A FULL PLATE OF WEIRD WITH A SIDE OF CRAZY
You can’t fight a problem you don’t face. My mother saw it coming and wasn’t afraid to call it what it was. What she did was help me become emotionally intelligent. This article talks about that. I think what she did for me can help a lot of people. That’s the concept behind my book:
MY MOTHER’S RULES
Here’s a quick peek at what I mean. I call it Cockpit Cool:
Most of us see how we feel as something that just happens. Happy, sad, frightened, angry, it all comes naturally. It’s not something we cultivate; it is something that simply is.
I contend however that emotions are raw material that can be molded, refined and directed. We can feel one thing, decide it’s not helpful, then elect to feel otherwise. We can decide whether or not we’ll get angry. We can learn to wrangle, then conquer fear. I even believe that we can alter our base emotional personality – not completely – but significantly. This last one I deem possible because it is something I’ve done myself.
My mother often tells the story of the night she lay in bed with my dad. Wordless they stared at the ceiling until my father broke the silence, “What,” he asked in quiet concern, “are we going to do about Lynn?”
Convinced the world was an incendiary place that picked people out at random and burned them up alive I couldn’t leave the house. Full of cascading fears and obsessive thoughts, I’d get so wrapped up in some small, remote, irrational worry I’d become paralyzed. I was once escorted home from school hysterical because Mrs. Dudash said get out your pencils and I couldn’t find mine. Later, I took up residence in a closet and refused to leave because it wasn’t safe.
While that is who I was born to be it is not who I am. Once unable to rationalize my way out of a closet, I now regularly chase storms. I am, in fact, a woman to whom others now go for good advice and calm. I became a judge at 33, and now I host my own television show.
How did I do it? you ask. What wisdom got me out of the closet and eventually placed me on the bench?
Neither medication nor meditation authored my new found calm. Pop psychology was not involved nor were years of getting the real thing. The answer is simply this I have an extraordinary mother who is a master of an art most people don’t even see as a skill. Duchess (my mother) approaches her emotional life as if it is a separate field of study. She’s learned to step away from what’s happening around her and decide how she will feel. She can identify any budding emotion before it can over take her. Then she makes an objective decision whether she’ll entertain it. Unfettered by her own emotional static she has a clear vision of those around her. She sees not only what they do but understands how they feel. This knowledge combined with her ability to make others feel as she would like allows her to manage those around her almost as well as she manages herself.
I call my mother’s innate ability Cockpit Cool. It is that airline pilot personality, you know, the one you can’t fully appreciate until you hear pilots talking in situations in which only the black box survives. These guys are working, thinking, yet never raising their voices, until . . . well, you know. My mother maintains this kind of emotional control right here on terra firma. And I contend that if we practice what she knows we can do it too. I know it helped me turn who I was into someone I’d rather be. And while I admit I have yet to attain Cockpit Cool I am Cruising Altitude Even which – given my tumultuous emotional make up – is quite the accomplishment.
Here’s the thing: In a society where acts of unfettered rage are common place and people routinely call 911 because their fast food order was wrong, I believe that becoming emotionally educated is as important as learning to read. Besides wouldn’t you like to develop a greater immunity to the ups and downs of life? Wouldn’t you like to remain a little more steady when the world takes an unexpected tilt? Join me here and together we can learn to think our way through how we feel and become Cockpit Cool, like mom.