In grade school, report card day was typically a day of excitement for me. My grades were usually solid, but there was one evaluation I would always check first. It was the score I knew my father would look at first and would likely be the only thing he would comment on. Exhibits self control. Three ratings were possible: Very good, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory. Throughout Elementary school, especially in the younger years, I got more than a few “Unsatisfactory” check boxes. I was always relieved when I saw “Satisfactory”. It was very important to my Father that I learned to control my emotions.
Maturity, confidence, martial arts, and spending time outside helped me over time to help manage my emotions. I was able to find outlets and words to express my anger and disappointment. In his youth, my son had moments when he struggled with his emotions, particularly anger. Now that he is a teenager, he has gained skills to help him manage his emotions. That apple didn’t fall too far.
The Oscars brought Will Smith’s ability to manage his emotions into the spotlight and opened up a larger conversation. Carrying around stress and worry can put any of us in a vulnerable position to be overtaken by emotion. I have had moments while fishing where my frustration, disappointment or embarrassment have limited my enjoyment of my time on the river. I also have brought overwhelming emotions from work and home to the river. After enough time on the water, I relax and get out of my head.
Typically when I am short with someone or feel my temper rising, it is due to preconceived notions, and emotions I am carrying without an outlet. If I can keep my focus on my actions, my mindset, and my choices it allows me to express my emotions without anger getting the best of me. I also look for expressions of annoyance, so I can dig deeper and try to address emotions before they grow into larger discontent.
This weekend was Opening Day for fishing in Pennsylvania. I was unable to fish this weekend due to a variety of events and responsibilities. Opening Day is often when the largest amount of people are out on the water. Anglers can be stacked up nearly shoulder to shoulder. The day is treated like a holiday and the majority of people are in good moods and welcoming to other anglers. Next week, however, anglers may not be so welcoming if you walk into the river above their casting position or otherwise invade their space. I enjoy solitude on the water, but I also have met wonderful people on the river and I really enjoy fishing with friends.
The Final Four also connected me to controlling emotions. The Duke and North Carolina rivalry is incredibly intense, especially in basketball. After a well played game that came down to the last moment, North Carolina’s team was victorious. The teams exhibited great sportsmanship while experiencing tremendously varied and strong emotions. As a Maryland and Virginia Tech fan, I have rooted against Duke with fervor throughout my life. Watching the Duke players upset after their loss and seeing Coach K leave the court for the last time, I sat in appreciation for the effort, legacy and entertainment they have provided me. I wasn’t harboring negative thoughts towards Duke.
The difference between being upset and being appreciative is not that far off from each other. It’s a decision and a mindset shift. The difference between opening day of fishing and a few extra folks on the stream is only a few days. The difference between laughing at a joke and getting incredibly angry is only a few minutes. Let’s find a way to release our anger without resorting to violence.