We can’t always control how we feel, but we can control how we act

We all face situations wherein our emotions go wild and push us to act impulsively, say, angrily. Regretting such actions, we resolve to become self-controlled. But in future, amidst provocative situations, we again feel angry. Despairing that we can’t control our feelings, we act angrily.

How can we do better? By changing our focus. Instead of controlling our feelings, we can strive to control our actions. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (05.23) urges us to accept the presence of desire and anger without giving in to them.

When something angers us, resenting our feeling – “Why am I feeling angry?” – is like fighting a lost battle because we are already feeling angry and we can’t wish away that feeling. Instead, if we acknowledge and identity that feeling, “The feeling of anger is rising within me, and xyz has triggered it,” we can move on to fighting a winnable battle: “Even though I am feeling angry, how can I act wisely?”

To understand this strategy, let’s compare our emotional reaction with a physical reaction. Suppose our body is cold-sensitive; whenever the temperature drops, we start shivering uncontrollably. Trying not to feel cold is a lost cause; we can’t change our body’s sensitivity. But just because we feel cold doesn’t mean we have to quit whatever we are doing; we can don warm clothes and find a way to persevere.

Similarly, whenever we feel angry, we can persevere by donning an emotional shield. To shield ourselves emotionally, we need to go deep within, to our core identity. We are souls, eternal parts of Krishna. When we connect devotionally with him, we get inner security and serenity that shield us amidst dualities such as heat-cold, pleasure-pain, honor-dishonor (06.07). By staying devotionally connected, we gradually become purified and transcend disruptive emotions (05.26).

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1 Comment

  1. Aatmiyaa… “Aanand” is natural, ultimate and universal state.
    We can readily achieve Aanand by only controlling our ACTIONS. Simple living helps in direction Aanand.

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