Mastering Emotions: Taking Your Life To The Next Level


How is your day coming along? Better, I am sure, than that particular day the crew of the Apollo 13 had as they were on their way home to planet earth.

The return flight of Apollo 13 will forever be one of the most momentous flights ever recorded in history. And what most people remember most vividly is the single remark: "Houston, we have a problem."

Now, life, and daily living in general, is a process, and an ongoing series of opportunities. Some of these opportunities are pure delight and pleasure and some are of a nature that calls for a different type of flexibility, resilience and persistence. The Apollo 13 crew faced a challenge that threatened their very physical existence on a level that would have defeated most human beings, because most human beings have never learned to master their emotions. What they have learned, instead, is to be led by their emotions, which is another way of saying being mastered by their emotions.

If there is anything that illustrates the importance of mastering emotions, the return trip of Apollo 13 does that. Because, far more important than the million upon millions of dollars that were at stake, human lives were at stake. The Apollo Crew brought themselves home safely, with the help of the Houston team, because they kept their heads, focused their minds on conscious and unconscious levels and thought and acted effectively.

And you might be thinking, "What does this have to do with me?" I am not an astronaut, and never will be.

I'll come back to that! Switching gears, I am wondering if you watched the first series of "The Apprentice"? If so, you know who Bill Rancic is. He is the one (out of 216,000 applicants) who became Trump's assistant, against all odds. I heard Bill speak recently and he described the experiences and challenges they were put through, including enduring 12 weeks sleeping only 1-2 hours a night, literally pushing them to the edge physically, mentally and emotionally. Perhaps that partially explained Omarosa! As for Bill Rancic, he demonstrated his ability to master his emotions rather than having his emotions master him, as most all of the other candidates did.

Again, you might be thinking, "What does this have to do with me?" I'm not going on "The Apprentice." Fair enough.

Yet every day, people you know, including yourself, encounter situations that call for mastering emotions, for emotional wisdom.

You might be a mom or dad-who in the past while in a store with your child, looked up and? your child was nowhere to be seen! What was your reaction? Now you understand the value of "mastering emotions!" And what about the college student going in for the final exam that is pivotal to her future? Or consider a recent experience of my oldest daughter, Dana, who graduates from the Loyola University/ Chicago this June. She recently worked all weekend on an important paper, only to lose it when her computer crashed. She had to write the paper again, having only a couple of hours to rewrite it. And that is exactly what she was able to do, because long ago she had developed the beliefs and skill sets involved in creating useful emotional and mental states required for such situations. And good that she had such ability, because in the beginning of her program, her class was told that within a year, only about half of them would still be nursing students. The rest would be driven out by the rigors of the program. In short, they were told that the ones washing out would not be able to handle the "stress factor."

What about the person being called into the boss's office, after many rounds of "downsizing?" Or the emergency room physician being confronted with the worst case she has ever seen, and more than that, has never before handled...knowing that a life is in her hands? Or the spouse who has just been informed by their partner that he or she no longer wants to remain in the marriage. And what about someone in your office that you would not wish on anyone else? Someone who does what they can on a regular basis to try to "push your buttons?"

The fact is, that on an ongoing basis, we are called upon to respond to situations, people and circumstances that call for emotional resilience, flexibility, focus, creativity, and the ability to keep our heads, so to speak.

Fortunately, every human being has an incredible opportunity to learn the skill sets, the beliefs, the values, and the behaviors that are involved in the matter of "Mastering Emotions." And with the phrase "mastering emotions," I am referring to mastering your own emotions and the emotional states and behaviors of others around you. Others, for the most part, have never learned how to effectively create what I call "useful states" for themselves. I will go so far as to say that most human beings have been taught precious little about mastering emotions?about how they can understand and resourcefully respond to their own emotions?and to the emotions of their significant other, their children, their extended family members, their friends, their colleagues, their bosses, managers or employees!

Normal And?Unhealthy

Most people that I talk to and interact with have very little comprehension of the fact that they are creating their own emotional states on an ongoing basis. By that I mean, most human beings believe that what creates their emotional states is the particular circumstance that they are facing, what someone has said to them, or what some individual did or did not do as they interacted with them. Going further, most people would say that it is "normal" to respond to "challenging circumstances" with anxiety, doubt, anger, and even with some degree of "helplessness." Well, I say, "screw normal." Because what I have found are ways to respond effectively and resourcefully to what many say cannot be responded to resourcefully and effectively! And how did I do that? Simply by observing the fact that others have learned to do so, and by asking someone who had mastered what I wanted to learn to teach and coach me how to do just that!

After all, I had learned how to respond in a less than resourceful way to many circumstances of life. And then I learned that all behavior is learned behavior. So, why shouldn't I learn how to master emotions? And that is just what I decided to do five years ago. That decision, and all that followed, was one of the wisest decisions I had ever made in my life. Period.

