Chapter 5 – The Answer

Emotional intelligence is essential when taming oneself. The key to controlling situations and retaining your inner peace is restraint. A famous quote comes to mind, which is of disputed origin; ‘You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass – Unknown’. This is the only task he had assigned himself for a while now. To practice restraint. The art of self-control. In learning self-love, he found that perhaps the greatest accomplishment of a mind, is to have the ability to control itself.  It was on our way back home when he revealed the purpose of our journey. All this time, I had thought that the answer to everything related to ‘self’ was the experiences we all have in our lives. That everything is that happens to us and around us defines our image, or rather our understanding of ourselves. Little did I know, that it was quite the opposite.

The way we react to situations, problems and challenges in our lives is in our control. To exercise that control, we need to practice restraint. We need to learn to control our emotions and hence our reactions by being calm and restraining ourselves. This gives us power over ourselves. This gives us the power to define ourselves and in turn, understand ourselves. This is the pinnacle of self-love, awareness and discovery. When you get there, nothing can control you and disturb your peace. When you get there, nothing can impact your self-image and nothing can affect your ability to love yourself. When you get there, you understand your worth. You ‘restrain’ yourself against negativity of all nature. You grow bigger than the everyday noise. You stop indulging in activities and company that drains you. Your emotions are in your control. You embrace your feelings, and give yourself enough space and time to let logic and restraint define your reaction.

“So how do you do that?” I asked, wondering how one can develop restraint and emotional intelligence. “Solitude” he replied. “You spend time with yourself. You look around yourself. You understand yourself and you embrace your emotions. You let every possible thought into your mind, and let yourself react to the thoughts. You repeat this, till you understand that your reaction does not change the original thought, but only the thoughts that come after it. Only then, you understand how to control the thoughts, through your reaction. Understanding this is enough to realize that your reaction is in your control and you define the outcomes by exercising this control via restraint” We kept walking downhill as he spoke in slow, careful speech. I made mental notes and did not feel the need to respond. While this worked for him, I knew that there are many ways to achieve restraint. Some practice meditation, some practice other spiritual ways and many find their own path through constant struggle to find and improve themselves. Regardless of the method you choose, if you are trying or even just thinking about it, you have already started your journey. The answer to the simple impediment of ‘self’ is restraint …

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