I have stated previously that in the grief journey of losing my 21 year old son David, that I follow my emotions, but I do not let them control me. We will dig into this a little more as the premise of this blog.
Last week I had been working out in the yard, and had my mind set on getting a car wash before Easter. When I looked at my watch, I realized that I had 9 minutes to get across town to get my car washed. I might preface the latter with I am so against road rage. I feel that too many people are in a hurry to get nowhere. However, I felt a frustrating road rage come upon me that afternoon, in that I knew I could get across town and in line for the car wash in 9 minutes...as long as nothing or nobody held me up. Of course you can already guess where this is going. I got behind two teenagers in front of me, with a dog in the drivers lap. They also were waiting to pull onto the interstate, but missed 4 opportunities to go during a break in traffic. After the 3rd incident I gently nudged my horn, after the 4th miss, I leaned on it a little harder. She finally went, but I made sure to make up lost time by laying on the accelerator in blowing past her on my way to my destination before it was too late. First, I acknowledge as frustrating as this was, this is s classic example of road rage. How could I have dealt with this better you might ask? I should have either gone to the car wash earlier in the day, washed it myself at home, or just skipped the wash. I definitely should have exercised patients to those two teenagers, and to that I am sorry. Either way, I did not expect the unexpected. My emotions riled up and came out of nowhere.
This past week one of my newer employees called me expressing frustration in how a customer talked to her and berated her over an audit she had just conducted. Years ago I attended a conference entitled "Drawing the Venom." It basically is advocating for letting the person vent their frustrations, and not getting sucked into their diatribe. It has bode well for me through the years, as once they get out their frustrations (which I might add most of the time have nothing to do with you) then you can move on to a productive and constructive feedback conversation. The trickiness with any method, is to not allow yourself to get defensive. We all have a natural tendency to put our defensive guard up in any matter we feel attacked. So my advice to my employee was to "Leave your emotion out of it." Is that truly possible.?
When I talk about allowing your emotions to lead you where they might, but to not let them control you, what does that look like and is it possible? I think it is, if you understand the path it tends to take you down. Allow me to elaborate. When you have a triage station set up in a battle field scenario, you are trying to triage the worst cases first. You might not be able to heal or save all of them, but you do what you can to mitigate the risk set before you. Life is all about mitigating risk. Whether it is the insurance that we buy for medical, dental, life, home, auto, or other risks. If you have a known tendency of getting frustrated in large crowds, than maybe you shouldn't go to Disney World. If you get frustrated driving in traffic jams, then maybe you should leave a little earlier/later, or take a different route. There are many examples of what you can tie these to, but some of these are examples of mitigating the risk of negative emotions controlling you. I was not asking my employee to not be sympathetic or empathetic to the case at hand. I do not want her to be a robot that is very crass and calloused. I just want to teach my team in a business environment that when the difficult conversations come, that they don't emotionally get sucked into the diatribe of the ranting customer.
So in summation, how do we allow our emotions to roam free, but not let them control us? I am not advocating for a suppression of emotions. That is a dangerous slippery decline that can either end in pent up emotions that will eventually explode, or in a spiral of downward decline in a persons mental health. What I am advocating for is to fully understand that God made us to to express emotions as His creation. Also to understand that satan tends to prey on the negative emotions that are left unchecked. It is always wise in life to know what your emotions are when they are set on a negative tilt, and to mitigate against that tilt turning you upside down. Be aware of what makes you end up in that rabbit hole, and steer clear, even if for a bit. I am not teaching avoidance, but rather timing. For example their are days I drive by the cemetery and just say out loud "Hi David." Other days I know I can handle it more, and walk out to his grave and say "Hi David." Just know what you can handle, mitigate the risk and bad emotional reactions out of your life, and then continue to more forward on a healthy track of emotions, as that is what makes us so delightful as humans!