What if you could choose how you feel ?

I love this question, because it took me so long to realise that maybe, just maybe I could. And in that maybe I suddenly glimpsed a freedom I didn’t know was possible. I have been fighting the stereotype of woman as overly emotional my entire life and for a while, I managed to suppress pretty much every emotion I had – to the point where I could not have told you what I was feeling. Not a good place to be, because I was still living my emotions, now with no ability to see them and so manage them.

We live in a world where being emotional is frowned upon, especially in our still very male oriented workplaces. In diving in the 90’s it was even worse. I was the only woman in South Africa doing deep cave diving and the only way to get onto the teams was to lose my identity and emotions and make like the guys. I didn’t think it was a problem, now looking back I can see how much I gave up.

Going from total repression to allowing emotions to flow is scary. And naturally I went the other way, from nothing to only emotion. Admittedly in that time period I did also have to cope with my Dad’s death after a week in a coma, a bad car accident, numerous suicide attempts and alcoholism. My mother’s death (mismanagement of a ventilator in a private hospital’s intensive care unit leaving her brain dead, that was 4 weeks of intense stress), my husband-to-be in a bad car accident in another so-called private clinic where I never knew if he would survive the night thanks to the nursing staff and the death of my grandmother (cancer, intense pain, dragged out).

Actually, looking back, no wonder I didn’t want to face my emotions. I knew if I let them loose I would be lost!

Then one day, while telling my coach a long and involved story (have no idea what it was), she let me finish, looked at me quietly and asked, “How do you want to feel ?”

I was stunned into silence!

How much time have I spent bemoaning the situating I find myself in and the people who are being nasty or mean or not helping or not seeing me or deliberately trying to undermine me or, or, or…when all along how I was feeling had nothing to do with them or what was happening at all ?

I admit it has taken a couple of years to really get the hang of owning how I feel! Of all the habits I have that keep me trapped, this is the biggest and hardest to escape.

It is everywhere. Listen at work for a while and take notice how often people will start a statement with things like “I don’t want to make you angry but…”

Now watch what happens if you turn around and tell the person talking that it isn’t their job to keep you happy it is yours, so they can say what they need to say and you will worry about how you feel about it ?

If you are anything like me, you hate being told what to do or think, so then why do you let other people’s words and actions dictate what you feel ?

Think about it !!!

The guy who cut you off in traffic and you arrived intensely irritated with your day ruined ? You let a complete stranger do that ? Someone you can not control or change managed to control your day.

What would happen if you could choose how you felt ? What would change in your conversations and interactions if the emotions you are normally avoiding or desperately trying to control weren’t in charge ?

I dare you to spend a day choosing how you feel rather than letting what someone said or did choose it for you ?

Live with Dare! Create the life you want to love! You are the only one who can