons WHY I recommend FORGIVENESS as the secret ingredient to a better life.
Forgiveness varies from person to person. In the past, during heated arguments with my husband, I have often times said these statements, “I forgave you the last time, but you can’t even give up your ego even once for me?” “I forgive and forgive but you keep on doing the same thing!”
After a lot of introspection, I find that these statements are not exactly the words of a person who has truly forgiven her spouse. These words reek of anger outburst, the exact opposite of what I believe as forgiveness. Did I feel better after saying these words? Did I feel better after portraying myself as a victim? I will have to say NO! It was a downward spiral from that point on. My husband felt I was emotionally blackmailing him while I kept playing the victim card. Most of the times these kinds of arguments leave us feeling mentally exhausted.
Does it all lead us anywhere? No, it doesn’t. True forgiveness has the power to heal us; it has the power to help us move forward to inner peace. We don’t have to be like Po and catch bullets with our hands but I have experienced my moments of true inner peace with my husband and they are what make my marriage blissful.
True Leadership Quality
I feel forgiveness is often not mentioned when it comes to listing different leadership qualities. Who will talk about a quality which is very vague and often misunderstood?
A true leader guides/inspires his people to be their best selves and achieve maximum potential. How can a good leader be able to inspire others if he/she is going to be petty and heavily bent on getting revenge?
Bodily regulations under control
Not letting go off emotions has the power to stress you out, and when stress builds up it automatically affects your Blood pressure. It also can affect your other organs like the respiratory system (hyperventilation), our endocrine system (which could lead to both mental and physical conditions in the future), Gastrointestinal systems (Leading to heartburns, etc.) and even our mental health (depression).
According to WHO Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. As per the “2018 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey – Future Assured” survey conducted by Cigna TTK Health Insurance, 9 out of 10 Indians suffer from stress. Stress is a direct result of not being able to move forward or in other words “Forgiving” ourselves or others. We will never understand how all the memories of unsavory experiences can add up slowly and one day it could become life-threatening.
Fighting with our spouses, our children, our parents, siblings, extended family or friends is quite normal and also important to strengthen our relationship with them. But when we forget to forgive them, like everything, the pain will keep on building up until it becomes unbearable to carry on normally.
Forgiving self and others are very important in every relationship. How can you have a healthy relationship with anyone if all it contains is power struggles? Compromising and truly setting yourself free through forgiveness are different things.
The way to Forgiveness – How to Forgive
How do we recover from these emotions? Below are a few techniques that I employ to bring my emotions under control before they get out of hand.
Finding solution together
We really need to have a mindset shift if we want to free ourselves from our raging emotions.
Take deep breaths and chant this mantra “I am better than you, I can see what will truly make me feel better”
“I am better than you” – This means I am better than my negative emotions and I refuse to bow down to its current powerful hold on my brain. I control every circumstance and not the other way around. I will overcome this temporary phase.
“I can see what will truly make me feel better” – This is to force your brain to bend to your will power and see the big picture. When you are angry your emotions will want something but many times even if you do achieve it at that point in time, it provides momentary relief. The only way to reach a point of peace is through finding the solution. It could be anything. For my husband and I after our argument, we decided together to find out how not have a repeat of the above-mentioned showdown. We discussed:
*Our next to do steps
*Discussed our mindsets which needed to shift
*Finally about the emotions that we felt and how to regulate them positively (you can simply Google to find techniques to help you cool down)
I first truly started thinking about another person’s perspectives/perception after I read Steven R. Covey’s book – “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It’s not that one doesn’t realize another person’s point of view, but we often dismiss them or compare them to our viewpoint. Giving another person the benefit of doubt doesn’t come easily to everyone and why will it? We all have been hurt in different ways in the past and the fear of being hurt always protects us from giving others another chance. Though it might be life-saving when it comes to outsiders, if we can’t place trust in our loved ones, then we truly need to assess our situation.
People keep repeating certain behaviors that irritate us and we don’t understand why it is so difficult for the other person to stop doing what we ask of them. But we underestimate the power of habits. All our minds are different. There is a certain beauty in our differences. But we don’t have the patience to appreciate that in others.
Utilize your best friend
So when we get angry at the other person and hell-bent on hurting them or having a showdown with our loved one. I suggest you try this exercise:
- Close your eyes, take some 2-3 deep breaths
- Just for a few seconds wade through your haze of bitterness and control your anger and think about few traits we love about the other person or think about what will be that one thing that will make you happy to do with that person. Basically, it is an exercise to help you calm down just a tad bit.
- You could also if you have the habit of writing or love the thought of writing, write down in a paper about
- What happened?
- What was the other person’s fault?
- How the entire episode made u feel?
- What you want to tell that person?
- And what will give you peace?
This exercise has never let me down even once.
One of my most powerful tools, which always comes to my rescue! I have a subscription to the Calm app and whenever I feel a particular emotion I just go through the hundreds of guided meditations to find the one which applies the most to my current mood and as the app’s name suggests, I calm myself.
You can also achieve this without any subscription by searching online for some guided meditation to lower the effect of your stressful emotions. These days you have so much help online to live a more peaceful and better life.
Many of us are punishing ourselves by not letting go of our turbulent emotions. We all deserve to be kind to ourselves. We scheme and scheme thinking we will somehow gain that invisible upper hand over our adversary but in reality, we are binding ourselves tighter to that chair till there is very little chance of escape.
There is no short cut to practicing the art of forgiving. Sometimes time is our ally and other times through mind-full techniques we can truly bring peace and contentment into our lives. Whether it is a short life or a long one, everyone wants happiness. And happiness can be found in the little and big things around us. And it can be found only if you have a peaceful mind.
“Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace”
-Jonathan Lockwood Huie