Having A Feeling Is Different From Having An Action
February 7, 2022
This evening, when I was completing an important task in a concentrated way, a call came on my handphone. Much as I tried ignoring the call, the phone kept ringing repeatedly. After a couple of minutes, my resolve broke, and I picked up the call. The person on the other side was a telemarketer trying to pitch me a club membership of something. I picked up the call, assuming that it could be important, and what I had was an executive on the other side nonchalantly making a sales pitch. I tried telling him that I was not interested, but the executive kept going with his pitch, ignoring what I was saying. Finally, after a minute or so, I lost my cool and retorted rudely, ” Are you deaf? I am telling you I am not interested, and you keep going !!” With that, I disconnected the call.
I don’t like losing my composure. But, as soon as I ended the call, I realized that I had reacted aggressively at a young sales executive, which was inappropriate.
I got thinking about the sequence of events leading up to me losing my composure, and I had this visual representation in my head.
There is a difference between having a FEELING and having an ACTION.
The apathy of the executive triggered a FEELING of anger, and my reACTION was yelling at the person.
This same sequence plays out in many other emotional situations in our lives.
- You come across a friend who you think is doing very well. Meeting this friend triggers a FEELING of envy/jealousy in you, and your reACTION could be that you withdraw into a shell.
- You come across an aggressive colleague, and you FEEL threatened. Your reACTION is that you avoid engaging with the person.
- Your boss insists that you work on the weekend. You FEEL upset. Your reACTION is that you are tetchy and irritable with your spouse.
It is not possible to control your emotional state all the time because there could be a lot of external triggers coming at you. Thanks to years of unconscious conditioning, your emotional state gets triggered whether you like it or not.
But here’s the thing. When you become aware of how your feelings can amplify because of a trigger, you can consciously choose how you will act.
“I know it is just a feeling, and I don’t need to act on it.” You have the choice of taking a deep breath and stepping back. This evening with the telemarketer, I could have exercised this choice and kept calm. Instead, I let my emotions get the better of me.
Don’t try to manage your emotions. Like waves, they will flow and ebb. So instead, focus on managing your reACTION. This is something you can always control if you know what the trigger for a particular emotion is.