Years back, I was taping a series of four instructional videos. Each video was made up of a combination of martial arts drills, skills, teaching tips and a huddle discussion for kids. I had just finished the third video and was feeling great about the quality and content. Experience had shown me that in front of the camera, some days I had it and others… not so much. This happened to be a day that I had it and now I had only one more video to go. YES!!!
The third video was about the concept of self-control and how a mighty person is someone who has control of their emotions. During the break, my producer asked to speak with me. We stepped away from the crew and then they quietly told me that, due to technical difficulties, we would have to re-shoot the first three videos. Instantly, a wave of indignation enveloped me. I thought to myself, “How could this happen? Why didn’t you fix the problem after the first episode? Didn’t you see how good those takes were?” I was livid and just about to give them a piece of my mind when it hit me:”Who is a mighty person?” If I really believed that a mighty person has control of their emotions, then this was a great opportunity to practice.
It also hit me that, not only would I look silly by getting upset after talking about the virtues of self-control, but if I tried to re-shoot the former three videos in a less than empowered state, they wouldn’t turn out very well. Besides, it was an honest mistake and I have certainly made my share of those.
So, I took a deep breath, gathered myself up and calmly told the producer, “No problem.” Then, we shot four videos in record time and they turned out pretty good.
What strikes me about this incident was that somehow, some way, on that day I was able override my initial inclination to become angry. I started thinking that if I did it then, it stood to reason that I could do it again. A few days later, I shared this story with my father, who is a very wise man with over 50 years experience as a counselor and minister. I told him how I wished I could control my emotions like that all the time, but that it was hard. I also shared with him that I get angry at myself for being angry. It was then that he said something very profound to me. He told me the first step to controlling your emotion is to acknowledge and accept the emotion you are experiencing and, if you can do that, you’re halfway there. The second step is to decide a course of action. When you’re angry, this usually just means that you should try to be calm and not say or do anything stupid.
That conversation represented a subtle turning point for me. Afterward, when I found myself in a less than resourceful state of mind, I would say to myself, “I remain calm even in challenging situations.” This affirmation has become very powerful for me and has now become one of our mastery mindsets. I think the easiest way to increase your self-control is to try to practice this concept when you are faced with everyday issues. For example, the next time you open up the refrigerator and the orange juice falls off the top shelf and spills all over the floor, simply take a deep breath and say, “I remain calm even in challenging situations.” Then quietly clean up the mess. Over time, it will become easier and easier and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself calmly dealing with major issues.
As for me, I still find myself irritated or angry more often than I think I should. The difference is, now I’m usually aware of it (at least most of the time) and somehow that minimizes the effect those negative emotions can have on me.