For a large part of my life I let my emotions guide me. I followed where they took me and for moments it was incredible. It was as high as high could be, but inevitably there were lows. The problem was those lows would be so much more intense and usually so much longer than the height of any high. And at some point that became too much to bare. Now I managed this typically with alcohol, not in the way that most people do, I didn’t binge, I didn’t get drunk every day but I drank and I drank every day. It was enough to take the edge off and I was heading in the wrong direction. But what I had really done, where I had really gone was to a place of constant numbness. I used frustration and edginess to protect myself from having to feel anything else as I was exhausted, burnt out and raw from the over stimulation of allowing my emotions make my decisions for me.
For a large chunk of my 20s this worked for me as my life was simpler, the lens I saw the world through was a little more rosy and I lived in a pretty positive environment. That environment was false and I was naïve. I live in a part of the world where oil dictates the economy and when oil tanked so did the hospitality industry and as more stress entered my neck of the woods I just went along with it. I was too young and had only really done the work on a surface level to try to be a better leader. I not done the deep work required to be an emotional being that still functioned with any consistency in the real world. I got jaded, I blamed, I spent most of my time trying to be right and point out why everyone else was wrong. I treated those I loved the worst. I am sure this sounds similar, I guarantee in some ways you can relate. I had all of the same signs that so many others did around me. Depression, anxiety, I ate like shit, drank too much, didn’t exercise and spent so much time talking about the past or the future. I never talked about the here and now. It was always better in the past or it would be in the future, if I could only get this to work or change. Funny thing is at almost the same time I would sabotage my positive future talk which was at least almost good. I would tell myself I didn’t deserve that, it would never happen to a guy like me and my personal favorites of your just a piece of shit that slowly destroys everything you touch or no one cares about you they only care about what you do for them. Those last two I personally loved and reserved for when I really felt like driving myself into the darkest places possible.
Now the verdicts still out. I can’t tell you if anyone cares about me personally or if they just care about what I do for them. That lens still slips over my eyes from time to time. But what I have learned is that the only way it is going to change is if I change. If I change my view of myself.
I am by no means an expert. I still have tough days. I still treat myself like shit and wallow in my own self pity on occasion. The thing I notice is that it isn’t as intense and I don’t wallow for as long. The biggest change for me. My emotions are now just guideposts. They are not the guide. I do not follow them. I use them to tell me when I am starting to head off course. I know this is such a subtle discrepancy and a lot of you may argue that it is really semantics and for sure it could be. But the way I view it in my head is what truly matters so let me try to explain.
I believe everything can serve a purpose in our lives. I didn’t always believe this or want to believe it but as you pay impartial attention it becomes undeniably true that the key to unlocking a great life is to utilize your emotions rather than them utilizing you. I am sure at this point in reading this you are like ok we fucking get it but how the hell do you do that? Aren’t emotions just our natural reaction to what happens to us externally? Yes. For sure they are but that doesn’t mean they need to be active participants in how YOU react externally. It was actually our good friend and Doula who imparted this thought while my wife was in labor. She simply told us that “almost nothing is an emergency and you have time to think”. I have carried this thought with me almost everywhere I go and it was this simple shift in thinking for me that helped me create more discipline in my life and unlock what I feel is trending towards real emotional freedom. Which is the freedom to feel the way I want to rather than the way the situations in my life may dictate. Now I am not professing any expertise. I’m just a guy on the path reaching for the next guidepost. I still get upset at the guy that cuts me off, I am no Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa. But those reactions are less and I can move them to productive action much quicker than I could before. I am an active participant in my emotional life versus just a guy in the boat heading down the emotional river waiting to see which rock would sink me next.
I really appreciate all of the support so far. Let me know in the comments what you think or if you have any questions. I would love to answer them. And if you are enjoying my content it would mean the world to me if you subscribed here and found me on the social media!