Can you remember a time when you became a little irritated with
someone and made a sharp comment that may have hurt, one which you
later regretted? Have you ever writhed in the pain of emotional agony
over some loss or missed opportunity? Do you recall a time when you
felt so overwhelmed by emotion that you withdrew from everything and
everyone? In any of these cases to a lesser or greater degree the
emotional part of your brain has produced a questionable response or
perhaps a response that you may have regretted later.
Researchers generally agree that there is an appropriate ‘alarm’
system in the brain. This system effectively overrides the thinking
part of your brain in emergencies and causes an action or reaction
that can be life saving.
The same system causes you problems when it creates inappropriate and
unreasonable responses in your daily life in non-life threatening
situations. Maybe your loved ones see your anger and it hurts them or
your relationship to them. Perhaps you experience other consequences
that would have been averted had you greater control over your
You can exert control over the reactionary part of your gray matter.
The first step is realizing why these unwanted and seemingly
uncontrollable responses happen. Just being cognizant that your
emotional alarm system sometimes triggers at inappropriate times is
half the battle. With awareness, you will be primed to take the next
Using your will to produce a calmer state is the second step. You’ll
want to exert some effort from the rational or thinking part of your
brain. Your thinking mind must not be timid and should be a bit
stronger in applying a conscious influence over your emotional
reactions. You can learn to control the alarm response with
persistence and patience and reset the threshold to a more appropriate
Once you begin to recognize the emotional response before it happens,
you begin to develop the ability to stop that response and engage the
more rational part of your brain.
When successful, you will find that you no longer ‘snap’ at others.
You will be happier and your emotional side will not run ramped like
an out of control team of horses racing away with the wagon of your
Instead, you may find yourself becoming calmer, more relaxed and
better able to handle situations in a way that helps everyone and
allows the wonderful person that you truly are to shine through.
Developing a more compassionate and kinder nature may help. Becoming
less quick to judge a situation and more understanding of the
perceived transgressions of others may be useful in resetting the
threshold of your emotional alarm system.
Ridding yourself of thoughts of arguing or fighting with others may
also leave you in a better state of mind. Allowing things to happen
naturally and letting go of the need to be in control of every
situation will allow you to feel better about yourself and the world
Consider practicing that sage-like advice that comes from a most
unusual source, bumper stickers. You have probably seen the ones that
say, “I practice random acts of kindness’ If you actively do so, you
may find your threshold for emotional responses naturally adjusting
Checking inappropriate responses is a great reason to pay attention to
your emotions and feelings. Yet, there is a an even more positive
benefit that hasn’t been mentioned yet.
Consider this quote from the inside front jacket of Daniel Goleman’s
book, “Emotional Intelligence”. “Emotional Intelligence includes self-
awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and self-motivation,
empathy and social deftness. These are the qualities that mark people
who excel in real life: whose intimate relationships flourish, who are
stars in the workplace. These are the hallmarks of character and self-
discipline, of altruism and compassion -basic capacities needed if our
society is to thrive”.
Clearly, you have the power to make changes that vastly improve the
quality of your life and the lives of those around you. The answer
rests within and can change your world.