Do your emotions go up and down depending on your circumstances? Probably so, it’s normal.
A better question is, do you soothe your emotions from inside or outside of yourself?
Soothing your emotions from outside of yourself is a concept called external locus of control. Meaning you rely on external ways to manage feelings.
Common cultural attempts to soothe feelings from the outside include: shopping, food, alcohol and other drugs, relationships, blaming, trying to change or control others, etc. Being temporarily relieving but not meeting the deeper emotional needs, these things can lead to addictions and compulsions. In other words they: 1. Provide some relief, 2. Never heal the real issues, and 3. Leave us always wanting more.
The belief that our happiness comes from things outside of our self leads to an endless cycle of futility. We chase money, success, Mr. or Ms. Right, and seek relief from things that can never provide real peace and contentment. Trying to change people and circumstances or exit from our emotions in order to feel happy, creates the more is better but never enough syndrome that plagues our society.
“But, what are other options?” you ask. Having an internal locus of control by feeling better through a process of change and growth. This is the only way out. An internal locus of control means knowing what you can and can’t control. Taking responsibility for how you feel and soothing emotions from the inside. Yes, someone may have triggered the feelings of hurt or anger but it is our job to help our selves with our feelings. Abdicating this responsibility means we become victims to other people’s bad moods, whims and things outside of our self that we can’t always control.
The following are examples of an internal locus of control.
- Having a loving and nurturing relationship with your self.
- Being you own inner champion vs. inner critic, i.e. soothing yourself vs. kicking yourself in the pants when you are down.
- Experiencing spiritual peace through prayer and meditation.
- Writing down your thoughts and feelings for personal discovery and growth.
- Engaging in psychotherapy to heal underlying causes of uncomfortable feelings.
- Learning self-help tools and processes for uncovering and exploring emotions.
- Choosing to be around people who support you in loving ways.
- Using tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, Breath Work, etc. to help release emotions from your body and turn off the fight, flight, freeze stress response, (more on these later).
Having an internal locus of control sets us on the path to true freedom and happiness by allowing us to:
- Self soothe in healthy and effective ways,
- Heal and resolve underlying issues or causes of our emotions,
- Stop fighting with our self, and
- Get to know and connect with our true self without being afraid of uncomfortable feelings.
But there is one benefit that is the greatest by far. Having an internal locus of control gives us the ability to take our hurts, fears and disappointments to a loving God. And experience the comfort and healing found there.