Source : Google photo
Synopsis : We are all full of emotions of all sorts that often control us because we do not learn to control them and end up in trouble. The blog looks at the way we can learn to control our emotions and look at all the difficulties with a philosophical viewpoint.
We often find ourselves in a situation where we are faced with people who use uncivil words, are rude and show extreme arrogance. The gentle people are shocked at such behavior of people so they keep quiet or just walk away to avoid confrontation but aggressive people react with aggression of their own.
This can lead to serious quarrel or physical altercation for reasons that soon spin out of control to make the matter worse that can have severe consequences. People who have short fuse are the most vulnerable because they are unable to control themselves and get angry quickly over real or perceived bad behavior toward them. To them it is an automatic self-defense mechanism by which they try to protect themselves or their loved ones.
All animals are emotional by nature but some animals show remarkable control over them and are very tolerant. You will never see a lion reacting in a violent way when the cubs keep climbing all over the lion and even bite his tail. He simply grunts and ignores their pesky antics. He reserves his anger for more serious matter like when a strong rival shows up to lay claim over his territory and over his lioness. Then he fights back but backs down if the rival accepts his supremacy and submits.
In fact the animals show remarkable control over their emotions that we as humans can learn a lot from. Animals show love for other species and can even help them out of a mortal situation but we often fight with our own kind and show no love or compassion for them let alone other species.
Have you ever seen the elephant crying when he is released from his chains after suffering of many years? Have you seen the rescued dolphins come near you to touch you and show their gratitude and love? They all have emotions and show it in their own way.
But we do not learn from the animals and cannot control our emotions like anger that is often triggered by some events. We yell at a driver who overtakes us on the highway at breakneck speed or forces his way into a parking slot where you were about to park your vehicle. We get angry quickly when someone elbows you out aggressively in a queue while you are patiently waiting for your turn for something. We can get angry for a number of reasons so it seems to me that of all kinds of emotions, the anger and its expression in words or deeds is the most prevalent in human beings while in the animal kingdom , they show tolerance and patience.
It often starts with the childhood. A child is not born angry but he learns to be angry when he sees that his needs are not addressed. If he is wet or hungry or tired and sees that no one is attending to him, he may show anger. A strong willed child can show his anger more than a submissive child. He can be angry enough to throw tantrums over silly demands because he has not yet learned to restrain himself or understand why he is not attended to while his mother may be sick or under depression over something.
He can be angry if he sees domestic violence frequently because he is small and unable to stop the physical abuse of his mother by his father or someone. In school he can get angry if some other kids start bullying him so he can get into fist fights or he becomes a bully tormenting other kids.
All these emotions like love, hate, anger, compassion, hurt feelings, vengeance, rebellion etc. are learned experience. A child is at first like a sponge who soaks up everything he sees or feels around him so he is a product of his upbringing.
He learns compassion and love for others from his parents if they are compassionate and show love for others. If he finds them always angry at each other or towards others then he too picks it up and starts to think that being angry is right. He learns hate if he sees it in others. He learns spitefulness, bigotry, lying, cheating, deceit, jealousy, meanness and many such negative values if he sees it and copies it because no one tells him otherwise. He learns religious intolerance and mistrust of others who are not like him from his parents who try to imprint their values on him while he is still young. So we see that some children are very sweet and adorable while others are monsters reflecting the way they are being raised.
What is controlled emotion ?
Controlled emotion is like a pond that hardly has any ripples. People who can control their emotions stand apart from those who cannot control themselves. It starts early but one can learn to control emotions even later in life through a process called self-introspection. Before you react, you start to think of the consequences so you back off and become calm like a pond with no ripples. I was told that meditation helps make a person calm but I also knew some people who pretended to be religious but could not control their anger. They can never accept that others have a right to be different than them just like the mullahs who take religious extremism as their way of life causing mayhem everywhere.
They get so emotional and angry that they start foaming around their mouth while they shriek and curse the infidels and the rest. They get very angry because of their conviction that they are always right.
I think this is the source of all human problems. When we think that we are always right, we get angry at those who do not share our values. All the bloodshed in the history of mankind has been caused by this arrogance and the feeling of self-righteousness.
When I look at the serene Buddha, I too feel a calmness that comes over me. Buddha was the epitome of serenity even when faced with adversity in his life. How could he remain so calm and unperturbed? Can we emulate him and learn how to control our emotions?
