how to master your emotions | emotional intelligence

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It’s sometimes referred to as the spirit or the breath of life.

It prescribes our actions and colors our world.

The one who can master the emotions can master actions, and the one who masters actions is

the master of all future realities.

Today we look at the stories of 2 different men, 2 different world views, 2 different

goals, and, ultimately, 2 different paths.

This is Alexander.

He belives that there are two kinds of people in the world: the conquerors and the conquered.

If you want to be great, you have to become a conqueror.

It’s a dog eat dog world, and only the fit survive.

You have to determine who will conquer with you and whom you must conquer.

Alexander read a lot as a kid.

He fell in love with Greek heroes who displayed the highest virtues: courage and bravery.

They were leaders — not followers.

He didn’t have much as a kid and had to work hard for everything he had.

This led him to believe that a persons life is the outcome of their actions and that they

must take complete responsibility for what happens to them.

Physically and intellectually, he held himself to incredibly high standards.

There’s no one he wanted to conquer more than himself, each and every day.

One day, he encountered a homeless man.

The man asked him for some change.

Alexander knew what he was seeing: a conquered man.

How could this man let himself be conquered so badly?

How many mistakes must he have made to end up in this position?

Why doesn’t he take steps to dig himself out of this hole?

Instead, hes taking the lazy way out.

He’s trying to take from those who worked hard for what they have.

Those who made good decisions should not be punished by those who made bad decisions.

Alexander knew that if the man wanted to eat, he needed to learn how to fish and not have

fish given to him.

He became enraged by the mans weakness.

“This man won’t get a penny from me”, he thought to himself, “that would only

enable his destructive behaviors and poor atittude towards life.

By suffering he’ll learn or he’ll die; that’s the way the world works.”

This is Joseph.

He believes that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who can help and those

who need to be helped.

His father taught him that the highest good is to serve those who have nothing and to

lift them up.

Life is difficult, and those who have should serve those who have not.

Joseph read a lot as a kid.

He fell in love with various spiritual leaders who loved all and lived to serve.

He grew up quite well off and always felt indebted to those who didn’t.

He felt lucky to have everything that he did.

One day, he encountered a homeless man.

The man asked him for some change.

Joseph knew what he was seeing: a completely underserved man.

This man had been abandoned by society.

Joseph felt like weeping.

“Imagine how much we have failed as a society to let someone get to this point,” he thought

to himself, “life is so difficult and full of suffering and based on luck, that anyone

of us could end up in his position.”

He grabbed all the money he had in his pocket and handed it to the man.

And so, both stories end here.

Both men had unique worldviews shaped by their past experiences.

They both percieved the same man in a different light.

Where one saw a weak man, the other saw a forsakened man.

Their perceptions led them to feel different emotions.

There emotions were heavily affected by what they thought they were seeing.

In actuality, both men knew nothing about the homeless man, and they have no idea what

led him to his position.

This is often the case in real life.

From a young age, both men were surrounded by an invisible structure referred to as culture

or environment.

The knowledge they grabbed from this structure allows them to navigate the world.

Alex grew up in a structure of personality responsibility, of strength & weakness.

He can only see people in this way.

It’s all he knows.

Joseph grew up in a structure of collective responsibility, of the needy & the fortunate.

He can only see people in this way.

It’s all he knows.

For both men, emotions are tools.

In Alex’s world, anger is a useful tool that allows him to become strong — his highest


In Joseph’s world, compassion is a useful tool that allows you to become a giver — his

highest ideal.

One might wonder, if you could change the invisible structure that surrounds these men,

if they reversed the books they read or the family that they had, would they perceive

the world differently?

If they percieve the world differently, would they feel differently?

The master of emotions, then, is the one who can alter the invisible structure around them.

This allows them to gather a diverse set of concepts which allows them to see the same

scenario in different ways.

They would be neither Alexander or Joseph.

They would be both.

They could become either one depending on the circumstances.

Take a look at this image.

What shapes do you see?

You’d probably say a bunch of 3/4 circles and a square.

Technically, there’s actually no square there.

It’s simply a byproduct of how the 3/4 circles are arranged.

But that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll always see it there because you’re familiar

with the concept of a square.

If you never learned what a square was, you’d never see it there in the image.

There’s a layer of meaning hidden in the negative space.

Emotional mastery is about perceiving multiple layers of meaning in the negative space of


It’s about seeing all of the potential realities that could exist.

It’s about looking at a homeless man and seeing that his position could be a byproduct

of his personal decisions or the byproduct of a cultural failure.

What I’m not saying is that these men can think different thoughts and change their

emotions in the moment.

But, they can experience a different worldview now, so they see differently in the future.

They can find new ways of seeing or interacting with old things and all they need to do is

listen — listen to the world in its many forms.

Had they listened to one anothers perspectives, or asked the homeless man for his perspective,

they might have seen the whole situation in a new light.

As we conclude, let’s return to this image.

You probably think that theres nothing more to this image than the 3/4 circles and the


But what if I told you that this is actually just one shape: a rectangle with 4-3/4 circles

removed from it.

It’s called a FiT rectangle.

Just by listening, you now have a new way of percieving these patterns which was invisible

to you before — a new layer of meaning.

So, how does one master the emotions?

By listening, but more importantly, listening to points of view that they haven’t heard

before or that are contrary to their own.

To feel differently, they have to see differently.

To see differently, they have to gain knowledge that they don’t have.

To gain knowledge that they don’t have, they have to experience new things.

I think Joseph Campbell said it best,

The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking


This video was based on my best understanding of Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett’s “theory

of constructed emotion” which I talked about in another video.

I put a link to it in the description.