Riding the roller coaster of emotion

I want to start this a little differently.   I have a scenario here and a quick poll related to it.

Let’s start by laying out the scenario.

  • The place:  Crowded parking lot like Wal-Mart or a Mall.
  • The participants:   Driver in a car and a Pedestrian.
  • Visibility: slightly limited

The driver is in the car and getting ready to back out of the parking spot.   Driver looks carefully both ways and the aisle is clear as far as the driver can see.  The driver slowly starts to ease out of the spot when a pedestrian appears and walks right behind the moving car causing the driver to slam on the brakes.

Driver thinks:  I almost hit him!   Why don’t people understand that this isn’t just for walking, people are driving cars here and you can’t just walk behind one that is moving.   What a stupid thing to do!  How am I ever going to get out of here if no one will stop and let me finish backing out.

Pedestrian thinks:  What an idiot.    He should have seen me and stopped.   It doesn’t matter if he was moving or not, I have the right of way because pedestrians always have the right of way.

Put yourself in the place of the driver and think about how you would react.   Then switch places and put yourself in the place of the pedestrian and think about how you would react.



Congratulations if you chose the last answer!

The interesting thing here is that both the driver’s reaction and the pedestrian’s reaction are ‘valid’ emotional reactions.  Emotional reactions should typically be followed by objective reactions and thought however.   Maybe he didn’t see me or Maybe I should have waited a moment more first.   It’s this ability to temper our emotional reactions with objectivity and/or logic that allows us to navigate the ups and downs of living.

Consider a toddler.   They haven’t learned objectivity and they haven’t learned logic.   They are ruled by their emotions, which is why it is so important for Mom and Dad to guide and teach them self control.   Have you ever seen a young child totally out of control in a temper tantrum?  Their high level of emotion at that moment makes it almost impossible for them to regain self control without assistance.  That assistance can take on many forms, from a firm hand to getting the child into a quiet place where they can’t get the attention they are seeking.

Being emotional is a great thing.  Our emotions help us to connect with other people and to form long lasting bonds.   Our emotions drive our compassion and help us to feel empathy for others.  But being emotional all the time has it’s down sides as well.

Living ruled by emotions is exhausting and a frequent cause of ‘mental breakdown’ and hampers the ability to move through daily life without feeling like it’s a constant roller coaster of ups and downs and twists and turns to the point that it’s impossible to get through.

It can cause relationships to fracture and friends to disappear.  It can cause coworkers to want to keep their distance and cause tension between parents and children.  It can color every situation we look at and every decision we have to make to the point that we are unable to make those decisions or navigate the situations.

That roller coaster can take a significant toll on your health and well being.  The price it extracts is more than many of us can pay.

How about you?   Are you riding the batman of emotional roller coasters or are you riding the kiddie roller coaster that has more level, smooth places than ups and downs?

Here are some things you can do to ease off the roller coaster.

  • Read your bible and pray.  Studies show that people who read the Bible and pray have less major stress related health problems
  • Get a hobby
  • Volunteer for an activity that focuses on helping others
  • Visit a retirement center or nursing home and talk to the residents
  • Walk
  • Join a book, sewing, quilting, chess, dancing, dining or other kind of club
  • Start a book, sewing, quilting, chess, dancing, dining or other kind of club

Whatever you do, be kind to yourself and let that roller coaster take a day off, or a few days off or even a few years.



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