Harnessing Your Wild Side
- Wednesday, November 10, 2004
The Seven Secrets of Highly Effective Stagecoach Drivers
Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything. – Billy Graham|
On the basis of our combined five decades of counseling experience, we want to share the seven crucial secrets for turning anger and sexual energy into a force for personal gain – into a force that will help shape you into someone who is unswervingly authentic, who can face yourself, life situations, and relationships with confidence.
- Realize that you are the driver. How this team of powerful horses behaves in the next few seconds, or the next few hours, is totally up to you. You hold the reins in your hands. You are the one in control. If you become convinced that your emotions are really in charge – that you’re just along for the ride – you’re headed for big trouble.
Being the driver means that you regulate the speed by letting loose or pulling up on the reins. The horses will turn left or right, according to your direction. You are free to guide them as you think best, and this freedom cannot be compromised by anyone else.
- Convince yourself that you have the power to make wise decisions. The skillfulness of your driving will be determined by the thoroughness and accuracy of your thinking. The more proficient you become as a decision maker, the better your driving will be.
Your best choices will follow good decision-making rules. First, you will pay attention to what you think and feel. Then you will consider what the respected people in your life think and feel. Finally, you will pay attention to the teachings of the ages – the time-tested principles of truth that offer wisdom and guidance – and ask God for direction.
Marshaling these three sources of data, your challenge is to sift through all of it and make the wisest decision you can.
Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what it loves. – Blaise Pascal
- Operate out of confidence. As we discussed in earlier chapters, your sense of profound worth was established long ago by God, and you already know what a significant human being you are. That means you’re not making decisions just to feel good about yourself. With your questions of personal significance solved, you’re totally confident about your invulnerability to other people’s evaluation and judgment.
You are handling your angry and sexual impulses as wisely as you can for one reason: You want your own life to be unswervingly authentic. And you want the lives of those closest to you to benefit from the optimal expression of your feelings in the proper, God-given context.
- Regulate the pace. Life was not meant to be lived at breakneck speeds. You can’t make good choices when you’re charging forward as swiftly as possible. Slow your horses down, and keep them under full control.
When your brain is throbbing and your heart is pounding from anger or sexual feelings, one of the best things you can do is take your time. Give yourself ample opportunity to think through all the aspects of your decision.
- Train your horses when they are calm and composed. The time to work on managing your anger or sexual impulses is when you are not aggressively or sexually revved up. Your cognitive machinery doesn’t function well when adrenaline is blasting through your body.
Learning to handle drives and desires is something virtually anyone can master. But it isn’t an easy skill to learn. It takes times and hard work. But we have watched hundreds of healthy people learn to use their most intense feelings for the benefit of their personal and relational growth. This skill is best learned when their drives are dormant.
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. – The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4:26, NRSV
- Take good care of your horses. Once you learn how to direct your sexual and angry impulses for the betterment of your life, don’t allow any of these powerful feelings to get stale, lose their vitality, or die early deaths.
In relation to anger, don’t try to minimize it or repress it. Rather, work to remain hypersensitive to injustice and hurt – in your life and the lives of others. Moreover, stay idealistic about your life goals; dare to dream big dreams and pursue large visions. Clearly, your pursuit of these goals and dreams will set you up for all kinds of frustration, and this frustration will produce anger for you. Terrific! You now know exactly how to manage the energy from this anger to your advantage.
The same is true of your sexual feelings. We know of people who still enjoy sexual vitality at ninety years of age, and that’s fantastic. Any person who has sexual impulses can utilize the accompanying power to achieve their fondest goals.
- When you become skilled, take on apprentice drivers. We have noted that great managers of strong inner impulses become eve more proficient when they teach their secrets to “younger and less experienced drivers.” In the very act of helping others master this set of skills, the rules for maximizing your own abilities will become even clearer and more achievable.
Never lose your temper, except intentionally. – Dwight Eisenhower
Healthy People Are Wild – and in Control
You have plenty of angry and sexual feelings. God himself blessed you with these. However much you may try to hide these feelings, you are probably quite aware of them deep within your heart and mind. If you think you’re not very angry or very sexual, you are likely just fooling yourself and engaging in unnecessary denial.
To the degree that you use all this powerful energy for good, your life will turn from ordinary to extraordinary, dull to dynamic. You will be able to do exciting and magnificent things – far beyond anything you may have dreamed.
It will all come down to how well you learn to manage those young, wild, spirited horses in you.
Les Parrott, Ph.D., is founder and codirector (with his wife, Dr. Leslie Parrott) of the Center for Relationship Development, a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships, on the campus of Seattle Pacific University (SPU). He is the author of numerous best-selling books, including "Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts." For more information, visit www.realrelationships.com.
Neil Clark Warren, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the founder of eHarmony.com, a relationship Web site. He is the former dean of the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology and the author of seven books, including the best-seller "Finding the Love of Your Life."
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