Friday, February 3, 2012

how can emotions be controlled?

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."  J. Krishnamurti
That quote sums up exactly how I feel most days. There are many areas where life just does not add up. I think of the people I have worked with to rebuild societies and yet they cheat on their partners, thus acting like a hypocrite. I think of the people that will say the most damaging thing only to feel justified because the truth hurts, not because speaking the truth was helpful to the situation but more to get the shot in. I have been hit with such shots many times. Each time I have cursed myself for knowing better than to respond. However in time I always thank myself for being peaceful, just take it and let it go.
It is not an easy thing to do though when you are fighting with a person who you have great emotion for. Emotions can be controlled but it takes great skill and for most of us that skill is dormant. So how can emotions be controlled?
Everyone knows how, but few practice or even try to act in such a manner. The knowledge is good to have but if you do not learn to use it, well, it is useless. I guess I could write down what to do but then again everyone knows. A vicious circle really. But once more can only help, if only one person takes the steps to change their behaviour it is worth it. I do hope at least one person changes. Maybe it will be me?
Someone is arguing or yelling at you. You start to feel the tension rise. You need to be aware of that moment and breathe slowly and deep. You have to tell yourself that you care to be a relaxing force in the face of hostility. Sometimes it takes going for a walk, giving a person a hug, a good thought or anything that will bring you to a state of mind where you can be calm.
Being able to do those things is tough enough and takes time to respond in such a way that it becomes natural. The next step is to realize the only solution you have to focus on is to return the situation to a more relaxed one. The topic of the fight is important but nothing will be solved in such a state so let the idea of solving that topic go. For me this step took months to fully integrate. I would get caught up in problem solving, seeking options and dealing with the issue. 
What really needs to take place is for the peaceful person to listen, learn and understand the other. There is a great deal of non-verbal communication knowledge that can be understood as well. I am still learning about that after seventeen years. There is also a situational element at this point. One wrong word and all your efforts could get you a punch in the face.
What you want to accomplish is to get to a point where the other person can believe that you are there to help not harm. It is not enough to say that either, you have to believe it and get that across. You should not fake this. If you really do not care or are just going through the motions it will work for a time. However, people will notice that you do not care soon enough. Furthermore, you will be a great deal more effective if you honestly do care.  For me I have got to a point where I truly wish everyone could live peacefully and that is what holds my capacity to care. I do feel hurt when I see a racist act, a couple going through difficult times, protesters/police officers being shot or a community destroyed.
Basically you are learning as that person vents or lets out their anger as you explore both yours and their emotional states. You should not attempt to solve the issue just bring the emotions to a level point. When the emotions are level you still do not look to solve. At this point you can talk about the last few moments as you gather more information. Thank the person for being so caring. There are so many situations to describe and sometimes it would be weird to thank anyone for being caring. All you want to do is allow the emotions to level out for a time period where the issue can be let go for now.
For some situations all that needs to be done is to manage the emotions where everyone can and does leave. Breaking up a fight in a public space for example, now I would not suggest anyone do such a thing as a form of practice but I have done this more times than I remember. Did I solve anything, no. The larger issues are rooted in ideology, but at those moments the issue was to keep everyone unharmed.
Now to go further means to engage in a series of conversations. These are called negotiation, mediations, peace talks or some other phrases. The method is the same as I just wrote above. The difference is that the emotions will play out over days or years. In these situations you have to operate as the peaceful person from the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep.
After seventeen years I still slip up from time to time. Each day though I get just that much more information on how not to slip. I keep mentioning to myself that I choose to do this because I really do care about peace. I really do care about the children and what the future has for them. The final part I really want, is to share all of this knowledge with others.

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