How to Control My Upset Reactions and Emotions?


Dear Ananda. Hello. I am grateful that you listen to my question. I get very upset whenever there is a disagreement with a dear person. Most of the time it is not my fault. The other person becomes unreasonable. I end up making up. Then one is taken for granted. How to be unemotional, not getting affected, nor becoming sad after a quarrel? How to be happy without people around?

Thank you

—Geeta, India


Dear Geeta,


I assume you are a yogi. The number one rule for yogis is Patanjali’s definition of yoga: Yogas chitta vritti nirodha, which Yogananda explains as “Yoga is the neutralisation of the whirlpools of feeling”.

We need to learn to hold our inner peace and calmness. You write that you get “very upset.” Meditate on the following statement, to convince your own mind deeply: Agitated feeling is an enemy of your happy life, an enemy for your spirituality, and also an enemy in your relationships. This is true no matter if it is the other person’s fault, or yours. In all cases it is you who is losing, every time you get upset. Your job as a yogi therefore is to steadfastly learn to “keep cool,” as the saying goes.

Analyze yourself, if there is a part of your ego which defends your emotional habit (as often happens): if a part of your mind in truth doesn’t really want to let go of this “right” to get upset (“it is normal!”), then nothing will ever change. But once you truly understand that getting upset is your enemy, then you will be determined to overcome it. And then you will succeed. Not easily, but in time, victoriously.

How to do it? Start like this: accept that there will always be disagreements. It is normal. But next time you are starting to get upset, take 5 seconds, and in these 5 seconds don’t react. Bite your tongue if need be. Or better, practice some deep breaths, and relax. Or you can inhale and tense the whole body, as if “catching” that upset feeling, then you exhale and throw it out. Then try respond calmly to your friend, instead of reacting in the usual upset way.

Yogananda taught that “Fools argue, but wise men discuss.” Try your best, then, to be a wise man (or rather woman) when disagreement arises.

You may also practice what Yogananda calls going on an “anger-fast,” meaning that you chose a time period (maybe only one day at first, then two) in which you determine: “For this day I refuse to get upset, no matter what happens. I am on an anger fast.” Be determined. If you succeed, make the “anger fast” a little longer.

You will be the great winner. As you write, if you get upset, afterwards you feel sad. This is your soul speaking to you: it is sad if the little ego wins in you.

If you succeed in remaining calm and harmonious, your life will become much more happy. And you will also become a better yogi. Our strong emotions always disturb our meditations and prayers, just as calm deep feelings, like devotion and love, deepen our prayers and meditation.

If you try your best, but don’t succeed all the time (and you won’t), or if you succeed only a little bit, don’t worry, it is alright. Yoga is directional. Slowly, slowly we proceed towards victory. Just keep working on it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. If you don’t succeed, but get upset once again, then offer your sincere apology, if you can. Probably you do that already, as you write that you “end up making up.” That is a wonderful thing.

By the way, being peaceful doesn’t mean to become the doormat of the other person. You still make your points, and explain your position firmly.

All the best in your efforts to become a yogi, inside and in your relationships. If you can, try not to mix with people who are bad example for you (angry people), nor watch films in which people get upset. Let your real heroes and filmstars be those who have control over their emotions, without ever closing their heart.

One last thing. You might want to apply Yogananda’s prayer for “Peace and Harmony.” It is done like this: if you are having challenges with your dear friend (or with anyone), visualize him in light and for one minute and pray: “Lord, fill him with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.” Then visualize yourself in light and pray for 15 seconds: “Lord, fill me with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.” Yogananda recommends: “Do this 5 times a day — 3 or 4 times might work, but 5 times practically never fails.”

In divine friendship,