Although we all encounter experiences that prompt feelings that lead to emotional stress, these feelings need not control us. Realize that I’m not talking about stopping emotions you feel about a situation. You cannot stop an emotion directly!
You may have heard someone say, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” But the person cannot help it. I repeat to emphasize the point: No human can directly stop an emotion. That’s why emotional stress occurs. However, there is a way—a rock solid way—to control emotions, as shared by my experience below. I suggest that you visualize the scenario so it will go into long-term memory.
One day when I was an elementary school principal, a kindergarten teacher contacted the office for assistance with a youngster having a crying fit. I reached into my bag of tricks and pulled out a stethoscope given to me by a physician. I placed it around my neck and hurried to the kindergarten room. As soon as I approached the crying child, I knelt down to his level, looked him in the eyes, put the listening ends of the stethoscope in my ears, and then placed the end of the stethoscope to three places on the child’s chest. After just a few seconds, I proclaimed the boy to be healthy. The crying immediately stopped.
What I did was simple and the only way to change an emotion. I redirected the youngster’s attention. Be focusing on the stethoscope, the emotion was immediately changed and his emotional stress dissipated.
Redirect Your Emotions to Reduce Emotional Stress
The strategy of redirecting attention is a powerful way to change an emotion and thus reduce emotional stress. To emphasize: Emotion always follows cognition. If you want to change an emotion, redirect thinking.
This same diversionary phenomenon can be seen with teenagers. An adolescent girl is having an argument with her mother. The phone rings; it is one of the teenager’s friends. The daughter’s tone of voice immediately changes; it is suddenly friendly, even sweet. Upon termination of the call, the girl’s previous surge of emotion with the parent reappears—proving that by redirecting their attention, even teenagers can control their tempers. I personally witnessed this experience between our daughter and my wife.
There is nothing new about how mood follows thought. My grandmother knew this, which is the reason she said to my mother, “If you’re in a bad mood, here is what I want you to do: ‘Clean the stove’.”As my mother related the incident to me, when she was cleaning the stove her focus was on that activity, which in turn, prompted a mood change.
My new book, Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey, is now available as a Kindle book. This book will show how to use some simple strategies to significantly reduce your stress, promote responsibility, increase your effectiveness, improve your relationships, and truly enjoy life’s experiences.