By learning to control your emotions, I do not mean you become an unfeeling, uncaring person who is emotionless. It means you learn to control all your emotions and become calm but you never lose your humanity. That is why people are generally attracted to highly spiritual people who exude an aura of calmness that makes them special. They will listen to your problems with compassion in their eyes and may suggest solutions. But when it comes to their personal matters, they remain aloof and calm. They may go without food for a few days or sleep under a tree somewhere but it does not bother them at all because they take asceticism seriously. They detach themselves from all worldly affairs so that they can devote all their time to spirituality.
This detachment comes from the total renunciation of everything we are so fond of. They do not crave for any special food, comforts of life, fancy clothing or even a comfortable shelter. You will see the Buddhist monks in their saffron or deep red clothes going out in the morning with a begging bowl in hand that pious people fill with food. This is their daily ritual because their life depends on such hardship they happily accept in order to be spiritual.
But ordinary people are not like them because we have to live in the world of our own that is filled with anxiety, fear of unknown and complexity of inter human relationships. We cannot give up our emotions like the monks even if we try. Controlling them often seems difficult.
The emotions are different for different age groups. A child’s emotions are related to his need for food, comfort and attention but a young girl seeks companionship through her cell phone , group chats or by constantly sharing inane photos of herself to attract attention. She gets very upset if no one greets her on her birthday so her emotional needs are different from a child.
At a certain age we tend to start asserting ourselves. Some call it rebellion. We do not like to be told all the time what to do, what to wear, what to eat, what company we should or should not keep so we get angry when we feel that our freedom to do what we please is under threat. I have seen young woman fighting with her parents because they do not approve her drug addict boyfriend and even saying words like I hate you. This is very common in the Western societies where people grow up differently than in the East. Their values are different from societies where people automatically show respect to older people.
In India , we never argue with our parents and take their decisions as commands but it is very different in the Western world where young people may answer back with retort. In the Asian culture , people show respect to old people and value their wisdom but not so in the Western countries where they say that you have to earn your respect so there are fundamental differences. These differences show in the character of a person later. We are essentially a product of our culture.
Young people tell each other that they have no life without a cell phone because it makes them connect with others but if you think about it for a moment, you may realize that one’s life does not depend on a cell phone or it should not. The material culture promotes this dependence because it serves the business interest of those who promote it.
People who make an effort to be in physical contact with another person feel happier than the one who chats whole day looking at a small screen cell phone. The physical nearness with another person whom you like makes you happier but the world is in love with the cell phones so interpersonal relationships that need physical contact suffers. We become lonelier if no one calls.
The loneliness extracts a heavy penalty in the form of depression that is also a kind of emotion that is very harmful. Some people may even lose their mental stability if they are always depressed for one reason or other or they start to drink. Here I will share with you a classic story of a friend of mine who suffered terrible depression.
He was a very bright and intelligent person who had a good job in an international research center, had a wonderful wife and a lovely child but one day he left his job and went to a country in Latin America where he got better salary. Here his misfortune was waiting for him when one day the rebels captured him and kept him hostage for ransom for a long time. Finally after suffering in the rebel camps where they kept him under primitive conditions, he lost all hope of living until someone came up with the ransom money for him so he was finally released.
But his wife had left him and his grown up son also moved away so he took to drinking and died alone because he could not come out of his depression. When you cannot control your emotions, it will end up controlling you as it happened to my friend. He just did not have the will to start all over again , find a job and get his family together.
The injustices of life can make a person angry who suffers and sees no respite so it is very difficult for anyone not to get angry or depressed. But I have found a secret that is really no secret at all so I will share it with you.
It starts with a very determined plan of your life. If you are determined to become a doctor or engineer or an IT professional, it means you have to be disciplined enough to spend long lonely hours of studies to pass tough exams. Once you have achieved your goal, you must dedicate your life in the service of others even if it means that you serve the poor as a country doctor or an IT specialist who helps the poor through IT skills.
Secondly , (and this part is really what makes you a worthy person) is to be satisfied with what you earn and never accumulate needless money that you do not need to live modestly but comfortably. Having more money than what a person really needs can become a curse so running after money like that friend in Latin America can often lead to unhappy situations where you lose control of your life. It does not mean that you do not save for your retirement someday. It requires sound money management skills that sadly many people do not have.
A calm person is a thinking person who thinks very deeply about everything and takes his time to come to a wise decision that can change his life in a positive way. Too much emotion can often cloud your judgment so you can make serious mistakes like starting to drink or seek solace in drugs. The anger can be managed if you learn to meditate and look deeply into yourself.
So learn to control your emotions before it starts to control you.
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