Have you ever had a moment when you let emotion overcome you? Or have you ever felt you were a mixed bag of emotions – like you could pull any one of several out and it would suit the particular situation? Or what about this: have you been in a situation where you didn’t know if you should laugh or cry?
We all have. Lots of times. It’s funny because, for me, I have some emotions that will roll off me like slime off off a snail, and others I succumb to like a nerd in a library. I know, those were both weird examples. So I’ll quickly move on.
I’m tend to be very patient in difficult situations – mainly with people. I hold my emotions until the right time, but I try not to show my true emotion in the heat of the moment. I’ve learned these skills by handling thousands of situations in which people were the problem. Having a career in PR is like having an PhD in managing difficult people. In addition, I serve as a volunteer mediator and arbitrator which allows me to help disputing parties work through their emotions and get to the heart of their conflict to seek possible resolution. Through what I do for living, I get an insider’s glimpse into real, raw human emotions on a daily basis. We all have these emotions from time to time.
Maybe that’s why I’m hard on myself in this regard. Recently, I really messed up. I was backing out of my garage in my Toyota Tacoma. Being a truck, I must pay attention to the side mirrors so I don’t hit the side opening of the garage when backing out. What I didn’t do was pay attention to my daughter’s car in the driveway behind me. Yep. I backed straight into it. My emotions grabbed a hold of me like a snake choking it’s prey. I was upset for a few minutes. Not at the situation, but at myself because I should have caught it. I went in the house boldly (maybe huffing and stomping a little like a child) and loudly announced how I was the first to wreck the Honda Accord. I kind of thought my daughter would be the one to damage it first because she just turned 16 and this was my hand-me-down car. For 11 years, I managed to take care of that car!
My wife and daughter went outside to survey the damage. Kim was calm and said it was okay because it was an older car. Madison was even calmer, despite it being her car. I was the one who was not calm. The thing that made me upset was I had just damaged not one… but two cars I own.
But, here’s the deal: it was really no big deal. Emotions are controllable. I chose whether I was going to have a bad rest of the day or not. And I didn’t. I quickly got over my initial anger at myself, surveyed the situation, and did what we so often do at Southwestern Advantage when bad things happen: look for three positives.
- No one was hurt.
- I backed into the oldest car we have and not my wife’s car.
- Other people have bigger problems.
What I did was internally reason to change my perspective, which, in turn, changed my attitude. It’s not our emotions that get us into trouble. It’s how we let those emotions control our reactions and words that get us into trouble.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
– Proverbs 29:11
The next time life challenges you, remember the rule of three: find three positives in every situation.