Take the Reins

We have been granted a phenomenal head on our shoulders—a noggin—to help us navigate through life in a calm and empowered manner…but we don’t always use it. Have you ever seen two people react to the same thing in a completely different way? Absolutely. It happens all the time. While something may bother one person slightly for a few seconds, the same thing could put another person on an emotional elephant ride for years. When we use our noggin, we take the reins of the emotional elephant ride. We choose to manage our emotions so that we remain in control of our life. Failing to use one’s noggin would be like getting on the elephant ride and refusing to use the reins. Why not make full use of the noggin on our shoulders, one of our best life tools, to guide the ride?

When we’re on an emotional elephant ride, it’s easy to justify that our feelings and reactions are normal and natural given the people and/or circumstances involved. However, a commitment to being emotionally steady requires responsibility for managing emotions in any situation. Many would say I had a right to be angry in that situation. I saw that voicing my anger wasn’t going to make a positive difference in that moment or down the road. Yes, it’s okay to feel angry, but choosing angry actions and conversation isn’t effective.

My commitment to my kids is that we talk about challenges that we encounter and learn together. It’s productive to talk about what happened and why and what we are going to do next time. The reflection, learning, and altered action/behavior in the future are what’s key in life, for everyone. When we identify our emotions and reflect on what has given rise to them, we can then get logical about what to do the next time in order to create a better outcome. Especially in an interpersonal situation, this understanding is critical in order to learn together about what works and what doesn’t. As people, we generally just want to make each other happy and not upset each other, but we need to understand how to create happiness together.

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