I grew up with peasant vision. For those of you unaware of what that this , it is the 2, if you’re lucky, 3 stations we used to get on TV. Our home and our friend’s houses had contraptions to help us get better reception. Sometimes it was purchased “bunny ears.” Occasionally an antennae on the roof of the house that required regular adjusting. Other times, I remember a wire coat hanger being repurposed to give Bob Barker shape and substance. It was like TV for minimalist. Steve Job’s wardrobe kind of TV. The choices were simpler…less emotional. Do you want to watch the Brady Bunch or Welcome Back Kotter? The News or the other News? Do you want to stay in your chair and watch what’s on or get up and walk across the room to see what else might be on.
Yes, that’s right – walk across the room – we also didn’t have a remote. Fortunately my dad was a forward thinker and propagated a number of his own channel changers. It was our job as kids to run to the TV and change the channel when asked. You couldn’t change the channels too fast though or you’d strip the knob…some of you are not tracking with me right now. That’s okay, some of you are remembering.
Remotes made life so much easier. But then think how many more steps your tracker would add up if you have to get up and walk across the room whenever you wanted to change the channel. Remotes have also made life more frustrating…and began the endless battle ground of who gets to hold the remote. How do you decide in your house? Is it hierarchical? First in, first choice? The strongest? The oldest?
In our home it’s easy, I relinquish my remote rights readily. I’m only half paying attention anyways. At least The Man is responsible with the remote – only turning the channel at commercials or when the program is over. Have you ever tried to watch TV with an indiscriminate channel changer? The Man’s uncle was the worst for this. He always had the remote and he’d change the channel randomly, without warning. He had no regard for how many other people were watching the program at the same time. He would change it mid-program, mid-commercial, mid-excitement. When I first went to visit I tried to analyse his channel changing rhythms. Did he change it when he was offended? Bored? I never figured it out…he may have just had a twitch. I never quite got over how his family never mutinied over his random channel changing habits. It was a different time and place, the male authority got to hold the remote and do with it whatever he pleased and no one questioned – at least in that house.
What if Our Emotions Had a Remote Control?
One day an odd thought wormed its way into my head. What if our emotions were run by a remote control? Really, it’s kinda like that, isn’t it? When we expect other people to make us happy it’s like handing them the remote for our emotions and expecting that they’ll push the right buttons for the channel we want. We sometimes think, I just want to be happy but the people in my world make me so angry! If they would just _______, then I’d be happy. Unfortunately those people keep pressing the “Angry” button. I have friends and family in my life that I would happily hand my emotional remote over to because they know how to make me laugh and brighten my day. I had a child though that knew exactly where my ‘Annoyed’, ‘Frustrated’, ‘Angry’ and “Over-the-top’ buttons were and got the biggest kick out of flipping between those channels. And I let him.
What’s even scarier is that I’ve been guilty of quite readily handing off my emotional remote to anybody around me…neighbours, fellow board members, and even perfect strangers. Here painfully slow lady in the checkout line you hang onto my emotional remote for a bit and press whatever you like! Go ahead everyone decide what I’m going to feel today!
We’ve actually been trained to do this. This is what advertising is all about – the manipulation of your emotions. You’ll be happy if you’re RV-ing. You’ll be peaceful if you buy this car that can get you out in the country. (Cause everyone in the country is happy right?) This beer will make you feel alive…and thin, tanned and muscular! Basically a miracle will happen. We are so used to having our emotions manipulated that we may have forgotten that we are actually the one in control of them. Okay, maybe we’re not yet in control of them, but we can and should be. There is nothing external that you need to improve what is happening internally – despite what the advertisers say. There is nothing that needs to happen outside of us to change what we are feeling inside. You can still be happy and look for a different job. You can feel peace in a chaotic situation. And you can be perfectly miserable when you have the perfect partner, the right career, or are in that beautiful vacation destination. You get to control your own emotions.
What Happens When We Take Charge of Our Own Emotional Remotes?
What happens when we take charge of our own remotes and are selective who we let control it? What does it look like when you take back your remote?
It looks like stopping expecting the people or things around us to make us happy. If they do – be crazy grateful! But, in general, people are having enough trouble handling their own remotes to do a reasonable job of managing yours. We’ve all experienced remote confusion – where there is so many of them we’ve forgotten what runs what! It’s just far more reasonable to not hand over your controls to others.
It looks like you deciding that when someone criticizes you that it says more about them than about you. It means you can evaluate the criticism and decide how you are going to react to it and what you will take from it.
It looks like you not waiting until things are horribly miserable before you decide to make necessary changes.
It may mean happily looking for a new job because your old one doesn’t suit you anymore or changing your attitude and bringing your best into your current job.
It means recognizing that random people on the internet have no business trying to push your buttons. Keep your remote far away from them!
It means giving the idiot drivers around you slack because it’s not worth flipping the station from ‘calm’ to ‘gesturing like a maniac.’
It means not manipulating the people around you in hopes they’ll push your happy button.
It may mean changing some things. It may mean accepting some things.
If I hang on to my own remote I’ll only ever press the happy button…and being happy all the time is not only impractical it’s highly annoying. Yes, yes it is. But life isn’t like that. There are times you will want to be sad. There are all kinds of appropriate times when you should feel anger. It’s totally appropriate to be nervous and even anxious sometimes. But it is craziness to let everyone else decide when and how we’re going to experience those things.
Hang on to your own emotional remote. Or maybe even get rid of it. Can you imagine the space in your world if you decide that you will walk across the room to change the emotional channel?
Is it really that easy? No. It’s not easy at all. But allowing everyone else to determine what you will feel and when you will feel it isn’t easy either. They are both hard, one is just more productive. When you feel yourself going over the top, take a breath and ask yourself – who has my emotional remote?
Who holds your remote? Why do you let them have it? What would it look like if you took it back?
If you’d like to talk about who’s holding your remote, I’m listening. trishwhite.ca