Emotions are incredibly powerful forces. They are able to propel you to achieve your destiny and overcome the most traumatic events, or they can cause you to become immobilized by small setbacks. Life will always present you with surprises, and you can only exert so much control over the world outside you. However, you always – always – have the choice to manage and balance your emotions.
It may not seem this way when your strong emotions get the better of you, but you don’t have to be at their mercy. You also needn’t remain in unhappy situations, unable to move forward because you’re convinced that you don’t have enough enthusiasm, courage, or determination to get out of your rut and onto the path of your destiny.
It’s important to realize that there’s no way you can have complete control over your emotions. Everyone has off days, and we all suffer the traumas that are a natural part of life. People die or move away, relationships come to an end, and disappointments occur. There will be times when you experience negative feelings, such as anger or sadness, as well as occasions when your positive ones, including confidence or happiness, aren’t as strong as you’d like them to be. Yet when you’ve developed your ability to balance your emotions, unexpected problems won’t knock you off balance as easily, and you’ll return more quickly to a positive outlook.
When your emotions are in balance, you probably don’t give them much thought. Whatever your situation, you’re feeling good. You want to do considerate things and be kind to other people because you’re in touch with your highest self and filled with love. You’re optimistic about the future, and you aren’t looking back at the past with regret. You’re content and peaceful, accepting things just the way they are, yet you’re also energetic and enthusiastic.
When you don’t feel this way, you could think that it’s because life has gone awry, but that’s not the case. You may miss your exit on the freeway and spend an unexpected 20 minutes doubling back, or you might open your credit-card bill and discover that you’ve gone way over budget this month, but neither of these experiences has to result in your becoming furious, completely stressed out, or terrified. You do have a choice about the way you feel, as well as how much fear you experience (as opposed to confidence), or your level of joy in relation to sadness.
I’ve found that when my emotions are in balance, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. I recognize the gifts I have and everything that’s wonderful in my life, and I put any problems that I’m experiencing into perspective. I feel compelled to contribute to the world, and my mind becomes filled with positive thoughts. However, when my emotions are out of balance, I focus on what isn’t working in my life instead of what is.
Recently, a friend of mine named Renee was driving her seven-year-old son home from school, and she was preoccupied with worry. She had a lot of bills to pay and was having difficulty making money. Her husband had been ill and unable to work, so they’d fallen behind on their mortgage. This was a serious situation that required her attention, but it didn’t demand her undivided attention every minute of the day.
As she drove, her son began to chatter away about the changing color of the leaves and how when a maple-leaf seedpod is thrown up into the air, it spins on its way down like a helicopter. Renee barely acknowledged what her son was saying because she couldn’t stop thinking about her financial situation.
When she pulled up to a red light, Renee looked over at her son and in a moment of awareness, realized that she was missing out . . . that her constant worrying was preventing her from truly listening and connecting to her child. Worse, she’d made a habit of half listening to him as she internally fretted about her problems. Renee realized that she wanted to snap out of her fear and choose a different emotion. She asked herself, What else could I feel right now instead of fear or worry?
Renee had several choices. She could feel:
- Gratitude that she was able to spend time with her son, and that the two of them were close
- Joy as she listened to him talk about what was on his mind
- Curiosity and genuine concern about what his day was like
- Confidence and faith in her ability to handle her financial crisis
In fact, she could experience all these emotions at once if she chose to. She might not be able to let go of her anxiety completely, but she also didn’t have to let it dominate her emotions. By allowing her mood to be overwhelmed by worry over one aspect of her life, she was dampening any positive emotions she might feel. Her emotions weren’t in balance, and everything seemed dark.
We’ve all had moments similar to Renee’s in which we realize that whatever emotion we’re experiencing, it’s not one that makes us feel good. Often our desire to return to feeling better is enough to inspire us to try to change our emotional balance.
Emotions and Destiny
Balancing your emotions is crucial because it allows you to reach your destiny. You have to be able to minimize negativity and raise the volume on those feelings that will most help you.
Many people don’t think much about their destiny, and may even be intimidated by the term, mistakenly believing that something as grand as “destiny” is reserved for historical figures, spiritual leaders, and famous people. I firmly believe that every one of us has a destiny, and to discover what it is, we have to connect with what makes us feel the most vibrant and joyful. Then we can harness the power of our emotions to achieve that destiny.
