Your emotions are tools. They can be a hammer to build a house or tear one down. Every emotion has a productive use, but it is up to you to apply them appropriately. The misapplication of emotion creates a chain reaction of chaotic events within yourself and in the people around you. In the worst cases, you create a feedback loop of inappropriate emotions. Emotion builds between everyone involved, keeping them trapped in a harmful interpretation. You get inappropriately angry about something, which makes everyone around angry about your anger, and the closed loop sustains itself. Your priority is to break free and act with purpose.
Ignore anyone who tells you to deny your emotions. It is never wise to run from something simply because you do not understand it. The problem is lack of familiarity, lack of knowledge. Investigate your emotions. Inspect them so that you may understand why you respond to things the ways you do. Only when you get close to your emotions can you begin to permanently alter them to a more useful state.
If any of your emotions, positive or negative, overwhelm you, it means you have not mastered them. When you conquer their influence, you will be able to harness them for specific goals. Each emotion will have a purpose again in your life. Each is the result of millions of years of evolutionary cognitive development. Each is a gift you should not waste. You are so used to wasting or denying them that you cannot see their function. The wrong emotion overtakes you at the wrong moment because you haven’t learned how to apply them. Now, you can begin to look at familiar emotions with new eyes.
Negative emotions often carry the most important function of all. That is why we remember pain more than pleasure, and insults affect us more than compliments. Sadness is pain directed inward to yourself. It promotes deep self-reflection when you feel that you are somehow inadequate. Dwelling on mistakes helps you learn what went wrong so you don’t needlessly repeat them. It gives you incentive to succeed and avoid the repeated pain of future failure. Only through deep reflection on the source of your sadness can you naturally move past it and carry on with your life in a higher state of ability.
Anger, being pain distributed outward, is a powerfully targeted emotion. It brings urgency to a task and focus to a mission. Only to tap into the power of anger, you must learn how to hone it, or else risk it spilling over into blind rage. Harnessing anger, for a short time, is incredibly potent for the goal-oriented person. As you examine your anger, simply ask yourself why something outside of yourself has the power to bring you to such a fiery state. The answer to this question is what determines whether the external source is controlling you or empowering you. Then you have to use that power.
Passion is what happens when you are fully engaged with what you are doing. You learn how to ride the changing waves of emotions and use each as needed. The great trap is getting addicted to certain emotional shifts, never being able to settle back into neutrality. When you realize that the purpose of any emotion is to correct your behavior and bring you back to neutral, you appreciate more the empty space of resolution. You are grateful for all your emotions when they work to correct the various imbalances brought about by your experiences.
Do not let happiness blind you. The emotional reward of joy comes to us when we have done something to earn it. Those who preach that you should be happy in every situation do not understand the importance of context and spectrum. They squander the motivational power of positive feelings. When everything is positive, incentive is dulled. A man’s great power is neutered because he has nothing to strive toward. It is no accident that the most perpetually happy are also the most idle, and those who accomplish the greatest deeds have spent a lifetime dwelling intently in their capacity for suffering.
Emotions cease to serve you when they linger too long between moments, well after the inciting agent has passed. When you aren’t fluid with your emotions, the wrong tool gets applied in the wrong situation. Emotions themselves are blamed, when in reality they were just misapplied by an unskilled master. Any tool is only as effective as the person using it. Master when to access your emotional repertoire and when to relinquish access. You will become far more effective in everything you ever do.
Make emotion your ally by knowing its role. Understand how to apply it so that you can work congruently with your environment, not against it. When you see that some emotions recur too often and occupy too much space in your mind, ask yourself how you have been trained to feel this way. Pay less attention to the cacophony within you, and more to what your environment truly demands. Structure the noise into music that matches the terrain. Otherwise, you are not experiencing reality. You are living out a chronic delusion, battling imaginary ghosts and reveling in unearned rewards.
Don’t believe the narrative of other people’s emotions either. Just because they feel something strongly does not obligate you to match them where they are. Resist their temptation by being the stronger emotional influence. They may hate you for not validating what they believe they are right to feel. Let them meet you in neutrality when they are ready to give up their addictions. It is imperative that you do not allow them to become detriments to your growth. Every exceptional person knows when to sacrifice what he has for the sake of his own existence.
When you are free from the slavery of your own emotions, you can focus on developing your strengths. You can begin to act with clarity and purpose.