I took a flight from Chicago to Madison, then a cab from the airport to the hotel. The driver wanted to talk and he asked me, “where are you from?”
“Mississippi!” Which made him laugh because I have a very distinct British accent.
Then he asked me why I was in Madison. “I am teaching a course on Emotional Intelligence to the VA in Madison.” I said.
“Ahh that’s all about how to control emotions.” He said.
“Yes.” I said, “Everything begins with a thought, and our thoughts come from our beliefs. So when we are aware of our beliefs and our thoughts we can change them.” Of course, this is putting an entire days course into a nutshell, and I didn’t expect the conversation to continue much beyond that.
“I went to an anger management class once.” He caught my eye in the rearview mirror and laughed. “I didn’t harm anyone or anything like that. I just had anger issues. I learned something in that class that literally changed my life.”
“What?” I asked.
“I learned that when I respond with anger, I had learned the response years before, probably when I was a kid. And I was just responding that way because I didn’t know any different. The professor teaching the class told me that next time something happened to make me respond with anger that I must stop. Stop and think. And that’s when I realized I didn’t have to respond with anger. It changed my life.”
It seems such a small thing to stop and think, but can you imagine how much pain and suffering would end, if we just to a moment to stop and think before reacting with anger, frustration or impatience? He went on to tell me, “I learned that when someone is angry, they enjoy giving their anger to other people. It’s like this…” he said. “When someone starts a fight and another person responds with anger; that other person is taking on their anger. They are not the ones who started it, but they are the ones who always get in trouble. It’s like taking your power away. So I decided to hold onto my power and not react with anger. I stopped taking it on board.”
It never ceases to amaze me what we can learn from other people. If we will just open our ears and minds and listen. It’s not that I don’t know the information, it’s hearing it from another perspective that reminds me of how disruptive anger can be. How we so easily take on other people’s emotions and make them our own.
My friend, today stop and think. Whenever an emotion threatens to take you over, stop and think. Is this where I want my power to go? Is this how I want to drain my power away and give it to someone else? The answer is no. You do not want to give up your power, or drain it away. Stop and think my friend. Then react with a smile, a laugh, or a joyous piece of encouragement. Go in peace and use your power to uplift your soul and enhance your spirit and thus, your life.