Some people feel that destiny is predetermined, but I agree with Neale Donald Walsch’s take on it, which he so beautifully expresses in his book Conversations with God (Book 1): “Each soul must choose—is choosing—its own destiny this instant.” I believe that every one of us makes our own destiny, and we experience it when we find ourselves in a state of contentment and peace, sensing a deep connection to the sacred. One person might experience bliss simply working in his or her flower garden, bringing forth beauty in that small corner of the world. Another might experience it while speaking in front of large crowds, inspiring them with his or her words (while someone else might find this experience about as “blissful” as root canal!).
Your destiny might be as simple as being the neighbor with a ready laugh who always reminds others to find the humor in any experience. In fact, if you look back on the people who’ve most influenced you, bringing you joy and inspiring you, I’d bet that many of them led very simple lives.
If you’re not sure what your destiny is, ask yourself these questions:
- What makes me feel most excited, vibrant, and alive?
- Is there anything I do that I love so much that time just seems to fly?
- Is there a particular activity that puts me most in touch with my spirit and with the sacred?
Keep in mind that your destiny doesn’t necessarily define what you do for a living, although it may. If your destiny is to heal others, you might become a surgeon, a psychotherapist, or an acupuncturist—or you could spend your time repairing rifts between other people even as you heal your own emotional wounds. If your destiny is to make other people feel joy and connect with their spirit, you could become a famous entertainer, or you might sing in a church choir.
When you look at how you spend your time, ask yourself: Does doing this help me achieve my destiny? Does it make me feel in touch with my passion, joy, and spirit . . . or does it take me away from them? When I’m following my destiny, I feel bliss—and what’s more, I experience success at whatever I choose to do, whether it’s helping people publicize their books or being a good parent to my son, Michel, by listening to him and emotionally supporting him as I drive him to hockey practice or fix his dinner.
One thing I’ve learned about destiny is that trying to define it very narrowly and thinking that it has to unfold in a very specific way, according to a precise timeline, can cause me to feel disappointed or unhappy. I always want to have enough money and resources to help me achieve my destiny of assisting others in understanding themselves more deeply and feeling better about themselves, but I used to be very particular about what those resources should be and when the checks should arrive in my mailbox! I would tie my goals into a timeline: “By next fall, I’ll have accomplished such and such,” or “By January 1, I’ll have x amount of money in the bank.”
I’d also try to figure out exactly how I’d reach my goal and then get frustrated or fearful if things didn’t turn out exactly as I’d planned. I came to recognize that I could stay true to my destiny yet be open to the many ways in which it might unfold. I also learned to trust in the timing of the universe, rather than panicking if what I desired didn’t come to me when I thought it should.
Four years ago, I wanted to start spending more time giving speeches and conducting seminars, but I ended up helping authors publicize their books through the Internet. I’m still achieving my destiny—I’m just doing it in a different form than I’d expected. I can’t guarantee that ten years from now I’ll be doing the same work, and I know that in a decade Michel will be driving himself wherever he wants to go and making his own meals. He won’t need me to take care of him as he does today, but that doesn’t mean my destiny will change. I’ll just be following different opportunities to nurture my son, just as I may find new ways to help others with their self-growth.
When you’re on the road to your destiny, you can sense it. Don’t talk yourself out of doing what you’re meant to do just because you feel scared for some reason or don’t know what turn to make next. It may take a while for your next opportunity to reveal itself. You’re never wasting time as long as you’re keeping your eyes and your heart open to possibilities for achieving your destiny. You might be learning something crucial to what you’ll do in the future.
I know someone who majored in Latin in college much to the amusement of her friends, who thought that it was a useless and impractical field of study. She loved the analytical skills that Latin required, and developing them aided her in being able to understand and design computer-network systems. She now has a job she loves doing just that. In helping other people overcome their fear of technology and use it as a tool to do what they want, she feels that she’s living out her destiny of making the most of her analytical skills and teaching others how to accomplish their own goals. Now she works part-time because she has children, and she’s teaching them how to solve problems and achieve their aspirations, so that’s a part of her destiny, too.
Whatever your passion is, don’t dismiss it just because you think other people might consider it uninteresting or unimportant. If you feel most alive and joyful when you’re walking your dog or planting vegetables in your garden, reflect on what it is about those experiences that so inspire and engage you. It may very well lead you to discover what your destiny is.
When you’re in your bliss and achieving your life purpose, your emotions are in balance. So, if you’d like to return to that state and align yourself with your destiny, you can choose to bring yourself back into emotional harmony.
Stay tuned for part II…
It will look like this: Your Destiny Switch – The Power of Your Emotions Part I