Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.
How to take charge of your emotions
5 ways to rewrite your story and free yourself from the past
Everyone wants to enhance their quality of life. Everyone wants to be more fulfilled. But almost all of us get stuck at times in our limiting beliefs and emotional patterns. We make habits out of feeling frustrated, worried, sad or overwhelmed. This inability to take charge of your emotions prevents you from doing what you are really capable of – even if that something is just being happy.
While you cannot control the events that happen in your life, you can master how to stay in control of your emotions. People are always going to encounter stressful times. It’s how we react to them that determines whether we build the life we desire or allow obstacles to prevent us from reaching our dreams.
1. Change your perspective
It’s easy to take charge of your emotions until something bad happens. It could be losing a job, losing your health or even losing a loved one. Something happens that is outside our control, and it knocks us down. Tony Robbins tells us: “Stress. Anger. Sadness. These feelings don’t come from the facts. They come from the meaning that we give the facts.”
Of course, the terrible things that happen are real. But the question is, how are you going to allow that to shape your life? Are you going to let it tear you down, or are you going to use it to empower and enlighten the way you go through life? Are you going to go through life feeling constantly stressed and angry, or are you going to learn how to not let emotions run your life?
It’s all about the meaning that you give your experiences. Tony also asks us this powerful question: “What if everything in your life, including the most painful and traumatic events, was happening for you, not to you?” When you come up with a new meaning, you can get a new perspective, and, ultimately, a new life.
2. Rewrite your story
We unconsciously decide what events and experiences in our life mean; we do it all the time, but may not be aware of it. These beliefs create our world, affecting our intimate relationships, friendships, career aspirations and more. Yet these beliefs are often based on emotions rather than facts. When you take charge of your emotions, you can change the “facts” that make up your story.
Take a downturn in the economy, for example. One person could interpret that as, “I’m going to be broke.” Another person might say, “This means I’m going to work harder and I’m going to be more creative about saving.”
What do you think the outcome of this thought pattern will be for each of these individuals? Pretty different, right? Is it apparent why each will have very different approaches to life, and why each will experience very different emotions? That all comes from the meaning each person assigned to the event.
Now, let’s move to something a little more personal. Consider a woman who had been adopted as a baby. One path she could take is to devalue herself, to believe that because she was adopted, that she wasn’t good enough to be loved. She could also take the opposite approach, and consider the fact that someone chose her and chose to love her. What’s the significance of her decisions over what story to choose? How will this impact her decisions in her daily life? How will it affect her bigger decisions?
The former story creates a sense of loss, while the latter celebrates her life and her worth. When you learn how to be in charge of your emotions and rewrite your story, it impacts your whole life – because the decisions that control us are the decisions about meaning, and meaning equals emotion.
3. Trade expectations for appreciation
If choosing the disempowering story sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. We all tell ourselves stories that make us miserable when we could be feeling joy. We make ourselves feel sad, worried, anxious, shameful, guilty, fearful and enraged on a consistent basis. Why? Because we are wired that way. Your brain doesn’t naturally know how to not let emotions run your life – but you can teach it.
The human mind is always looking for what you could lose, what you could have less of or what you could never have. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a matter of survival and of protection. You are biologically wired to prepare yourself for the worst at all times. That is why it is up to you to take conscious control over the stories you tell yourself and the resulting emotions you experience.
To take charge of your emotions, trade your expectations for appreciation. If you do this, your whole life will change in that moment. And if you keep doing it, your life will change forever.
Let’s go back to the woman who was adopted. She expected her biological mother and father to keep her. And that expectation could have tainted her entire life. But if she shifted her expectations to appreciation that somebody picked her consciously and loved her, without the obligation or the biological imperative to do so, her entire life would change. This is the power of trading expectations for appreciation.
4. Develop self-awareness
You cannot learn how to stay in control of your emotions if you don’t know what those emotions are. The ability to recognize, identify and evaluate your thoughts, emotions and actions is called self-awareness. Some people go through life with no self-awareness at all. Some people are painfully self-aware. And many of us aren’t as self-aware as we’d like to believe.
Think of the example of the adopted woman. She might go through life playing relationship roulette, wondering why no one seems to love her. With self-awareness, she would connect her experiences in relationships to her fear of rejection. She would realize that she must first love herself before she can create a healthy relationship. Her entire ability to change her perspective and rewrite her story depends on her ability to recognize her emotions and connect them with her past. That’s self-awareness.
If you’re not able to take charge of your emotions, use strategies like self-reflection, journaling, meditation and seeking out new perspectives to develop your awareness of your emotions. From there, you can work on building emotional intelligence, or the ability to gage others’ emotions as well as express your own in a constructive way.
5. Take responsibility
Ultimately, you must decide to take charge of your emotions. Decide that you won’t be ruled by fear and anger any longer. Decide what you are going to focus on. What story are you going to let guide your life? You get to choose what meaning to assign. Commit to that meaning. This is the one power that you have right now in this moment that can change everything.
The only thing keeping you from getting what you want is yourself. The only thing keeping you from the joy you deserve is the disempowering story you keep telling yourself. What if you decided right now to offer yourself a new core of belief? What if everything in your life, including the most painful and traumatic events, was happening for you, not to you? What if everything was designed for you to actually have a greater life and have more to give and more to enjoy?
As Tony says, “Real freedom comes when you make the decision to stop allowing external events to shape your emotional experience.” You will only find this freedom by learning how to stay in control of your emotions and finding the empowering meaning in anything and everything that comes your way.