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Personal Best Karate

The Two Arrows Of Emotion

Posted: July 04, 2019

By Master Christopher Rappold

A college professor of mine drew on the chalk board two arrows side by side, one pointed up, the other next to it pointing down. He asked our class, “What does this mean?” Not knowing where he was going with his questions, we all began to spout out the most obvious answers such as, “what goes up must come down”.

He patiently listened to us and then said, “Each arrow represents emotion. When your emotion goes up, your ability to think and reason clearly goes down.” While some of the class was probably less than impressed, I was impacted by the simple yet profound lesson. I thought back to times as a competitor when I would get too caught up in the emotion (exactly what some I competed against wanted me to do) and end up losing because of it.

As a parent, I couldn’t count the amount of times that thinking back to the two arrows allowed me to mentally put distance between my reactions so I could think more clearly. It seems a great lesson for us all, packaged differently, but with similar wisdom as the “take 10 deep breaths” advice many of us heard growing up.

No matter what your age or position, being aware and controlling the actions we take when the negative spike in our emotions happen is a worthy skill to develop. How many mistakes saved and wars not started if only we all got better at controlling our actions at the height of spike.

Make the commitment today to move forward and remember the two side by side arrows. When you feel those negative emotions going up, know that it’s time to give yourself the space and freedom to physically or mentally walk away so you can regain a clear head and be proud of the actions you take. At those critical times, you deserve clarity to make the very best decision possible.


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