“Comfort in expressing your emotions will allow you to share the best of yourself with others, but not being able to control your emotions will reveal your worst.”- Bryant H. McGill
What is the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat? A thermometer is a tool which displays the temperature of the environment it is in. It simply reflects the air temperature around it. A thermostat on the other hand, regulates the environment. When a temperature is set it will turn up or down the heat to keep the air temperature it controls stable. A thermometer reacts to the environment, a thermostat controls the environment. This a critical difference. In life, many of us have never been taught that we actually have a thermostat to control our emotions. We live believing we only have a thermometer. When something happens we get angry. We believe we can’t control the anger, it just comes up from within us. Many people live believing that they are at the mercy of their emotions and the outside circumstances determine how they feel. When a car cuts them off in traffic, they immediately respond with anger. There is yelling, cursing and maybe even some gestures. When the thermometer reads danger or fear they simply react to the circumstance with whatever emotion comes up. What if we forced ourselves to look at that situation differently? Instead of telling the story about how the driver in the other car is inconsiderate and doesn’t know how to drive, how would their emotion shift if they found out the person in the car was on their way to the hospital after getting a call that their child was just in a serious accident? Instead of having rage toward the other driver, there would be compassion. In life there are many circumstances and events that we don’t have any control over. We do, however have complete control over how we respond to those events. When we take responsibility for setting our thermostats and monitoring when the thermostat is out of control we begin to live our lives differently. There is a difference between experiencing an emotion and becoming an emotion. Whenever you notice your thermometer reading an extreme temperature, take a moment to push pause and become curious about your choice of how to respond to the situation. Simply taking a few deep breaths in the moment can help to regulate the temperature and make it a more comfortable space for everyone.