“What we feel is a choice.”
Control your emotions.
We hear this phrase tossed around a lot, but rarely do we sit down and ponder its full implications.
What does it mean to control our emotions?
Should men simply wear a poker face at all times?
The answer surprisingly is absolutely not. Humans are naturally emotive creatures. It’s a tool to help us process the world around us and to properly respond. Someone who tells you to control your emotions might mean well, but probably has a limited understanding of the subject.
Each emotion has its own type of energy that, when harnessed, allows you to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. Just like tools however, you need the right set of emotions for the job.
Today we’re going to tackle two distinct emotions that have the capacity to either shut us down or unleash our inner monster: fear and rage.
Fear is often a maligned emotion that we are told no man should ever feel. I believe that’s a disservice to an emotion that our ancestors’ survival quite literally depended on.
Fear of the unknown is a healthy, reasonable response. It forces us to approach a situation with caution instead of blindly rushing in to what may likely be our demise. The problem is when our fear response is set too high. Many people are paralyzed by apprehension over trivial things because they have a weak tolerance to fear. They clam up as soon as a little pressure is put on them.
To inoculate yourself against fear, you must not only expose yourself to it repeatedly, but you must also learn to function while under its effects. I inadvertently did this years ago by competing in full contact sparring matches. For over ten years I climbed into the ring against guys who would be more than happy to knock me out so they could conserve their energy for the next fight. Top that off with the fact that I was typically the smallest guy in my weight division and you have a heaping pile of anxiety, stress, and fear. Under all that, I was expected to perform, to fight. I had to push through the emotions that were crippling me and stay cognizant of the situation. In time, I learned how to harness the fear to my advantage. Too much fear paralyzes you, but a healthy dose kicks in the fight or flight response and gets the adrenaline pumping.
True rage is a unique emotion, similar to anger but on a whole different plane of existence. People get angry all the time. We get angry at traffic, when the kids draw on the walls, when someone drops the ball at work and we’re left cleaning up the mess. Anger stems from run of the mill, daily issues.
Rage is something different. Rage boils up when a grave injustice occurs. It comes from deep down in your chest. It’s deep, primal, and exceedingly dangerous. Precisely who it’s dangerous to depends on the wielder.
There are many that fall victim to their own rage on a regular basis. They don’t control their rage as much as it controls them. I’m sure you can think of examples of those who routinely fall victim to their own rage: abusers, SJWs/Antifa, brawlers, etc. They succumb to their emotions at the slightest insult and lash out at anyone nearby. Ultimately, this is destructive to them as they have to contend with the aftermath. Broken relationships, police records, and personal injury are their just rewards.
On the flip side, a man who controls his rage wields a powerful weapon. Rage is a fuel that can propel you to accomplish great things or fight tooth and nail to protect your family.
Learning to tap into that deep rage takes some focus and practice. To do so, find a spot where you can spend some time in your thoughts. Begin to think of the following scenario:
You are out with your wife and kids doing a little grocery shopping and enjoying the weekend. Suddenly two men approach you and refuse to let you and your family pass. As they taunt and threaten you, they leer over at your wife and kids, licking their lips like hungry dogs.
Imagine this scenario in the greatest detail you can. You should feel your heart rate quicken, your hairs stand on end, and a deep burning desire to rid the world of these two thugs. THAT is rage. Take a moment to drink in the feelings. Understand what rage is on a physical and emotional level. Once you’ve gotten a good taste of it, end this exercise and let go of the rage.
Like fear, you must repeat exercises like this regularly so that you can turn your rage on and off like a switch.
Learning to control your emotions is a lot like lifting at the gym. It requires being regularly exposed to these emotions to learn not only how to keep them from overwhelming you, but to also learn how to use them to spur you into action. Even grizzled war vets feel fear before a large battle, but they’ve learned how to channel that fear to give them an advantage as opposed to hindering their performance.
You never know when someone might try to attack you and your family, but if you’ve mastered your emotions, your fear, rage, and desperation will become powerful weapons to fuel your aggression to fight back.
What emotions have you learned to harness to fuel you and how? Leave them below in the comments section.