“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.”Miguel Ángel Ruiz, 1997, The Four Agreements
With practice and self-awareness, we can become quite good at managing and regulating our emotions.
It takes a lot of ugly moments to get there, but with some commitment, we can successfully conduct ourselves in all types of weather. For the most part.
There are still times however, even for the most well-adjusted, when we lack control.
Physical and environmental components can all play a part in exasperating negative emotions. When the tide turns and we get stuck in the rip, sometimes all we can do is hold on. That’s not to say that we get totally torn apart by it- all our previous work still helps to keep us afloat. But some days, we can’t function beyond it, we can’t shake it off or regulate it as well as we would like. On these days, it’s easy to feel out of control, if not a bit helpless.
All this can start feeling a whole lot worse if we have to contend with guilt on top of it.
Being overcome with negative emotion is usually accompanied with anxiety and volatility. Usually people aren’t the most pleasant to be around under these circumstances. It is our family and those closest to us who feel the impact on these days when we lack control. This exterior conflict and the guilt that comes along with it very much intensifies the inner turmoil we’re already experiencing. We have allowed our negative emotions to spill over and contaminate someone else’s day, and that does not feel good. On these days when we can’t get a grip and our usual bag of tricks isn’t cutting it, is there anything left for us to do?
“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”Marcus Aurelius, 161-180 AD, Meditations
There is something you can do- do not make other people suffer on your account.
You may not be able to get rid of the little gremlin sitting on your chest today, but you needn’t make others suffer because of it. You can try your best not to spread animosity and negativity. In doing so, the rain cloud doesn’t spread and you don’t intensify your own already negative feelings. How can you stop yourself lashing out at people? Well, just say it. There is nothing admirable about not saying how you feel when you’re already failing to contain your emotions by snapping and being hostile. So tell them straight off the bat. In whatever language you can, tell them that you just don’t feel right. This doesn’t have to open a vast conversation if you don’t want it to, it just acts as a pre-emptive and people are aware that maybe today just isn’t the day for you.
Everyone, without exception will have these days.
We will not always have the strength to overcome negative emotion on every single day. But we do have a duty to do the very best we can. And some days, the best we can hope for is not to ruin another person’s day. That is not a minor feat and it will undoubtedly make ourselves feel marginally better as well. Although we couldn’t overcome them, we have successfully kept our negative emotions contained, and that alone is the rainbow in the midst of your storm.
“We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them.”Kenan Malik, 2014, The Quest for a moral Compass