To master one’s emotions is to master oneself. Emotions, good or bad, play a much bigger role in our lives than most people think. Especially when we let our emotions take control over what we think and do. So control is what’s most important. We need to take control over our emotions instead of it being the other way around. But I’m not talking about control in a sense where we try not to feel certain emotions (which is almost impossible anyways). I’m talking about control over how we react to our emotions once we feel them.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that when we get emotional we tend to do and say things we wish we hadn’t. Like most people, you’re probably thinking of a time where you lost your cool and said something you wish you could take back. But anger is only one of the many emotions that we have. We need to learn to control all of our emotions, regardless of whether they’re good emotions (joy, excitement, love, etc) or bad emotions (fear, anger, hate, etc). This is because there’s an inverse relationship between logic and emotion (good or bad). Meaning, the more you have of one, the less you will have of the other.
Let me give you an example that will help illustrate my point. I can’t think of a better example than the ups and downs in emotion you experience when gambling. Lets say you are at a casino and decide to sit down and play a game of Blackjack. You tell yourself that you’ll only play $50 because you know the odds are against you but want to play just for fun. Much to your surprise, you actually start winning. So you raise your bets and keep on playing. You start tipping the dealer $5 every time you win a hand. And before you know it you’re up $200. You feel all this excitement and joy.
While the dealer is shuffling the cards for the next round, you think about leaving while you are up $200. But part of you wants to see if you can win more. So you stay and continue to play. Then, your lucky streak comes to an end and you end up losing what you won. You try to recoup the $200 you originally won, but end up losing your initial $50 bucks as well. You feel horrible. You think about all the things you could have done with that $250 if you would have just left while you were winning.
As you’re walking away from the table, you think to yourself and say “If I put fifty dollars down and won $200 once, I can do it again.” So you go right back to the table and put down another $50. You know you’re going over the limit you set for yourself but you promise yourself that once you win your money back you’ll leave. This time around you’re not so lucky, and you end up losing that $50 too. So you leave the casino, feeling depressed and regretting your decisions.
This is a great example of how emotions can overpower logic if they are strong enough. We all know that, logically, in the end you’re only going to lose money at a casino. If this wasn’t the case, casinos would be going out of business. Yet, the idea of having a chance to win appeals to our emotions. And that’s why most people gamble in the first place.
Going back to the example, it would have been logical to leave the casino while the dealer was shuffling the cards, but instead the emotions of joy, excitement, and greed influenced the decision of staying and trying to win more. Or it would have been logical to have left after losing the initial $50, but the emotions of disappointment, sadness, and regret led to the decision of going back.
I used the casino as an example because its easy to see how your emotions can effect your logic while gambling. Anybody who has gambled before could relate to the example. But our emotions don’t just come into play only when we’re at the casino. They effect us all of the time. Whether its our laziness that stops us from being productive at work, or its our love that blinds us from recognizing a bad relationship, our emotions influence what we think and do everyday.
The bad news is there isn’t much we can do about our emotions. We are always going to feel them. It’s what makes us human. They’ll always have a chance of influencing the decisions we make (for better or for worse). But the good news is, if you have the will power, you can overcome the influence your emotions have on you. You can do this by asking yourself “Whats the logic behind my decision?” before making it. If there isn’t any, then you know your emotions are what led you to it. And if there is, than you know that you’re making the right choice.