I have a catch-and-release policy on my emotions. I catch the little buggers, reel them in long enough to see the whites of their fishy eyes, and then toss them back.
The benefits are endless when my line is hot. The more I catch, the more everyone wins. I don’t stew all night, leaving me well-rested with energy to direct elsewhere, and I’m shocked when I keep my mouth shut in favor of striving to be understood.
The other day, I allowed the object of my annoyance to pretend their obnoxious comment was innocent. Instead of taking issue, I laughed, we hugged, and off I went. It was a magnanimous win-win moment. They saved face, and I mastered my inner world.
It turns out being understood is wholly overrated, and who’s to say that I’m not being seen accurately anyway?
As a young psychotherapist, identifying and excavating the origins of my feelings was an obsession, but now, I’m not interested in engaging with my unruly inner world.
The truth is that we are complex beings, and there’s no way to know ourselves honestly. Sometimes we feel this way, and sometimes we feel that. One part of me wants chocolate, and another part of me wants to wake up without a sugar hangover. One part of me wants to go out, and another wants to crawl into bed. One part wants to stay up all night writing, and another insists it’s never good enough, so why bother?
To spend time listening to the brain’s drivel is hardly a productive use of time since it’s constantly changing its mind.
Not to mention all the time saved! Seriously, how much easier is it to throw the sucker back than to spend an hour skinning, gutting, and lopping off its head, only to be left with a bloody mess to clean? The answer is a ton. It saves a ton of time.
Now I’m no Zen Buddha by any stretch of the imagination (to which my husband and kids will happily attest). I was born wanting the last word and cursed with a razor-sharp tongue to get it.
But the reward of striving to overcome this aspect of myself is far bigger than proving I’m right. Namely, the fondness for and relationship with myself it’s cultivated.
If you’ve seen my TEDx, you’ll know that I believe that the roots of nearly all inner and outer turmoil go back to our sense of worthiness, and when you can better master your inner world, you like yourself more, plain and simple.
This is called empowerment, and you’ll become unstoppable in whatever pursuit you’re after.
- Quit asking yourself why you feel how you feel; knowing doesn’t make it go away.
- Realize that others don’t have to get you. You get you.
- If you’re up for a real challenge, try the catch-and-release program. It’s not for the faint of heart.