30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 2: Taking Control of Your Feelings

“I discovered I always have choices, and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude.”  – Author unknown

Morning traffic moved painfully slow this morning, adding 30 minutes to your usual commute. The cook at the burger joint put pickles on your well-done quarter-pounder—and you despise pickles. On top of that, your boss is particularly bossy today, requesting that you stay a little later to finish a project. “Everyone’s making me crazy!” you shout to yourself. “What a terrible day!”

But that’s not true. You’re making yourself crazy. You’ve made the day terrible.

How can that be, though? Wasn’t traffic bad, service inattentive, and your boss annoying? Perhaps, but here’s an important lesson to remember from psychologist and author Dr. Wayne Dyer, and it isn’t rocket science: If you are in control of your thoughts, and your feelings come from your thoughts, then you are in control of your feelings. You can think what you want. Therefore, you can feel however you want, no matter what situation you’re in.

Our society conditions us to believe that people and things outside of us are responsible for our feelings. We believe that others annoy us, embarrass us, hurt us, bore us, or excite us. What actually happens is that we find ourselves in a situation and we choose what that situation means for us. Consider standing in a long, barely moving line at the post office. You have several options: You can (a) roll your eyes and tap your feet impatiently; (b) make small talk with the person in front of you; (c) immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and feeling of the office; or (d) daydream about the beach. Any of these options—and many more—you can choose at your own will. It’s up to you to decide how you’ll handle this small, fleeting moment in your life.

We waste valuable time and energy believing that people, things, and situations make us “feel” anything. That’s no way to grow. Take power over your feelings and choose for yourself. Do roller coasters scare you? No. You scare yourself at amusement parks. Choose to relax even when your bus is late. Choose to smile at the frowning salesperson. Choose to ignore harshly critical feedback and make your own day great. When in doubt, choose the feeling that will generate the least amount of stress, eye rolls, and headaches for you—it’s usually positivity.