I often talk about the need to learn to control your emotions. This is best described as responding rather than reacting.
There is a beautiful story that illustrates this:
A long time ago, when men lived by the sword, a wise man lived in a small community far away in the mountains. He lived simply and spent most of his time meditating. Occasionally people came to him for wise advice, which he was willing to give.
One day an arrogant young man came to see him. The man was a warrior and used his brute strength to get what he wanted in life. He came confidently into the place where the wise man sat and strode up to him. The warrior was used to getting what he wanted, when he wanted it. He strode towards the wise man and demanded he explain the idea of Heaven and Hell.
The wise man replied: “You are an ill-disciplined bully, why should I answer your question?”
The warrior was angered by this response and drew his sword and screamed to the wise man “I could kill you where you stand!”
The wise man replied, “That is Hell.”
The warrior was shocked by the wise man’s response. He found the wise man’s words calmed him and he put his sword back in its sheath. Then, humbled, he bowed and thanked the wise man for his answer.
The wise man replied, “And that is heaven.”
I love the way that story describes the difference between reacting and responding. We see the impetuous warrior initially react to the wise man. But wise man is calm and speaks without emotion. He responds with a carefully considered response which has the effect of calming the warrior. The contrast between the carefully considered response and the impetuous anger of the warrior is not lost on him. He feels foolish for overreacting and calms down. He then responds humbly. He has learned to respond to another instead of reacting.
The wise man equates hell as the difficult, conflict ridden, stressful life of those who react to situations.
In contrast, the wise man equates heaven as the smooth, peaceful life without conflict of those who choose to respond to situations.
Most of the time we can make a choice to stop and think, then respond. But we are not always capable of such responses. When situations in life trigger old memories, then we can find ourselves only able to react. It is helpful to seek counselling in order to change those triggers. I will explain more about that in the next blog.
This is an area of counselling I specialise in. Why not ring today to make an appointment to see me?