The heart cannot be commanded: but is it really so?

Proverbs and popular sayings hide a source of ancient wisdom that can sometimes come in handy to see things under a different lens. Yet sometimes they can become obstacles to our growth, inexplicable beliefs that lead us to think that something perfectly within our reach is impossible to achieve. They can be a double-edged sword, in short. A safety net when we need to think that things can be taken in the traditional way, a cage when they prevent us from intervening in our lives.

“The heart is not commanded” is an emblematic statement in this sense. It underlies an entire philosophy of life, a very specific way of seeing and experiencing what we feel. Firmly believing that the heart is not commanded means raising our hands in front of our emotions and deciding that the feelings we feel, when they are strong enough, completely and totally direct our life, and there is nothing we can do. It means that there is no way whatsoever to exert any control over our emotions.

But is it really so?

If you often feel overwhelmed by emotions and find it difficult to manage them and live in a more balanced way, asking for help, even for a short time, can be a decisive decision. Emotional intelligence is something that can be acquired even in a short time, to then train it independently day after day, and the basic tools are within everyone’s reach. As a life coach, I can help you acquire them. Contact me and let’s talk.

On these pages, we have often dealt with emotional management. According to the notions and consolidated knowledge in the field of emotional intelligence: all emotions, even the unpleasant ones to feel like sadness, anger, anxiety, pain or fear, have their own reason for existing, originally intended to make us live better, and to better manage every emotion it is first of all necessary to understand what they mean to tell us, how they want to help us. By doing this, we understand their purpose, we welcome them as legitimate parts of us and we will be able to dampen their excesses, integrating them into our behaviour, into our character. If we do not do this, the emotions will not disappear, but on the contrary, they will insist on recurring, often in more acute forms, more difficult to manage.

From this point of view, the question we ask ourselves from time to time is whether it is possible to control emotions, “turn them off” in some way, or stop feeling them. And the answer we have given ourselves, strengthened by the psychological knowledge consolidated over the years, is no. There is no healthy, undesirable way to desensitize their emotional side, forcing them not to feel a given emotion.

Is it possible to control emotions?

But does this really mean that there is no way to guide, manage, and accompany our emotions in the direction we would like? Really can’t the heart be commanded?

We will not answer this question with a clear “yes” or “no”. For one simple reason: both answers can be true. It all depends on how we choose to see things. It depends on the life we ​​decide we want to live.

Let’s try to clarify this with a practical example. Suppose we are deeply sensitive people. To perceive ourselves as individuals with an above-average sensitivity, and therefore to know that we are able to perceive emotions more intensely than others. Suppose we identify ourselves in a clear and convincing way in this characteristic of ours, and that perhaps it is precisely this peculiarity of ours that guides us in life, perhaps defining our professional life (we could have a job in the social field or the help of others) or private (maybe we are parents, children or partners who are passionate, empathetic and attentive to the needs of the other). If we base our entire existence on the importance that our emotions have in guiding us, and on the wisdom that our heart knows how to give us, it is very likely that we firmly believe that our hearts are not commanded. That if we feel a strong emotion, there is no way to control or guide it. And therefore that every possible attempt is in vain, because it is not motivated and supported by what we firmly believe in.

This could reassure what we think of us, and reconfirm the uniqueness of our sensitivity, which is probably something that everyone appreciates about us. But at the same time, it could give us a feeling of uncertainty about what might happen to us in life. Because if tomorrow we were to feel a strong emotion for something new, such as a person we do not yet know well, or a danger that we have not yet fully understood, that emotion could take the lead in our life, and we could find ourselves following the path. A rush of that emotion without being able to do much about it. Guided precisely by the belief that if we feel something strong, based on the extraordinary sensitivity we have, there is no way to prevent us from following it. In this way, the price to pay for fueling our identity as heart-driven people is the uncertainty of being able to do something about it when the heart pushes us in directions we would rather be able to control. For example, when we fall in love with someone who doesn’t make us feel good, or we panic about a fixed thought that worries us every day.

Is there an alternative way of life? Is there the possibility that the heart can actually be controlled a little, in the sense that we can get in touch with our emotions, absorb them and guide them in the direction that is most congenial to us?

