When what you do gets you where you don’t want to go,  you need to re-read the map that lead you there.  Requires stepping back and thinking deeply.

Impulsive cartoon

Wise man Albert Einstein noted, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

When bad things happen to you, you need to think about what needs changing. Here are the three most important questions you need to ask:

First question: Can I do anything? This means letting go of thinking you control things and looking carefully at what you do control.      Here are some things people do not control:

The weather
The stars
The moon
Mother Nature’s destructive acts
Bigger meaner animals preparing to attack
The past
The future
Luck, or if you are religious, how God decides to answer your prayers
The genes you are born with
The family you are born into
The culture you are born into
Other people

Trying to control, what you cannot control, wastes time and energy. The three things we do not control that cause the most day-to-day stress are:

The past
The future
Other people

Second question: Can you bring about change without violating your honor code?

As Boris Pasternak noted: “Your health is bound to be affected by it if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn’t just a fiction, it’s part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space and is inside us, like teeth in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity.”

If acting to change the situation requires you to do something that violates your sense of honor, not acting is best. You want to get back at someone who behaved mean to you, but you truly believe it is better to turn the other cheek and treat people the way you want to be treated.

That is why examining and remembering your mission and goals are important  emotional fitness exercises.  As noted earlier, it begins with remembering what matters.

Question three: Is it worth the trouble it will take to change something? Most people like a bit of change, but not too much.  If you need to change or want someone else to change, you need to think about how much effort it will take and whether it will be worth your time and effort.

USE A RATING SCALE TO WEIGH YOUR ANSWER TO THE ABOVE QUESTIONS.  Don’t remember or know about rating scales? Read this.

Rating scale poster


Rating scales can be taught to a child as soon as he or she begins toddling. Rate the bumps and bruises that go along with learning to walk with one of these phases:

  1. Big hurt if the child is crying inconsolably.
  2. Small hurt for small weeping moments.

For the big hurts, keep saying “Big Hurt” as you comfort the child.  For both hurts when the child stops crying, smile, hug,  and say “Good job.”

When the child talks fairly well, think of adding a Traffic Light of Feelings to your refrigerator.  Here’s what that looks like:

Feeling traffic lite

When first using, write in the clues you see that say a feeling has control of your child. Red light clue examples: Temper tantrum, inconsolable crying.  When a child is showing a red light clue. Just say “Stop” Yellow light clue? “Slow down.” Green light clue? “Keep going.”

When to child gets the Traffic Light of Feelings, replace it with  a general Feeling Thermometer and use that to talk first about your feelings and in time about what you see your child feeling.  “Red light clue. You must be really 7 degrees of angry.”

By the time a child is beginning to read, you can help him or her make a personal feeling thermometer.

As the teen years approach, have conversations about what matters with your child. Family meetings are good for doing that. Don’t hold Family Meetings?  Get my book How to Hold Successful Family Meetings.  Well run family business meetings strengthen kids, give them important life skills and are stress reducing skills for all parents.


Next week’s sessions: How to act wisely when careful thinking suggests you need to act.


I often use these prompts to spark my posts.  They work to improve  critical thinking – the heart of emotional intelligence. You can think about the prompts  as stated or use them to spark other thoughts which is what I usually do. If I put on my thinking cap the prompts can be related to Emotional Fitness. Here’s how I did that for this post.

DAILY PROMPT   Return Address: Yesterday, your pet/baby/inanimate object could read your post. Today, they can write back (thanks for the suggestion, lifelessons!). Write a post from their point of view (or just pick any non-verbal creature/object).

How this relates to emotional fitness and today’s post:  From when my sons entered their teens.  “MOOOOOMMMMMMMMM.”  A far cry from their worshipping pre-school and early school years. However, I haven’t heard that despairing, bemoaning of me since both became parents.


All the handouts and poster coaches for this course are being posted at the store so you can download them for free  (Handouts are in Black and White while Poster Coaches are in color.)

Apologies if you cannot find one.  I am a Jill of all in this business, so some things take longer than others.  If something used here isn’t posted yet, you will find lots of other offerings including inspirational quotes or more EFTI exercises. In time all will be posted.



Please rate this material. Doing so helps me ratings. This is what your stars will mean to me. No stars – Not helpful; One star – Reinforced my knowledge –  Two Stars; New information –  Three stars;  New useful information; Four stars – Very good; Five stars – Excellent.

Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.


Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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