Emotions Are Like Towns

[3-Minute Read + Video]Emotion regulation is the ability to exert control over your emotional state.

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Emotions Are Like Towns

Lately, I’ve come to think of emotions like towns. I get to choose where I visit, when, and how long I stay as I navigate life.

VIDEO: Today’s intro is recorded in Carinda, NSW Australia

Emotion regulation is the ability to exert control over your emotional state. Developing it as a skill gives you greater choice in how you respond in a given moment. Making better choices also feeds your long-term well-being.

Emotion regulation demands a continuous, often treacherously steep, learning curve because the range of human emotions is infinite. We never perfect emotion regulation but we can get darn good at it.

In today’s story, I share one technique that serves me well. I think of emotions as towns on a vast psychological map. It’s a fun and creative way to process what I’m feeling. I might linger in some places and put down roots in others, but there’s always a new one to explore.

I choose to visit some towns.

Every Saturday morning, I reserve an hour for housework. To motivate myself for a task that I consider onerous I intentionally visit the town of Anger. I spark my mind to get frustrated or irritated about something, anything, and the adrenaline transforms my cleaning spree into a mission. Those germs don’t stand a chance!

Once I accomplish the mission, I leave Anger with a sense of achievement and a cleaner space, ready to enjoy the rest of my weekend.

Each town on the map has a different attraction.

  • Guilt serves as my moral compass;
  • Curiosity fuels my thirst for learning and
  • Neutrality is my go-to when weighing different views.

So you can see how my town map works. It’s allowed me to adapt, move forward, and enrich my journey through life.

But not all towns are planned stops.

Grief, Love, and Joy are like the hamlets you stumble upon during a road trip.

Grief is often found a long way from its intended location. I permit myself to stay as needed, knowing it’s not a permanent address.

Now, Love and Joy, on the other hand, are towns where I’m happy to extend my stay indefinitely. Leaving these places is hard, but life’s journey must go on.

VIDEO: David Bowie featured Carinda in his video clip for Let’s Dance as a statement on endemic racism in Australia.

Viva Las Vegas!

Welcome to Arrogance, a town where the neon glow from its streets tantalises and teases with the promise of forbidden fruit.

It rejects the order of white picket fences and flag poles that I try to construct across its landscape.

Arrogance is the Las Vegas of emotions and it has a confidence that offends. It seduces its residents with the belief that they are more intelligent, more deserving, and always right.

Arrogance can be confronting and uncomfortable but that doesn’t make it wrong. It emboldens me to believe one person can change the world and strengthens my willpower to push resistance aside and carve new ground.

Cognitive dissonance, the mental arguments Arrogance ignites, is the precursor to revolutions, like the rumbles before an earthquake.

But most of the time I prefer to sit on the city limits and gaze at the bright lights rather than live under their glow.

I fear getting lost in its streets and addicted to whatever it’s selling. Staggering around drunk on my own ego gets boring after a weekend.

I’m happy to wander into town when I have something worth fighting for but I won’t be buying real estate there anytime soon.

For me, true joy comes from learning—a process that thrives on humbly acknowledging that I can always know more. Arrogance has a blanket ban on learning; it’s a criminal offence.

So, as much as I might flirt with the idea of spending a night in Arrogance, my personal growth and joy will come from other places. I’ll keep my map open and my compass handy and walk a little further down the road.

Sean competed in the Carinda Campdraft while we were in town.

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

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