Can You Control Your Feelings?

by | Feb 21, 2017

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

I was facilitating my small group coaching meeting last week, and we were talking about strength. Not physical strength, but the mental strength to show up how you want. To be in control of your attitude, energy and emotions.

I had given the example of arriving home after a long frustrating day, and deciding how you want to walk through the door. First everyone was asked to describe their default, and as you might guess it was a lot of walking in and dumping all that negativity on the nearest target, maybe blaming your family for things that aren’t really their fault, and probably having a lousy evening at home. All that good stuff!

I then asked what it would look like if you decided to control how you feel. One of the participants countered with ‘You feel how you feel! You can’t control that.

But what if you CAN?

Here’s the thing being Thoughtfully Fit does not suggest for one second that you won’t still feel a wide range of emotions. You are still going to get frustrated, be angry with others, be disappointed in yourself or those around you. BUT, what you can choose is how you engage with these feelings and respond to them.

I gave an example of where I was caught in traffic with a bunch of (in my humble opinion) terrible, inconsiderate drivers. A busy road was going down to one lane, and then everyone was being forced into a detour. It was a mess. Now, at first I just sat there feeling annoyed at the people who were making choices that were slowing things down even more, and getting increasingly upset that I was going to be late.

But then I paused and thought ‘Well, it is what it is. I need to get across town, so I am just going to be patient.’ I called my appointment to notify them that I’d be late, and then I just sat and waited my turn. I didn’t waste energy on yelling or fuming or banging on my steering wheel. I decided to just sit, and wait and enjoy the music. Was I happy about it? No! But I was okay with it. I didn’t let it get me all worked up over something that was COMPLETELY out of my control.

Funny thing just as I finally got to the front, the policemen directing traffic pulled up all the cones, ended the detour and waved us on through. I like to think that the universe was rewarding me for my calm and patience!!

It’s your choice!

My point is we do get to choose how we feel! We can’t always choose to be happy, but we can be in charge of how much emotional energy we are going to spend on any particular event. We can choose to stay calm when someone else is losing their mind. We can choose to walk through the door carrying all that negativity, or we can try to let some of that go until tomorrow and show up ready to be present with our families. And guess what sometimes you’re allowed to choose to wallow in whatever you are feeling, and decide to be a big person later! Your choice.