January 20, 2020
We often go through the motions of the day without really paying attention to our own emotions and behavior. We are constantly in a “reaction mode” instead of being in a “respond mode”.
Viktor Frankl famously said, between an external stimulus and our response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
In the past if there was something that bugged me, it would immediately impact my emotional state which would be in the grip of anger and stress. This in turn would impact my behavior which would be abrasive and aggressive. I was not in control of my own emotional faculties. I was reacting to the issue that was bothering me.
Lately things have been better.
Recently, I was travelling back from Chennai to Bangalore on the eve of the new year and I was stuck in a traffic jam in the outskirts of Bangalore for over 2 hours. In the space of 15 minutes I could sense that I went from being in a peaceful state to becoming irritable and upset.
Thankfully, I was present and mindful. There was a voice in my head that told me that I was on the threshold of loosing a grip of my emotional state and getting into a reaction mode. My emotional state was like an elephant that was on the verge of going out of control and I needed to rein it back.
I used the negative emotion as a trigger to shift into a state of gratitude. I pivoted my thought process to think about all that I was grateful for, at that moment.
“My family was with me. I could have been stuck in a traffic jam, trying to get to my family waiting at home in Bangalore. Instead they were all actually with me. Am I not lucky?”
In an instant the rampaging elephant of emotional distress was reigned in. I was back to being in a pleasant state. I chose to respond to the issue of the traffic jam by mindfully invoking feelings of gratitude.
Building awareness helps us deal with our emotional state and how we respond and behave. It helps us become more present and in the moment.
Awareness is the process of being a spectator to whatever is happening inside you with respect to the world around you . What kind of mind chatter is going on. What are the different thoughts and emotions that are happening at any moment. It is a process of observing yourself, paying attention to yourself.
Awareness helps us create some distance between whatever is happening around us and what is happening inside us, in terms of our thoughts and emotions. Awareness is that space that allows us the choice to either respond or react.