Yes, in general it exists. It is also an established and perfectly possible philosophy of life. As long as we are the first to believe we can do it. To see ourselves as individuals able to guide our emotions with intelligence. Through the other parts of us that we identify with. Logic, soul, or any other personal sphere that we feel strong in our character.

How long do emotions last and how to manage them effectively?

Living in the awareness that emotions can be guided means first of all to stop identifying exclusively with them. It means that when we feel immeasurable love, uncontrollable anger or limitless sadness, we do not “become” that emotion in its entirety. We are not madly in love, hopelessly sad or immensely angry, but we “feel” love, anger, and sadness. It is one of the things that is flowing in us at that moment. By treating them as a part of us (and this implies that other parts exist in us at the same time, still well present and able to have their say while the emotion flares up), we can interact with emotions in an intelligent way. Wondering what they are telling us, what their role is in that moment of our life, and how they want to make us feel good. Accepting its peaks, during which things can appear confusing and uncertain. Learning to have patience and indulgence towards them. Embracing them as parts of us that we do not want to reject, precisely because we believe they can make us better individuals (yes, even in the case of anxiety, anger, pain or sadness: these emotions also aim to make us more effective, in their own way, and discover in what a way it’s a wonderful journey). Finally establishing a dialogue with them, which aims to integrate them with the other parts of us, to find an agreement in some effective way. Maybe not perfect, but good enough to clarify to ourselves how we can move forward, without a part of us feeling hopelessly betrayed, split up or neglected. Learning to have patience and indulgence towards them. Embracing them as parts of us that we do not want to reject, precisely because we believe they can make us better individuals (yes, even in the case of anxiety, anger, pain or sadness: these emotions also aim to make us more effective, in their own way, and discover in what a way it’s a wonderful journey). Finally establishing a dialogue with them, which aims to integrate them with the other parts of us, to find an agreement in some effective way. Maybe not perfect, but good enough to clarify to ourselves how we can move forward, without a part of us feeling hopelessly betrayed, split up or neglected. Learning to have patience and indulgence towards them. Embracing them as parts of us that we do not want to reject, precisely because we believe they can make us better individuals (yes, even in the case of anxiety, anger, pain or sadness: these emotions also aim to make us more effective, in their own way, and discover in what a way it’s a wonderful journey). Finally establishing a dialogue with them, which aims to integrate them with the other parts of us, to find an agreement in some effective way. Maybe not perfect, but good enough to clarify to ourselves how we can move forward, without a part of us feeling hopelessly betrayed, split up or neglected. precisely because we believe they can make us better individuals (yes, even in the case of anxiety, anger, pain or sadness: these emotions also aim to make us more effective, in their own way, and discover how it is a wonderful journey). Finally establishing a dialogue with them, which aims to integrate them with the other parts of us, to find an agreement in some effective way. Maybe not perfect, but good enough to clarify to ourselves how we can move forward, without a part of us feeling hopelessly betrayed, split up or neglected. precisely because we believe they can make us better individuals (yes, even in the case of anxiety, anger, pain or sadness: these emotions also aim to make us more effective, in their own way, and discover how it is a wonderful journey). Finally establishing a dialogue with them, which aims to integrate them with the other parts of us, to find an agreement in some effective way. Maybe not perfect, but good enough to clarify to ourselves how we can move forward, without a part of us feeling hopelessly betrayed, split up or neglected. to find an agreement that is somehow effective. Maybe not perfect, but good enough to clarify to ourselves how we can move forward, without a part of us feeling hopelessly betrayed, split up or neglected. to find an agreement that is somehow effective. Maybe not perfect, but good enough to clarify to ourselves how we can move forward, without a part of us feeling hopelessly betrayed, split up or neglected.

It is not true that the heart cannot be commanded. Or rather: it is true only if we choose to live in the sign of this conviction. Just be aware that it is a choice. And like any personal choice, it is one of the things that we can change when we feel the need. For example, when we realize that letting ourselves be guided blindly by the heart and the emotions we feel can lead us to make those repeated mistakes that we would so like to get rid of.

In short, changing the way we live is possible with the right motivation and the right awareness. Often an external guide is enough to provide us with the basic tools to interact with our emotions in an intelligent way, such as a good life coach, or an enlightening reading, or an emotional intelligence course. But after having acquired these tools, the process of growth and refinement of our emotional management capacity becomes an exciting growth path, which will never cease to amaze us. And we will be able to do it on our own.