Sometimes, in order to avoid acting on my emotions or reactions, I find that it helps to separate them from myself. I even imagine an emotion as a separate ‘person,’ giving me bad advice. How I see that person depends on the feeling. Anger reminds me of the sidekick to the bad guy in teen movies in the 80’s. Most teen movies back then had a bad guy; typically he was a ‘jock’: good looking, popular, and obnoxious. He always had a group of cronies around him. Usually they laughed at all his jokes, always told him he was right, and were always willing to egg him on to take things too far. Whenever someone said anything to the main bad guy, the sidekick was quick to ask, “Are you going to take that?” These cronies were often pretty dumb, but loyal. They gave horrible advice, and never let the bad guy know when he was acting dumb himself. They were always pushing him to take things further and manipulating him into doing things that he might regret later. So imagine anger like one of these cronies, egging you on to act in a stupid way that you will regret later. ‘He’ blindly and unconditionally tells you that you are right, even when you are not. Not much of a friend.

I imagine fear as a bully. Trying to stop me from what I want to do. ‘He’ tries to intimidate me when there is really little to fear. Standing between me and things I want. Like people often say, the trick to this bully is standing him down (although I don’t always think that is true for other bullies in real life). If you stare this bully in the eye and don’t let him intimidate you, he’ll back down eventually. He can only stop you if you let him.

As for depression, I see that as a downer. Imagine a person who is ALWAYS negative and pessimistic. That is depression. He hangs around and points out the negative in everything. He tries to rain on every parade. Now imagine that when he comes around, you don’t have to listen to him. He’s there. You can’t make him leave. But you don’t have to listen to him. Just because he points things out does not mean you have to let that affect your mood or outlook.

This method can be helpful for any undesired feeling. Imagine any feeling that creeps up that you wish wouldn’t. Now imagine that you can ignore that feeling until it finally gives up and goes away. It may not work every time, but it can’t hurt to try.


* * * *


“Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty

stinging clear

And I can’t help but ask myself how much

I’ll let the fear take the wheel and steer

It’s driven me before, it seems to have a vague haunting mass appeal

Lately I’m beginning to find that I should be

the one behind the wheel”            -Incubus [i]


[i] From the song Drive (1999)


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