Perfectionism is never good. Some people try to control every event in their life. In the end, they end up stressing over things that simply cannot be changed. The answer in such a case is acceptance, letting go, and moving on. These are things that come with time, of course. But the good news is that regardless of what happens in life, you have total control over your reaction. And in particular, your emotional response to any situation you encounter and anything life throws at you.
Your mood is your choice and that makes you powerful. Because others might disappoint you, things might go wrong even if you planned everything well, and even you yourself can find out you have limits sometimes and give up. But how you react to it is the final part of the equation that can decide whether something is good or bad.
If you made a mistake, failed miserably or appeared weak, reacting to it in a wise and positive way can turn things around. Because you can always take the lesson from any failure and continue better prepared, you can always forgive and move on, and you can always decide to let go of the burden of the past and take a completely new direction in life.
Let’s see how exactly to get better at deciding your emotional response to any event:
Wait till your mind calms down
If you go back to hard moments in your past and think about it, you might see that you did something out of anger, resentment, regret, fear, or else. All these are negative emotions that cloud our senses and we can’t think clearly. The zen way and the most practical thing to do in such a case is to give it some time. When something unexpected happens, instead of reacting immediately, breathe deeply and count to 10. Then, give it some more time. Leave your reaction for later that day or even tomorrow. You will then see the whole thing from a new perspective and will have the clarity necessary to take a good decision, make a conclusion, make a change in your life, or take any other action that seems like the right choice.
Observe your initial reaction
Self-knowledge is part of self-development, but only if you observe how you react to events in life and try to find the real meaning behind anything you do or think. Your emotional response to different events is a good way to challenge yourself a bit and also get to know your real self. Your initial response says a lot about your qualities, who you are and what you’re capable of. But that’s not the person you aspire to be. So, to have more control over your mind in the future, observe your reactions in the present and contemplate on them. Find their deeper meaning, the reason why you do what you do.
Understanding is always the answer
Compassion towards others and towards yourself, always wins. Whatever happens to you, good or bad, showing understanding and knowing there are limits in life always brings you back to the present moment and reminds you there is a lot to be thankful for. Our emotional response is often because we want more, aren’t happy with our current lifestyle, have unresolved issues from the past, or something else. But all these are likely to be resolved if you replace it with compassion. It also helps that you forgive, make peace with yourself and others, stop expecting too much and instead start accepting. Over time, you learn to be OK with the fact that things can go wrong. That won’t scare you anymore as it’s part of the natural flow. And you can trust yourself more knowing you can find the right emotional response to any event in life.
Prepare a better response
One other thing you can do when noticing and learning how to control your reaction is to imagine a better one and use it next time. Preparing yourself for similar events by knowing how to react in the future can save you a lot of trouble down the way. It can also help you experiment and find the best way to respond to things. Once you find what works and make it your norm, you won’t fall into the trap of anger or fear, but will always be prepared with the right emotional response. With this, you can find balance in life and prevent many potential problems.
Last but not least, make sure you get better at being mindful. That means spending more time in the present moment rather than going back to the past or planning or worrying about tomorrow. All that matters is now and it’s where you can control your emotional response as well. So practise this even when nothing unusual is going on. That prepares you for when things get out of hand.
Sarah Williams is a Berlin-based writer, entrepreneur, and self-development coach. Currently, she is devoting her life to helping people who struggle to find their true selves and reach their potential in their social life, with a special focus on dating. She is a firm believer that a positive mindset is a choice, and it can bring joy and health to everyone.