Our back yard is full of scrub oak trees where a little squirrel loves to run and play. A yappy little Yorkie--cuter than anything--lives at our house. Squirrel and Yorkie love to argue with each other. Squirrel is smart and loves to tease. He can have Yorkie running in circles as he chases through the trees.
I brought Yorkie in the house the other day because their argument was going on so long I was afraid neighbor relations would become strained. But Yorkie didn’t quit barking at Squirrel. He headed for the door to the upper deck and continued yapping. Squirrel hopped onto the branch nearest the door and danced back and forth, chattering all the time.
Squirrel was in complete control of Yorkie’s feelings. Yorkie couldn’t think of anything but barking at Squirrel. Now, granted, Yorkshire Terriers were bred to catch small rodents—including squirrels, so it’s not really fair to ask him to control his feelings. But we, as intelligent human beings can be very like Yorkie at times.
How often do we allow others to choose our feelings? How many times have you said something like, ‘You make me so mad.’? Or we become angry when a loved one is critical of us. Maybe we’ve been anxious because a spouse didn’t get home on time.
The process of strengthening our sense of self comes slowly as we grow from child to adult. Maturity brings some control. But there are several things we can do to keep ourselves from being overtaken emotionally by those around us.
1. Stop when you find yourself losing emotional control. Take a time out. Relax for a few minutes in a quiet place.
2. Do some deep breathing.
3. Remember that your thinking determines your feelings. During your quiet time change your thinking.
4. Remind yourself that no one can decide your feelings but you. Reframe your situation to a positive one. Just because someone else is upset doesn’t mean you need to fill yourself with negative energy.
5. Cherish yourself and the good about you. Imagine yourself being filled with sunlight.
When you are calm, go back and face your situation with positive energy, letting those around you know you love them but are unwilling to engage in their negativity. Infuse yourself with light so that others may see your strength and goodness.
Even yappy little Yorkie is the most loving, gentle bundle of fur around (when no rodents are present).
Christy Monson is the author of Love, Hugs, and Hope When Scary Things Happen and Becoming Free, A Woman’s Guide to Internal Strength. Both will be in book stores September 1, 2013.