Control your emotions

Have you ever noticed that the people who say things like, “you have to get your emotions under control”, are the very people who have never in their lives had an emotion that really needed to be controlled?

If you point that fact out, you will get a smug response about how that just illustrates their point.

But the truth is that is the smug people have totally missed the point.  Emotions cannot be controlled!  Emotions wash over you.  Emotions are experienced.  Emotions are not something you choose to have.

Tell me you can control that black feeling that sucks you down like soft mud.  That covers your eyes, your skin, your ears so there is nothing that reaches you but blackness and coldness and aloneness.  That oozes into your nostrils and your mouth and your lungs until it fills you, until there is nothing inside you except black, vile mud.  You can just as easily choose not to breathe!  And perhaps you would choose that just as gladly if you had the option.

Tell me you can control that white hot rage that explodes inside you and will come pouring out no matter how much you want to clamp down on it.  It can’t be swallowed.  Some inner part of you might be screaming in horror, weeping at the carnage you’re wreaking, terrified at how far you might go… this time… next time.  But it’s a small, weak, frightened part of you and powerless against the dragon.  So small, weak and impotent in fact that nobody believes it is even there.  They turn away, they guard themselves from you, they avoid you, they’re careful with you.

The smug people can be smug because they have never experienced such a thing.  Their lives have been fortunate and easy.  They ascribe their fortune and ease to good self-management and their own prowess.  But it isn’t that.  It’s luck.  When the tide of their lives turns – a faithless spouse exposed, a hidden creeping disease discovered, an unexpected death – the waters of their emotions are ready to burst out and wipe away everything they thought they knew about themselves.  They will be looking at bridge pylons as they drive by and thinking how easy it would be to twitch the wheel a fraction.  Perhaps the only thing that will stop them is the thought, “what if it’s too late, and I’m staring into concrete through the windscreen from two metres away, and I change my mind…”

In the face of emotions the only thing you can hope to influence is how you react, and most of the time not even that.  Perhaps you can feel it happening soon enough to deflect it, do something else, divert yourself.  But most of the time no… you embrace your own destruction… and you try to deal with the broken pieces afterward.


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