We all know that if we want to be physically fit, we have to workout and train our physical muscles through cardiovascular exercises, strength-training, stretching and so on. We also know this takes great discipline, and we can’t just work out sporadically and expect great results.
While much societal emphasis is placed on the importance of having a strong, fit, healthy body, less attention is paid to developing healthy emotional muscles. Self-control over our feelings needs regular exercise to stay strong as well.
Why This Is Important
Have you ever been having a perfectly fine (even wonderful!) day, only to receive an upsetting phone call or rude email that instantly “ruins” your day? I know I have. I recently received a phone call from my agent alerting me to the fact that a client was refusing to pay me for a job I had already performed, making all kinds of excuses and trying to justify why withholding payment was perfectly normal.
I found myself getting so irate, taking their unprofessionalism personally and feeling personally attacked, saying “How dare they mess with my money!” While I had a valid reason to be upset, nothing is worth getting that worked up over and spiraling into a state of despair.
It is one thing for someone to try to hurt us financially, but yet another to allow a person to steal our joy. I literally gave away my good mood for free, and there is no price tag we can put on our peace and happiness. It is invaluable.
I learned a huge lesson that day. I saw how easily I let another person and unfortunate situation control my mood. I knew I never wanted to feel this way again. Certainly none of us are going to go through the rest of our lives without experiencing hurts and frustrations, and it’s important to embrace the fact that we are 100% responsible for our reactions to upsetting events. In other words, most of us need to bulk up our emotional muscles.
How To Build Courage Muscles:
1. Learn to discipline your emotions.
If you’re a parent, you’re probably all too familiar with giving your children a “time-out.” Sometimes as adults, we need a time-out, too. We can discipline our emotions by refusing to let our feelings rule our lives. Rather than acting on emotional impulses and saying or doing something we will later regret, we can resist the temptation and see our reaction as an opportunity to grow and develop character.
There will always be opportunities to lose our temper and get upset, but when we feel our emotions rising, we can choose not to act on them, and stay calm instead. It’s the same thing as not feeling like going to the gym, but you go anyway because you are disciplined and know how good you will feel after your workout.
2. Take the high road. Forgive.
When someone is rude to us, and we don’t engage, we pass the metaphorical test. When we are willing to apologize even when it’s not our fault, we grow up fast and build strong character that attracts abundance into our lives.
We will always be tempted to over-react in the areas where we are the weakest. These situations shine a light on our own limits to love. It is easy to love people who are loving, but the challenge is to love those who are behaving in unloving ways. They teach us how to love better and stronger. Forgive them. They are growing your character.
3. Don’t get on board.
It’s hard to overlook an insult, keep a positive attitude and be patient when nothing seems to be going our way. We think if those rude people would just stop being rude, everything would be great. But when we allow ourselves to realize that this rude person or upsetting situation is perfect for us because it allows us to change for the better, we take back our power.
It may not feel very pleasant to do 100 burpees at the gym with your personal trainer, but think how strong your body will look and feel if you commit to exercising your physical muscles this way on a regular basis. The same applies to our emotional muscle workouts.
So the next time somebody does you wrong and you want to get upset, send an unloving text or email, scream at the top of your lungs or completely shut down, see it as a beautiful opportunity to heal an old wound and grow immensely. With practice, you will become more and more non-reactive, and feel a greater sense of peace and freedom.
Remember, when you see the anger train coming, you don’t have to get on board!