A PROPER FRAME OF MIND

“Frame your thoughts like this — you are an old person, you won’t let yourself be enslaved by this any longer, no longer pulled like a puppet by every impulse, and you’ll stop complaining about your present fortune or dreading the future.”

— MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS

We resent the person who comes in and tries to boss us around. Don’t tell me how to dress, how to think, how to do my job, how to live. This is because we are independent, self-sufficient people.

Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Yet if someone says something we disagree with, something inside us tells us we have to argue with them. If there’s a plate of cookies in front of us, we have to eat them.

If someone does something we dislike, we have to get mad about it. When something bad happens, we have to be sad, depressed, or worried. But if something good happens a few minutes later, all of a sudden we’re happy, excited, and want more.

We would never let another person jerk us around the way we let our impulses do. It’s time we start seeing it that way — that we’re not puppets that can be made to dance this way or that way just because we feel like it.

We should be the ones in control, not our emotions, because we are independent, selfsufficient people.

Emotions are powerful. Your mood determines how you interact with people, how much money you spend, how you deal with challenges, and how you spend your time.

Gaining control over your emotions will help you become mentally stronger. Fortunately, anyone can become better at regulating their emotions. Just like any other skill, managing your emotions requires practice and dedication

Experience Uncomfortable Emotions But Don’t Stay Stuck in Them…

Here are three ways to gain better control over your mood:

1. Label Your Emotions

Before you can change how you feel, you need to acknowledge what you’re experiencing right now. Are you nervous? Do you feel disappointed? Are you sad?

Keep in mind that anger sometimes masks emotions that feel vulnerable — like shame or embarrassment. So pay close attention to what’s really going on inside of you.

Put a name your emotions. Keep in mind you might feel a whole bunch of emotions at once — like anxious, frustrated, and impatient.

Labeling how you feel can take a lot of the sting out of the emotion. It can also help you take careful note of how those feelings are likely to affect your decisions.

2. Reframe Your Thoughts

Your emotions affect the way you perceive events. If you’re feeling anxious and you get an email from the boss that says she wants to see you right away, you might assume you’re going to get fired. If however, you’re feeling happy when you get that same email, your first thought might be that you’re going to be promoted or congratulated on a job well done.

Consider the emotional filter you’re looking at the world through. Then, reframe your thoughts to develop a more realistic view.

If you catch yourself thinking, “This networking event is going to be a complete waste of time. No one is going to talk to me and I’m going to look like an idiot,” remind yourself, “It’s up to me to get something out of the event. I’ll introduce myself to new people and show interest in learning about them.”

Sometimes, the easiest way to gain a different perspective is to take a step back and ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” Answering that question will take some of the emotion out of the equation so you can think more rationally.

If you find yourself dwelling on negative things, you may need to change the channel in your brain. A quick physical activity, like going for a walk or cleaning off your desk, can help you stop ruminating.

3. Engage in a Mood Booster

When you’re in a bad mood, you’re likely to engage in activities that keep you in that state of mind. Isolating yourself, mindlessly scrolling through your phone, or complaining to people around you are just a few of the typical “go-to bad mood behaviors” you might indulge in.

But, those things will keep you stuck. You have to take positive action if you want to feel better.

Think of the things you do when you feel happy. Do those things when you’re in a bad mood and you’ll start to feel better.

Here are a few examples of mood boosters:

  • Call a friend to talk about something pleasant (not to continue complaining).
  • Go for a walk.
  • Meditate for a few minutes.
  • Listen to uplifting music.

Keep Practicing Your Emotional Control Skills

Inspired Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

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Olaoluwa Ajibade

Daily Stoic is a community built around the teachings of Stoicism. If you're wondering "What does Stoicism mean?", "Who was Marcus Aurelius?" We answer all that