How Can We Overcome Destructive Emotions?

Hello! Seiiti Arata. When things get out of control, somehow we need to develop fortitude and self-control. I’m not advocating that we extinguish or deny emotions (on the previous video on How to Control Your Worry – you will remember that the state of denial leads to anxiety).

Instead of repressing emotions, we will transform them through clear judgment and inner calm. This video is about how we can use logic and concentration to achieve a better state of tranquility. When you finish this video you will be better equipped to deal with uncertainty, with problems and stress, transcending life’s adversities.

Interpretation of circumstances - Seiiti Arata, Arata Academy

And here’s the key idea that I ask you to write down. Are you ready? Here it goes:

People are not disturbed by things but by their interpretation of things.

I will repeat: People are not disturbed by things but by their interpretation of things.

In other words, it is not outside events that make us feel something. It does not matter what other people say, how the weather looks or what kind of car we drive. None of these things matter compared to something much more powerful: our interpretation of things. Ultimately, what affects our internal peace and stability is the story we tell ourselves inside our heads.

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For example, it is not the traffic jam that is stressful, or that office colleague that is stressful. It is our thoughts about these circumstances that are causing us stress. In essence, we cannot always control what happens to us in our lives, but we can control how we react to what happens.

Now some of you may disagree with this idea, but stay with me. Notice our tendency to blame or place undue emphasis on other people and external events. The economy is bad. The politicians are dishonest. Our boss is not fair. But the actual source of stress is how we interpret things like these.

But what if I’m able to change jobs, or find ways to indefinitely circumvent traffic jams, or not ever have to deal with a boss that yells at me? Is constantly controlling or changing my circumstances the answer to how I can have peace and stability in my soul?? Or am I just running from reality and seeking a short-term fix that does nothing to help me to develop long-term resilience?

The more we protect ourselves, the more vulnerable we become - Seiiti Arata, Arata Academy

For instance, when I was a child, I was allowed to run around the block with my friends and I would get dirty, or sometimes I would drop a cookie on the ground and  would eat it when no one was looking. But children today live in a literal and figurative germ-free world, inside protective walls which actually serve to reduce their critical thinking and ability to cope with the inevitable challenges and adversities inherent to life. In fact, in many ways, the more we protect ourselves (and our children), the more vulnerable we become to the many circumstances of our lives that are ultimately beyond our control.

When we are exposed to misfortunes, we can use them as opportunities to strengthen ourselves. People who have never been unfortunate are lacking the opportunity to acquire the tough skin they could otherwise develop by enduring hardship. The ability to adapt is crucial, and this ability can come by no other means than to be exposed to adversity and to develop the skills necessary to overcome it.

Ready for anything - Seiiti Arata, Arata Academy

Moreover, when we stop running away from the challenges of life, we can truly appreciate the times of peace. Thus, learning to adapt and overcome the inevitable adversities in our lives gives us the means to be sincerely grateful for what we have, and thereby, experience a joy that transcends the circumstances of our lives.

The next time you run into an obstacle and feel resistance, don’t become overly fixated on what’s around you. Instead, look within.

We can change things that we have control over, but we must also be able to recognize and accept the things we can’t change. Indeed, we should give it our best shot to solve problems, but we must also be prepared in case the desired results do not materialize. We must be engaged and optimistic, but also ready for anything.

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And above all, we must not be fearful or too concerned about what does not matter, as this drains precious emotional energy and mental clarity that we could otherwise use to solve our problems, and to be able to discern what is solvable from what is not.