Now, I believe that if we cannot own our own emotions and take full responsibility for the emotions that we create for ourselves, it will be quite difficult, if not impossible, for us to create the life we truly desire. Where is the wisdom in creating stress for ourselves and those around us and at the same time expending our efforts toward our hopes and dreams? And that is precisely what we will do if we rely upon others and circumstances to create pleasurable and healthy emotional states for ourselves!

Because, life rarely goes exactly as we desire, does it? Human beings are far from perfect, and we have not found a way yet to put ourselves in an environment where all is as we desire. So you might select a "well formed outcome," then really go for it, and in the process of your journey, countless adjustments are called for! Others do not do as you would like for them to do, or perhaps the weather is not ideal for what you are going for. For instance, my daughter Jamie, who is in Spain studying for the semester had planned a weekend in the mountains recently and was very excited about her plans to being in the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains. However, the day before she was to head up the mountain, it snowed, and snowed, and snowed, and snowed, and snowed even more! The mountain peaks were inaccessible by car?and she made adjustments to her plans so she would enjoy her weekend. Now, how many people do you know who go off on vacation only to complain about this or that?because things do not match up to their expectations and demands?!

The Emotions of Life? Are Up To You

Consider the millions upon millions of human beings who wake up on a regular basis to "face the day," and do so with less than zest, vigor and passion for what they will be doing throughout the day.

Is life not too brief, and too precious to live that way? Is life not important enough for us to really learn, I mean really learn, how to create a rich and resourceful inner life, and a set of beliefs, values and behaviors that allow us to move through the day, the week, the month, so to speak, with a resourcefulness and flexibility to create the emotions we desire to experience, rather than being victims to circumstance or to other human beings?

Regarding "mastering emotions," there are skills that we can learn, such as how to build what I call a "Foundation State," which is quite easy and enjoyable to learn with some guidance, even over the phone. You can learn how to change certain beliefs through an exercise aptly called "The Belief Change Exercise!" Or you can learn how to easily, and yes I mean easily, respond "neutrally" to a past event that in the past was quite painful to you when you remembered it. When you learn how to use your brain in a different way, all of these things are quite easy. Curing phobias, eliminating stress, depression or anxiety. There will always be more than enough people telling us how hard it is to do what I have just described. They are locked into the same mindset of those who just knew that human flight via an aircraft was not possible, and that it would never be possible for sound to travel through wires, or that computers would never be small enough or affordable enough for the masses. So, believe what you will. As for me, I would rather follow someone who is doing what everyone else says cannot be done!

Helen Keller Illuminated The Way? Can Anyone See?

Now, just how does one go about learning how to master emotions? I am reminded of Helen Keller who had the wisdom to accept help from another human being who cared about her. Helen Keller understood the value of a teacher to accelerate the learning process. Now, do you think that her teacher, Annie Sullivan, always taught her in a pleasant and comfortable manner? Or did she, at times, have to push her, and push her hard?to awaken her? Surely there were times of confusion, frustration, and more. I was not there, so all I can speak to is that in time Helen Keller became one of the greatest teachers to grace this planet. She learned how to master her emotions, her frustrations, her patterns of stopping short of what she was capable of, and she went on to literally create the emotional states and behaviors that would take her where she wanted to go.

What a brilliant woman! She did what few will ever decide to do, and that is to ensure a bright future for themselves by learning the tools, the strategies, the beliefs, the behaviors that would generate emotional states to fuel their hopes and dreams! I am reading my second book about Helen Keller now, entitled "Helen Keller, Rebellious Spirit." She lived a remarkable life that was celebrated in books, articles, documentaries and photographs. She was the subject of an Academy Award-Winning film and a Broadway hit. Helen Keller met with every President from Grover Cleveland to John F. Kennedy. She counted among her friends famous individuals such as Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Carl Sandburg once saw Helen Keller onstage in New York City in 1922 and wrote to her, saying, "Possibly the finest thing about your performance is that those who hear and see you feel that zest for living, the zest you radiate, is more important that any formula about how to live life."

It seems that Helen Keller had a healthy spirit that rebelled against "normal." She went against the grain and decided to master her emotions rather than allowing them to master her, as most do.

Now I do not know about you, of course, and how much, or even if you really desire to learn how to master your emotions. I do not know how much, or even if you desire to learn how to respond resourcefully to those around you even when it appears that they are communicating and behaving in quite an unhealthy manner. Perhaps you are that rare individual who is truly desiring to get your life on a whole new level by mastering emotions. If you are that rare individual, I extend an opportunity to you, an opportunity to let me know what is on your mind. You can reach me at 630-747-7423 or by e-mail at: . I look forward to your thoughts.

To Your Best Future,

Alan Allard

Alan Allard, M.A., is a Life and Business Coach offering Private Coaching, Seminars and Keynote Presentations. He teaches others how to rapidly achieve levels of "unconscious competency" and to go well beyond their current level of success. Alan has a Masters degree and post graduate training in Counseling, Clinical Psychology and Family Therapy. He is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist. Free Coaching e-Letter at:

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