Do you want to control your emotions? To suck back tears and never moan? To stop scuffs that break out while ordering McDonald’s double-doubles?
Well, I’d love to seem smooth and suave—like Audrey Hepburn. So, I Googled royal etiquette: cross legs at the ankles, fold hands on lap, lift chin parallel to the floor, and smile. Oh, and carry a clutch.
Wait, a clutch?
I can’t carry a clutch, I carry luggage. I bust laptop bags with books. I jam-pack backpacks with gym clothes. To me, a clutch is like stuffing Jack Black in a speedo. Doesn’t fit and doesn’t float.
For me, suave’s far-stretched, so I’ll strive for even-keel. Sadly, I’m rife with giggles and red-eyes. I’d bawl in my cubicle while swaying to Hindi love songs. That is, until my fed-up boss offered me the corner office. And not long ago, I coiled in an X-ray waiting room when a leathery woman sized me up and croaked, “You’ve got a nervous laugh.”
I’d love to act as even keel as Papa. His toes twirl while his voice gently cracks as he takes frantic calls during blizzards. His eyes blink once or twice as he clicks the channel when his missus yells. Nothing phases Papa. I’m no Papa—but I’m calm. When Papa’s missus curses me, I let a nervous giggle.
So, how do we manage emotions? Begin by second-guessing assumption. Focus instead on facts. For instance, if I think drunk McDonald’s patrons drive away sales, that’s an assumption. But if a drunk McDonald’s patron growls, “Hooker!” and chases me out the golden arches, then I’ve made my case: I balked on a dollar double-double.
Authors Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky tell how to control your thoughts and moods in their book Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think.
- One thought can shape your life.
- So, check your thoughts: “Identify what you are thinking and to check out the accuracy of your thoughts before acting” (pp. 16-17).
- Why? Because faulty thoughts spur bad behaviors: “Our thoughts about an event or experience powerfully affects our emotional, behavioral, and physical responses to it” (p. 2).
- And helpful thoughts groom great outcomes: “Our thoughts and behaviors are usually closely connected. For example, we are more likely to try to do something if we believe it is possible” (p. 18).
- Beware automatic thoughts: “’Automatic thoughts’ … simply pop into our heads automatically throughout the day” (p. 52).
- Why beware automatic thoughts? Because our automatic thoughts can lead us to act in strange ways: “Thoughts often occur rapidly, automatically, and just out of our awareness. We sometimes act out of habit, and the original thoughts that led to these habits have been forgotten” (p. 19) …
- … which means “You will notice times when you … experience a mood that doesn’t seem to fit the situation” (p. 50). In other words, you’ll act odd and unreasonable without knowing why.
- So, stop faulty thinking by focusing on facts and not interpretations: “‘Facts’ are generally things that everyone would agree on in a situation … ‘Interpretations’ are things people looking at the same situation might disagree about” (p. 72).
Not all drunkards at McDonald’s brawl. Yet, a wild-eyed McDonald’s stray rapped loudly on my window as I waited alone in the car. Shocked, I looked away. Haunted, I later discovered the media nicknamed that location “McCrack’s.”
So, here’s a mindbender: How many facts does it take to avoid double-double trouble?