Choosing Our Emotions

A short while ago I was tucking my daughter in to bed, and as I was heading out of her room I noticed to my horror that she had used a red ink pen to gouge her full name into her brand new white dresser.  Not something you can wash away, the wood was gouged deeply.  Now, before this moment I had been in a blissful state of joy.  The day was over, my work was done, and I was looking forward to a relaxing, quiet evening doing something leisurely.

I had told her explicitly never to write on her furniture, and she had never done anything like this before, so this was really unexpected.  I began feeling the stirrings of emotions: anger, frustration, disappointment, annoyance.  My ego swelled up and started whispering into my ear, “Tell her she has to do extra chores to work off the repairs.  Tell her how angry you are.  Yell at her a little.  Make her feel bad for what she’s done.  Make sure she knows she did something very wrong.” 

But in my state of bliss and joy I was having a hard time connecting with my ego’s urgings.  I fired back to it, “Yeah, I know I should be angry, but I don’t really want to feel angry right now.  Maybe I’ll be angry later.”

Ego said, “No no!  She’s done something horrible.  She ruined an $800 piece of brand new furniture.  Give it to her good so she never does it again.  Don’t let her get away with that kind of behavior.”

My ego seemed very certain that I should feel anger.  But I wasn’t so sure.  So I checked in with my Higher Self, who lovingly said, “It’s a piece of wood in a reality that’s mostly illusion.  Do you really want to move out of a state of love and joy and sink all the way down to anger?  Just so you can make her feel shame?  Over something neither of you will remember in 20 years?”

I replied, “Not really.  I was looking forward to, and very much enjoying, my loving, joyful state.”

Higher Self said, “Well there you go.  Just decide not to be angry.  Stay in the state you really want to be in.”

I said, “Am I allowed to do that?  Can I just ignore what’s happened here and be blissful?”

Higher Self replied, “Sure, why not?  Emotions are choices.  You can choose your emotions at any time, under any circumstance, or any condition.”

I thought about it and decided that I just didn’t feel like feeling angry.  To go from joy to anger I would have to change my entire physiology.  I would have to allow my endorphins to turn into boiling blood.  I didn’t want my entire evening to be spoiled just because I’d discovered what she’d done.

So I turned to my daughter and said, “Oh dear, honey.  I was hoping you wouldn’t write on your furniture.  But don’t stress about it.  We’ll fix it and you can contribute some of your time or your allowance to the repairs.  Sound good?”

She sighed with total relief.  “Okay, Mommy,” she said.  “I’m sorry.  I just really wanted to write my name on it.”

“Yes, dear.  I know.  Don’t worry about it.  Sweet dreams.”

I left her room with my joyful state intact.  I think it was the first time that I took a moment to consciously choose how I would react to a situation that would normally sink me into a lower level of consciousness.  It wasn’t that hard either, but it sure was eye-opening.

Over the next few days I decided to see if I could do it again.  Each time I found myself having a reaction that lowered the state of consciousness I was in, I asked myself if I was sure I wanted to feel that way.  Now sometimes the answer was yes.  Sometimes I really did feel like getting angry, but it was a more conscious choice than before.  And sometimes I decided that I would be a fool to allow myself to go from joy to anger or fear or worry or guilt, so I stayed in my joyful state and simply let the emotion pass.

This was such a powerful reference experience for me.  I’d always known we could choose how we feel about a past event, but to actually choose an emotion in the moment, that was something new for me.  It felt so empowering!

I urge all of you to try what I did.  The next time you’re overcome with a negative emotion like anger, fear, worry, guilt, or shame, ask yourself (or your Higher Self) if you really want to go there.  And know that if you don’t want to, no one can make you.  Don’t allow external factors to determine your level of consciousness.  If you want to be angry, decide to be angry.  But if you don’t, let it roll off your back and stay in your more joyful state.  The only thing you gain by lowering your energy is higher blood pressure. ;)

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