Order Your Instincts To Wait

If you let your instincts overrule you, if you allow your anger to consume you, if you explode with rage, you might end up in bigger trouble. You might end adding up to your initial problem.

“Take care of the first problem; don’t let the snowball roll,” John Chatterton thought when a 200-pound metal beam fell into his lap, leaving him trapped inside a shipwreck.

Primal instincts raged in Chatterton’s head, urging him to thrash, scream, and lunge. He ordered his instincts to wait, knowing he had 5 more minutes of gas to breathe.

“It’s just a matter of figuring out how this thing landed on me and reversing the process. Stay calm,” he repeated inside his head. “Don’t create more problems; just reverse the process.”

The instinctive mind serves a purpose, as the Yogis explain. It is the instinct that drove the caveman to escape from wildebeests threatening him and his family. It is the instinctive reactions that help you avoid a collision when a car suddenly merges into your lane. It is the instinct that made you dodge a punch from a bully in middle school.

Those impulses stem from the animal nature, and you shouldn't feel ashamed of them; they are a natural part of you. But they have their place and should be subordinated to the higher parts of your mind. You must observe and recognize them, learning to master and control them rather than being controlled by them.

With just a few minutes left of air, Chatterton figured his way out. Such control of his lower nature saved his life. If he had allowed the raging instincts to take control of his mind, he would have panicked, breathed heavily, and drowned.

If you let your instincts overrule you, if you allow your anger to consume you, if you explode with rage, you might end up in bigger trouble. You might end adding up to your initial problem.

It’s best to breathe. To keep yourself cool and collected. Calm and poised. Figure out the problem you are facing. Order your instincts to wait.

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