"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." -- John Milton
Would you do me a favor? Stop whatever other thing that you're doing right now (because we women love to do some multitasking), close your eyes, relax your shoulders, take a deep breath and then (internally) ask yourself—"Am I happy?" If your answer is "yes", why? If your answer is "no", still why?
I'm willing to bet that no matter what your response is it, it has something to do with what is currently going on in your life. You love or hate your job. You are in a good or bad relationship. You do or don't have a nice amount of money in your bank account. You know what?
The one thing that all of these scenarios have in common is they are circumstantial.
Is that a bad thing? Kinda. On one hand, it's totally human to allow our circumstances to dictate our emotions. However, do you know what else living that way is? Dangerous. "Dangerous" in the sense of being emotionally hazardous and unsafe.
Why do I say that? Because when we let what is happening outside of us dictate how we feel within, that can result in us being some pretty emotionally unstable creatures. I don't mean the kind of women who should low-key end up on Snapped.
I'm referring to the kind of emotional instability that is so prevalent, it tends to go undetected far more than it should.
Severe mood swings? They are an indication of emotional instability. Going from 0-10 without real rhyme, reason or warning? That is an indication of emotional instability. Always being mad intense and controlling in relationships? That is another indication of emotional instability. So is not knowing how to deal well in stressful situations, doing everything in extremes and having knee-jerk reactions to stuff, more times than not.
There are two things that virtually all of these examples have in common with one another. One, they are usually the result of a culmination of issues that haven't been properly dealt with and two, they typically happen as the result of allowing our circumstances to control our feelings.
I know. A lot of us are so used to being slaves to our emotions that it seems impossible to imagine being able to decide how we feel despite what is happening in our lives. But, believe it or not, we are able to do just that. I say that because, what a lot of us overlook is that our feelings are kind of like the electronic thermometer in our house.
Emotions exist in order to make us aware of something or someone so that and we can then make the necessary adjustments to restore peace and balance in our lives.Giphy
Here's an example.
If one of your friends said something slick about you and you become irritated about it, that emotion is probably letting you know that you feel like some type of disloyalty has transpired. That very well may be true, but that doesn't mean that you should call her house, yelling and cussing. You can control whether or not you do that. Meanwhile, being irritated can also result in you taking the weekend to process what happened, shoot her a text to see if the two of you can meet up for coffee and then ask her to share what went down from her perspective. See what I mean?
Just because you felt a certain way that doesn't mean you had to react within that feeling. You have a choice. You always do.
Along these same lines, you can also choose to feel a certain way even if what is happening around you isn't exactly lining up with that emotion; you can "adjust the thermostat" so to speak. A good example of this is, contrary to popular reaction, you can choose to feel happy. Although a lot of us only think that we should feel glad or joyful when something is going the way that we want it to, there is another form of happiness that constantly gets overlooked. To be happy is also to be content, to be content is to be satisfied and to be satisfied is to choose to be cool with what you currently have—and don't have.
It’s about not letting your circumstances take power over you.Giphy
Here's how this works.
Say there's a promotion you really wanted that you interviewed twice for, but right when you thought you had it in the bag, someone from outside of the office was hired. The emotion that immediately comes to you is disappointment. That's both understandable and fair. But that doesn't mean you have to be unhappy. You can still have a form of contentment in the sense that you've still got a job, bills are still getting paid and since this particular gig wasn't meant for you, something better must be up the road. You can be happy about having the time and space to go after something with even greater personal potential (and pay). See what I mean? The circumstances sucked. You could still feel happy within them, though.
Even though I presented you with a hypothetical situation, I can personally attest to the fact that once I really started to focus on happiness being something I could determine I wanted to be, regardless of what was going on around me, my world totally changed for the better. It feels really good—indescribable even—to be in the kind of head and heart space where I realize that although my feelings can alert me to what's up, they don't have to run (or ruin) my life. I don't have to get on the peaks-and-valleys-roller-coaster-ride that my emotions try to put (and keep) me on.
I can remain in a space of total contentment (i.e., peace) because I choose to be NOT because of what's going on around me.
Girl, when you get to that point and place? The stability is truly life-altering! And the amount of things that you're able to accomplish from a place of stability? The sky truly is the limit!
Am I saying there is something wrong with being unhappy? I don't really think that any feeling is "wrong". However, what I am saying is if you think you have to succumb to that emotion simply because of your circumstances, that is simply not true. Your happiness and your circumstances are not soulmates; they can exist totally separate from one another.
All you have to do is choose for them to. It really is as simple—and self-empowering—as that.
Featured image by Getty Images