Control the Meaning
- Decide: Decide what you are feeling. Recognize and identify your emotions by asking, “What exactly am I feeling?” Let’s use, for example, anger.
- Ask yourself “What else can I assume about the situation that is causing me to react this way? Could I be mistaken about the true intentions of the person who is upsetting me? How would a stranger see this situation?” These simple questions will help you think rationally, provide you with a new perspective, and give you time to decide how to respond.
- Remind yourself of the bigger truth: you can use the energy of anger and redirect it to the pursuit of something you are passionate about. You can control the actions you take and the emotions you focus on. You can control the meaning.
- Act in a way that moves you closer to your full potential. By simply not acting on the negative emotions you experience, you are unlearning what was learned. To not act out of anger is a significant accomplishment.
While implementing these steps may seem difficult at first, even the attempt to control the meaning has a massive impact on the brain. As Norman Doidge, renowned psychoanalyst, describes, “Each time we try, we begin fixing bad connections and creating new ones. Even just from the effort. We create new pathways in the brain, and we lay the groundwork for change.” Success will not happen immediately, but the attempt to control the meaning will help you heal and will move you closer to your full potential.
You can learn more about DATA in Chapter 6 of Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up with Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free.