Learning that we choose our emotions as a result of what we believe brought a bonus of balanced emotional health into my life. With a back ground as a Primal Therapist, I reacted negatively to the phrase that we choose our emotions when I first heard it in 1975. Certainly I believed our emotional responses seemed to be programmed from before the age of 5 and the strongest ones of fear and anger (feeling out of control) around the age of 2. And what 2 year old has control of their lives? I found it hard to believe that even as an infant we chose our responses.
Then one morning in spiritual community when the temperature in The Shenandoah Valley was 20 degrees Fahrenheit, Hearthfire Lodge where we meditated at 7:00 a.m. had run out of fuel. The lodge was on its way to freezing. Many of the men in our community lived in the lodge and they slept in late under their warm covers. We women drove in from our apartments in a nearby village. When we arrived that morning, of course, the furnace wasn’t running, plus there were no fires in the fireplace or the wood burning stove in the kitchen.
Several women started complaining, bitching really. They were chiming in that the fellows were terrible hosts and hadn’t thought about us or the need for all of us to be comfortable for our 7:00 mediation.
I was about to join the kvetching to bash the guys and then I thought: I want to be warm ASAP. I don’t want to get angry and bitchy. So, I CHOSE to feel cooperative. I said, “I’m wearing white wool slacks so I don’t want to deal with the soot in the fireplace. I am going to go to the woodpile and I’ll bring in wood for the fire. Who will start the fire? One of the men volunteered and fires were blazing in minutes. Another resident rounded up blankets for all of us. The wind from “the angry/blame the guys sport” had subsided. We meditated in peace.
From that point on The 5 Steps of Communication became clearer to me and I recognized fully and sometimes reluctantly that I could choose a positive emotion to create a harmonious outcome. I did not have to fantasize a harmonious outcome and figure out how to get there. We can choose love and cooperation throughout our days.