Be Aware of Your Emotional Response

Be aware of your thoughts and words.
Be aware of adversity and its purpose. 
Be aware of what is in your control and what is not. 
Be aware of your emotional response.
Be aware that our mind gravitates toward the negatives.
Be aware of the practice needed to achieve what you want.

This week, as I continue to delve into six awarenesses needed in our lives, I will examine being aware of adversity and its purpose. A few weeks ago, I shared the following about being aware of what is in your control and what is not:

Be aware of your emotional response. We all know those specific things that frustrate us when they occur. Be aware of those events that provoke an emotional response and have a plan to deal with them. An awareness of these events can help us handle each situation more productively rather than reacting emotionally.

To begin, let me start with an example. Let’s say you are making a long drive to a vacation destination, you are an hour away, and your GPS gives an alert saying that there is an hour delay on the interstate ahead due to an accident. You approach the traffic jam and begin to wait. You are frustrated. No one wants to sit in traffic on their way to a vacation spot. Your travel just became an hour longer, everyone in the vehicle is ready to be there, and the kids are bickering in the back seat. After about 15 minutes, the lines miraculously begin to move, and traffic starts to flow again. The delay on your GPS drops from an hour to only having to wait 20 minutes. How do you feel? Your delay went from an hour to 20 minutes. I bet you are feeling pretty good; you  are back on the way and will be there relatively soon.

Now, let’s take that same scenario, but this time the GPS pops up with an alert saying that the delay is 20 minutes. You pull into the traffic jam, annoyed, and wait for 20 minutes. You are frustrated; your trip just got 20 minutes longer. You wait, and after 20 minutes traffic begins to move again.

In both scenarios, you are waiting 20 minutes in traffic. In the first example, you leave the traffic jam somewhat excited that you did not have to wait an hour; you only had to wait a third of the expected time. In the second scenario, you are still mad that your delay was 20 minutes when you wanted to be there. Logically, both scenarios are the same. Emotionally, there is a very different response.

We have to be prepared to deal with our emotional responses and how they impact our behavior. Last week, I mentioned that our attitude, and our happiness, is often based on our expectations rather than our objective conditions. We become satisfied when our expectations match our reality. When conditions change and our expectations no longer align, we fall into a very emotional state—our attitude, our happiness can wane. 

We must be prepared to deal with our emotions in different situations. Some situations can be predicted. (We are going to run into traffic issues at some point in our lives.) Others are unpredictable. The key is to be aware of how our emotional response impacts our attitudes and behaviors when “traffic jams” arise. When things go awry, it is human nature to have an emotional response. What we do with that emotional response is what matters. Do we pause when we feel emotions kick in? Do we take time to get our minds right about the best way to deal with the situation? Do we then step up to the challenge intentionally? Or, do we let emotions take over and let the negative narrative play in our heads? The first ways mentioned help us make a difference and positively take on the situation’s challenge. The latter keeps us stagnant and does not allow for improvement. Be aware of your emotions, acknowledge them for what they are, and step up to the challenge in a disciplined, intentional way to get the outcome you are striving for.

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