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How To Control Conflicting Emotions


Unresolved emotions cripple our relationships, our work, our relationships with ourselves and our kids and all we seem to be doing it NOTHING.

Let’s change that.

“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”
Seneca

The secret of how to control your emotions is: not seeing them as a problem and actively feeling them in your body to hear what they have to say. Feeling your emotions will get your mind to the present moment and the conflicting emotions will not be conflicting anymore. 

Let me elaborate

Courage, virtue, character, humility. These are great emotions. Man, I feel proud of myself every time I write about the Stoic ideals of bravery and grandness of soul. That’s easy, but life is never easy. I struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, and cowardice as well. I still feel embarrassed and anxious when I’m at parties and I don’t know anyone. I also get nervous whenever I’m talking to a pretty girl. 

I used to think that, from the Stoic viewpoint, I should’ve been able to control my emotions, to put my will above them. But the truth is that I was never able to do so, I was just hiding them under the rug. Which was a stupid strategy and not Stoic at all. 

The power of emotion

Have you ever heard those stories that tell how a mom lifts up a car to free his son from the crushing metal piercing through his body? 

Where do you think that power comes from? Rationality?

Of course not, it comes from raw, uninhibited emotion. 

We think about shame, guilt, and fear as our enemies, something to be embarrassed about. We tend to think that it is wrong to feel shame about our bodies or life situations. We feel embarrassed about having feelings so we try hide them.

Terrible strategy. Emotion is going nowhere. You ARE emotion. In denying emotion you are literally denying yourself. 

Like our minds, feelings have their purpose. They work wonders if you’d know how to use them. They are not there just to bug you and make you uncomfortable at parties. They are there to help you. They are the doors to authenticity and connection with other people. Out of fear, for example, comes to the mighty force of the mother lifting up a car. Out of shame, comes the possibility of authentic human connection. A connection that is badly needed in our times of “everything is always OK”. 

But, please, please tell me. 

Who the hell wants everything to be “ok” all the time?! That’s boring. 

“I’d rather be myself,” he said. “Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.”
Aldous Huxley

Where Control really is. 

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

― Seneca

Control is in the present moment. Right here, with what you feel right now. It might not feel good, but nevertheless, the feeling doesn’t stop being necessary. There’s no: “when this happens, I’ll feel better”. Nope nothing of that. Nothing of: “I’ll feel good when I’m finished working”. Nothing of that, nada. 

If your goal is to be at peace and in control of your emotions. You can’t run away either from them nor the present moment. However uncomfortable they may be, in them lies the answer, the way for peace. 

YOU DON’T HAVE TO ACT ON THEM. 

Nothing good comes out of going on an angry rampage. 

The secret is to let them be. Don’t try to understand them intellectually. You have to understand them at their level, the level of feeling. 

Think with your heart and feel with your mind. 

Stop running and you’ll realize that you are already there. 

Homework. 

There is a trick. Let’s do it right now. I want you to think about how you are feeling at the moment. Ready? Ok. Now, feel in your body the emotion. Where do you feel it? In your chest? Your stomach? Are your hands cold? Maybe your feet? 

Feel the emotion until it goes away. Don’t fight with it, just feel it. Like a cloud in the sky, it will eventually go away. 

You see we don’t just think with our minds. We think with our whole body. Sit up straight with your shoulders back and you’ll realize that your mood changes instantly. 

Throughout the day. Go into your body, as you talk with people, as you work. Think with your body as well, feel your stomach, feel your heart, your chest. This exercise will inevitably bring you back to the present moment. Whenever you catch yourself just thinking and not feeling do the exercise again and again and again. It will become easier as you develop a relationship with your feelings and emotions again. 

And voila! My friend. You are in control again. 

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I’m always open to suggestions and am happy to answer any questions. stoicanswers@gmail.com

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