Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Turn Down the Dial

A month or so ago I was in a church meeting where the concluding speaker gave a thought that has swirled around in my brain ever since. I'll summarize his remarks.

Think about your dial of negative emotion. Call it a rating system if you like. Imagine that you're driving to work in the morning, you are rushed, running late for an important meeting, traffic is terrible, and you blow a tire. There you are on the side of the freeway, cars zooming past. It's hot and windy and you're late and you don't have time for this. Not to mention the expense of getting a new tire. ARGH!!!!! What's your rating out of 10? A 6? A 7? An 11? How often do you feel like you are beyond the highest rating of frustration? Keep in mind that the dial only goes to 10, and yet you rate yourself beyond it.

What if instead of blowing a tire you were in a car crash that killed your loved ones. If that's a 10 (sorry, I'm not giving you more than 10; the dial stops there) then what does your tire blowing incident become. A 2, maybe?

His point was that we need to turn down the dial of negative emotion in our lives. We need to have proper perspective when dealing with life's inevitable frustrations and troubles. Our society has become so stressful that we operate on a higher level of tension all the time. It also has become so self-centered that we think that everything should go our way all the time. When it doesn't we feel put upon, cheated, mistreated, etc. We complain about the sense of entitlement that people seem to have nowadays, but fail to recognize it in ourselves.

If we could turn the dial down and consciously choose to interpret our struggles as something to be dealt with rather than a catastrophe sent to ruin us, then we would have much greater happiness in our lives. Don't we all want that? It is up to us to choose to live after the manner of happiness. We must choose to act, rather than be acted upon.

So that's become my mantra lately:

"Turn down the dial of negative emotion."


The Spendloves said...

Such a good post. Definitely something I needed to read today.

Lissa said...

That was very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

I'm glad I read this- I must have missed it in church. Thanks for re-visiting it.

shelley said...

My kids' counselor has talked of this idea to us repeatedly. A few members of my family (myself included, at times) have a tendency to produce an "exaggerated emotional response to events". He gave us the same example of what warrants a 10 on the dial. When we respond in anger or frustration it helps to have someone else make a motion of turning a dial and say "dial it down." It really works!