ChoicesI was so angry I was almost shaking.

“May I help you?” the teller asked. I shook my head.

The bank was nearly empty. I sat waiting for the lady who handles stuff the teller usually can’t. It was taking forever to open some guy’s new account, but that didn’t bother me. I was mad because I was facing a rash of overdrafts. The bank had put a long hold on a big deposit. My debit card quit working that morning, and I had mailed several checks the night before.

Why didn’t they tell me about the hold? I thought. They have e-mail address!

It had been a long time since I was this mad, and I didn’t like the feeling. Now I was angry about having my emotions hijacked. As I sat seething silently, words of wisdom past slid into my brain: I get to choose how I feel… Look for a better feeling thought.

I closed my eyes and breathed slowly, deliberately. I cast about for better thoughts. It wasn’t personal. They would have done it to anyone. I knew about the hold they put on big checks, but I forgot. It’s really my fault (oddly enough, that helped me). It’s only money. I’m a smart guy, and I’ll get this sorted out.

The second time the teller asked if she could help, I decided it was worth a try. I walked over explained my situation. She went to ask someone, then came back with the news. “We can’t do anything at the branch, but I can give you the customer service number.”

I took the number and left. I still had a problem to deal with, but at least I felt more like myself.

Two weeks later I’m still cleaning up the mess, but I never let my anger control me.

It’s true. You do get to choose your feelings.

Photo credit: Darren131


  1. sometimes, though, it’s really hard to chose the exact feeling you want. sometimes, even though you are really channeling the calm, the storm comes in.

  2. It happens to everyone, but when it happens to you it feels like you’re the only person in the world dealing with it. Frustration can cloud your thoughts. And doesn’t it always seem like the things you wanted to say only come to your mind AFTER you’ve left?

    We certainly have a choice in situations like this, and usually finding a way to stay calm and choosing a positive feeling can help you think more clearly. It may not equate to the result you’re hoping for, but it gives you the best chance.

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