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A Profound Truth About Emotions

Around 2,000 years ago the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius wrote in his private diary,

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil.

But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so, none of them can hurt me. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him.”

When we are feeling bad, many of us have the tendency to blame other people.

However, in his diary Marcus Aurelius was pointing to an often overlooked fact about our emotions: “Nobody has control over your emotional state.”

As I have mentioned in previous articles all events are neutral. But we assign a meaning onto a neutral situation so quickly and automatically, that we are not even aware that we are doing it.

As long as you believe someone out there has control over your emotions, your state of mind will always be under the mercy of how other people behave with you. This gives anyone the power to ruin your day.

We subconsciously hold the belief that people should treat us in a way that conforms to our wishes and desires, and so we become easily upset when that isn’t the case.

But in truth, it is our expectations of people that let us down, not how they treat us. If we didn’t have any expectation like Marcus Aurelius writes, they would not have the power to hurt us.

Now of course by saying this I don't mean to suggest that you should allow people to treat you rudely. But by adopting the right perspective it is indeed possible not to be bothered by how other people treat you and gain greater control of your emotions.

Instead of feeling anger or hate, we can consciously choose to feel compassion for those who Ill-treat you by giving them the benefit of the doubt and by understating that nobody who is happy and at peace with themselves will feel the need to treat you badly.

I’ll agree this is not always easy to practice, especially when emotions are running high. But nevertheless, it is important to remind yourself that your emotional state, irrespective of your outside circumstances, is always under your control.


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