“Happy” Feels so much Better than “Mad!”

Is Marriage Encounter still around?  It was a very big deal in our area in the 1970’s, and something I learned during the weekend Hubby and I spent there changed my life.

In case it’s still around and some of you might attend sometime, I won’t tell you too much about it (it really was a worthwhile weekend), but I do want to share with you something important I learned that weekend — about managing your emotions.

Mama firmly believed and said many times, “I can’t help how I feel.”  So, of course, that’s what I believed.  Well, at Marriage Encounter they told me something I’d never heard before, “Your emotions are  a decison.”

Wow!  That was a concept I had never, ever thought about!  I could control my emotions?  Well, it was worth a try — because I was a very emotional person, and not always in a good way.  I was verrrry thin skinned with feelings that were hurt “at the drop of a hat.”  I remember one time, in a moment of self-analysis saying, “I feel like I’m thrashing my way through the ‘sea of life,’ most of the time, against the current.”  I made life very intense for myself and everyone around me.

So, that was the beginning of a long (and continuing) road to a happier me.  Once I embraced that concept, I found out that I could actually change how I felt by what I thought.  I came to realize that my old pattern in relationships had been to tend to assume the worst motivations for what others did or said.  With my new mind set, I could actually feel myself lighten up when I applied this theory and remembered to put a positive spin on other’s words or actions.

So, if you are like the old me and have always believed that “you can’t help how you feel,”  I’d like to pass on that little tip that changed my life all those years ago.  You can help how you feel — by using self-talk!  It doesn’t always work, but it does alot of the time. 

May God bless all of us with the ability to look at others and their motives in the best possible light.

An additional thought that just occurred to me:  Whenever we are angry, who are we mad at, really?  Yes, we would say it is at the situation or the person, but isn’t it really at God?  Aren’t we really angry that God has allowed this to happen to us?  And don’t you think the Devil must love that?  Something to think about. 

6 Responses to “Happy” Feels so much Better than “Mad!”

  1. karen says:

    Wise words indeed!!

    I’ve worked with both violent offenders and ther victims. One of the first things an offender will say to you, is ‘She/he made me so mad’ or ‘She/he was asking for it because the wore this/did this.’ or ‘I couldn’t control myself’.

    Many of them, at first don’t understand the difference between ‘You are making me so angry’ and ‘I’m feeling angry because you did that.’

  2. SBW says:

    Absolutely! In my mind, it’s one of the goals in life to control our emotions. It’s how we are supposed to mature. It’s very powerful to be in control of our emotions – and it most certainly can be done, and there are cultures where this is valued, expected, and TAUGHT. We aren’t one of those cultures, I don’t think, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t control ourselves. It makes for a much better life, imo.

    The ultimate goal with controlling emotions is to achieve compassion. Some people think that being compassionate is a weakness, but the way I see it, nothing takes more strength and control than feeling compassion.

    This subject touches me, as you can see. I’m not expressing myself well, but I do want to say YES! to being in control of ourselves.

  3. Photo Buffet says:

    Sandra, this is rich. Its so simple, yet so hard when we’re caught in the throes of an emotional situation. I’m so glad you shared it!

  4. Sandra says:

    Karen — In my four years of working at the Jail, I noticed that same “theme” running through the attitudes of many inmates — many times I heard the line, “he/she made me so mad I did it.” I wonder if there aren’t many people who have never been told that their emotions are a decision.

    SBW — Self-talk definitely has made my life more pleasant. And, you’re right, it much easier to be compassionate toward others when you are putting the best spin on their motives.

    Photo Buffet — You are soo right — simple, but hard to do. I have to work at it all the time. But, I’m much happier now, because of this change in outlook.

  5. I think this is called rational-emotive thinking, and I, too, discovered it way back when and have found my life enriched by simply choosing to have a healthy perspective on things. It’s all in how you look at things, isn’t it? Also, I believe that when we are angry, we can always trace it back to hurt. Striking out at others in anger is easier than choosing to share our vulnerable selves (and our hurts).

  6. Sandra says:

    HPKT — Great insight. I’m not as good at explaining WHY it works, I just know it does, and that it makes me a much happier person.

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