As humans, we deal with countless emotions daily and some of them can change our mood and that affects our thoughts and our behavior. To better understand why this is happening and how to control our emotions, we need to understand what triggers them.
Are we in complete control over our emotions? Not quite, but we can control our thoughts about those emotions and this might be the game changer here. How many times did you get mad because you thought someone gave you a strange look? How about when you remembered something embarrassing? Or furthermore, how many times did you got excited when thinking about something in the future and when you got to that point, you felt… meh? All our emotions are triggered by our thoughts, to be exact, by our interpretation of that situation. So when we get mad, we are not getting mad because someone gave us a strange look, we’re getting mad because that’s how we are interpreting that person’s look. If we think that it’s something bad about us, we get mad.
The same principle applies about our good feelings. When we get excited, that’s because we think about that situation to be good for us. That’s why some people get excited about a situation and others don’t even it’s the same situation. It’s all about how we’re seeing that particular situation so if we can control the way we think about something, we control how we feel about that particular something.
In theory it all looks great, but in reality we can’t even control our thoughts, at least, not all of them. There are some called automatic thoughts (maybe most of them). They are called automatic because we can’t control them and therefore, we can’t control our feelings. The best way to deal with those is to counter them with conscious thoughts, thoughts that we want to have in that situation. This implies monitoring the thoughts we have so we can control which one can have an influence over us.
How can we decide which thought is the best suited for that situation? One way would be to look for alternatives (for example, instead of thinking that someone is giving us a strange look because that person has something against us, we might think that he or she is in some sort of pain, like a migraine or maybe their shoes are too tight). The more alternatives we can find, the more control we have over feelings and therefore, over ourselves.
Obviously, what we think might not be real…a person can actually give us a strange look because he or she has something against us, but… should we care?