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The Power of Choice in How We Feel

Day by day, we so often live our emotions dictated by the reactions and responses of the people around us.

We feel hurt when others don’t agree with our point of view, or when someone says something off-hand and thoughtless. We almost always take it upon ourselves to bear the burden of emotion.

Perhaps it’s because we are taught as young children that our joy and happiness needs to be dictated by the moods and living conditions of our parents. While each young child, strives to bring a smile to their parents faces, with worldly worries and demands, parents often don’t realise just how powerful their reactions are to the innocent lives of joy.

From a very young age then, we learn and start to believe that when someone says ‘I don’t want to be your friend’, somehow it is our fault – that we have done something wrong or when a person is rude or unkind, it is something that we have done to cause them to say that.

Nothing we ever say or do, can control how others choose to behave around us or towards us. As soon as we start to realise that we never can and we never will ever be able to control what others say or do (Remember that Clause about Free Will, and all that) we start living our own lives completely for ourselves, from ourselves.

Just as we are not able to control what others choose to say, do or think, every time we choose to react negatively, we are inadvertently ‘giving our own amazing power away’. When someone else is able to dictate, just how we should feel or think about ourselves, we have offered them power over our emotions.

So just how can we start being true to ourselves?

1. Choose exactly how you want to feel

Regardless of what someone has said or done, the power to choose exactly how we want to feel (or react to) about the situation, lies very very much within ourselves.

We can choose to be upset or worried as much as we can choose to laugh off an unkind remark. All our reactions are our own choice. If a bout of laughter works simply because it makes us feel better, then it certainly is our prerogative to do that. It is not any more cruel or rude to laugh at an unkind remark than it is to make the unkind remark in the first place.

So next time some one has something to say to you that is less than complimentary or happy, smile, laugh share the joy in the hilariousness of the situation. Lighten up the load and always, always choose to feel good about yourself.

2. Stop, Breathe and Let it go

Sometimes hurts cut really deep, and as much as our conscious states of mind tell us that we can make choices that are better for ourselves, occasionally these are difficult things to do.

If you find yourself in just such a situation, you might like simply pause for a moment. Bring yourself right in to that moment and take a deep breath.

Remind yourself that you are so much more than whatever has been said or done to you (if saying it once doesn’t work, keep repeating the message). And when you’re ready, let it go.

There is a well-known Zen story that relates to being able to ‘let go’.

Two monks, one senior and one junior were on a journey when they came to a river that they needed to cross. By the banks of the river, stood a beautiful woman who also needed to get to the other side. She asked them for help.

The senior monk obliged and carried her across upon his back. Setting the woman down on the other side of the banks, she said her thanks and went upon her way.

The monks too continued on their journey. As they walked on, the senior monk cheerfully enjoying the walk while the junior monk was seemingly very disturbed about something. After a while it was clear that whatever was bothering the young monk needed to be resolved, the older monk asked him ‘Brother, you seem to be in great distress. What exactly is bothering you?’

At this point the junior monk burst out, ‘Brother, how could you even think of carrying that woman on your back when you know full well that we have taken vows never to come in to contact with women?”

Upon hearing this, the older monk smiled and said, ‘Brother, I left that woman on the side of the river hours ago and yet you are still carrying her’.

So just as the older monk had let go of the woman, by the side of the river, leave the hurt, worry and pain that you feel and remember, you can let it go.

3. Nobody ever does anything TO you

As we are often so caught up in our own perceptions of the world, we forget that the reality is everyone too is functioning within their own ideas and perceptions of the world. When someone does or says something that seems wrong or unkind to you, it is most likely that they are not even aware of their own actions.

If we can begin to understand that everyone is entitled to make choices about how they behave, and leave it simply as their choice to be however they wish, we begin to understand that other people’s behaviours are generally never aimed at making us feel bad – only we can do that to ourselves.

4. Lessons all around

If we can begin to see that there is always something for us to learn from each and every person we interact with, we would come to value every experience, no matter good or bad. Over time we will always come to find that each encounter offers us an opportunity to learn more and enjoy our own lives more.

Take care, keep smiling and be happy.

Over to you: Is there anything you would like to share or add? We would love to hear your thoughts or experiences.

About Li-ling

Li-ling is passionate about living life happy and believes that everyone deserves a happy life. Be Happy HQ is where she shares this message with the world. She very strongly believes that happiness is a choice and that we only need to know how to make this choice, even under challenging circumstances. She reads everything and anything that strikes an interest from motivation and self- help books to biographies and fiction.


  1. Hi Li-Ling,

    I love the message you’re conveying in this post. Learning to have control over my own feelings is something I’ve been working on a lot in recent years, helped in great part by the teachings of Anthony de Mello – I’ve found his Awareness teachings very powerful – challenging, but inspirational. I’m familiar with the story of the two monks, but haven’t heard it for a while, and enjoyed reading it again.

    It gives us a great sense of freedom when we wake up to the fact that other people can’t control our emotions – that it’s all down to the choices we make for ourselves.

    • Hello Sue, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story and experience. I had forgotten that I too have loved Anthony de Mello books (among them The Song of the Bird, The Prayer of the Frog) and have been reading them since very young. They were so precious that I eventually bought my own copies, but had completely forgotten about them, so thank you again for reminding me.

      You are so completely right in the way you describe the freedom in realising that no one but ourselves are responsible for how we feel, the challenge is in the practise and slowly slowly, we will get there. :)

      Take care

  2. Charity begins from home and so does the happiness which begins from ourselves. We are the creator of our own circumstances. I am actually a strong follower of LOA and I believe each word said in it.
    Thanks for sharing such beautiful thoughts.

    • Charmie, I’m glad you enjoyed this article. You are absolutely right that we are in complete control of our experiences and circumstances, sometimes we forget just how powerful we really are. But, it’s ok to forget, because when we remember – it is all the more amazing! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. When you are in the mode of best feelings the universe will lead you towards more of the good and it gets multiplied and hence your feelings takes you towards the happiness. Feelings are thee major cause of what you are and what can you achieve in life.
    Practising the gratitude is the best way to uplift your feelings.

    • The state of mind in which we find ourselves has a huge amount of influence on how we see the rest of the world around us. Being grateful certainly creates a very positive feeling within. Thank you for stopping by Charmie.

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