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Have you ever had a moment when you let your emotions overcome you? Or have you ever felt unsure of your emotions, like you didn’t know if you should laugh or cry?

We all have. Lots of times. It’s hard to figure out, much less manage, isn’t it. For me, there are times when I am fully in charge of my emotions and feeling cool as a cucumber. Then there are other times when I completely succumb to them.

For example, I tend to be very calm and patient in difficult situations, especially with other people. I keep my emotions in check without letting any heat-of-the-moment circumstances affect them. Having a career in PR is like having a PhD in managing difficult people and situations. In addition, I serve as a volunteer mediator and arbitrator to help disputing parties work through their emotions and get to the heart of their conflict in order to seek resolution. As a result, I get an insider’s glimpse into real, raw human emotions on a daily basis. Maybe that’s why I’m surprised when I succumb to my own emotions at times.

This very thing happened to me recently as I was backing out of my garage in my Toyota Tacoma. Since it’s a truck, I must pay close attention to my side mirrors so I don’t hit the garage door frame when backing out. What I failed to do, though, was pay attention to my daughter’s car, which was parked in the driveway behind me. Yep. I backed straight into it. Naturally I was upset for a few minutes. Not at the situation, but at myself because I should have caught it. I went in the house (maybe huffing and stomping a little like a child) and loudly announced how I was the first to wreck the Honda Accord. I had taken good care of it for the past 11 years before handing it down to my daughter when she turned 16. To be honest, I kind of thought my daughter would be the one to damage it first because she’s a new driver!

My wife and daughter went outside to survey the damage. Kim was calm and said it was okay because it was an older car. Madison was even calmer, despite it being her car. I was the one who was not calm. The thing that made me upset was I had just damaged not one but two cars I own.

But, here’s the deal: it was really no big deal. Emotions are controllable. I get to choose whether I was going to have a bad rest of the day or not. And I didn’t. I quickly got over my initial anger at myself, surveyed the situation, and did what we so often do at Southwestern Advantage when unexpected challenges things happen—look for three positives:

  1. No one was hurt.
  2. I backed into the oldest car we have and not my wife’s newer car.
  3. Other people have bigger problems.

What I did was intentionally reason my way through the facts to change my perspective, which, in turn, changed my attitude. It’s not our emotions that get us into trouble. It’s how we let those emotions control our behavior that gets us into trouble.