Emotions are feelings that can’t and shouldn’t be controlled — they are naturally occurring. When something hurts me, I feel hurt or angry. When joy drops in for a visit, I’m stoked. It’s human to feel certain ways about certain things, and it’s harmful — even fatal — to suppress those feelings (I for one should know).
Attitude, on the other hand, is the one thing I can and should control. Someone hurts me, I feel hurt — but how do I choose to face that pain? Do I strike out in torrents of rage? Recoil and slump down in fear?
With the right attitude, I can have high quality experiences in the face of any kind of emotional experience, even (the most) painful ones.
What’s a good way to control attitude?
Self-observation, or meditation. When you look at yourself this way, you call forward the non-biased, non-judgmental observer witness within. This witness steps in and whispers, “How am I acting or thinking in this situation?”
My impulses often ignore the witness with countless techniques and unchecked emotions. But to listen to the witness for even a second is profound enough.
Another super helpful thing I stumbled upon recently is the art of surrender. I’ve been putting a lot of (negative) energy into various parts and people in my life and it’s been draining the vitality out of me — like my computer breaking down or getting angry at the same people for the same thing over and over and over. It’s tiring, it hurts, it’s costly.
So I just declare: “I surrender any and all control I think I have over this situation and leave it to the great mystery of the universe to work itself out.”
Seems to be working. Baby steps.