The Soul Podcast - Tools For a Joyful Life

"Be Mode" - A Tool For Emotional Control

September 14, 2023 Stacey Wheeler Season 2 Episode 21
The Soul Podcast - Tools For a Joyful Life
"Be Mode" - A Tool For Emotional Control
The Soul Podcast - Tools For A Joyful Life
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Show Notes Transcript

Today I share a practice that can help you become.... more present, more joyful, and more in control of your reactionary emotions. 


If you are reading this, know that YOU ARE LOVED. 


“The nearer a man comes to a calm mind the closer he is to strength.” - Marcus Aurelius 

“To be calm is the highest achievement of the self.” – An ancient Zen saying

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.” - Lao Tzu 

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The stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius said,

“The nearer a man comes to a calm mind the closer he is to strength.”

I’m sure he meant you ladies, as well… 

There’s also an ancient Zen saying, 

“To be calm is the highest achievement of the self.”

Hello, and welcome to The Soul Podcast. I’m Stacey Wheeler.

With these two quotes we can see how people on opposite sides of the planet saw the value of a calm mind. That truth hasn’t changed in the thousands of years that have passed since they wrote those words.

We’ve all met people who wear their emotions close to the surface; people who easily get irate or upset. And then there are those people who seem unfazed by the same things. Though things often don’t go as planned, and people even say hurtful things… they react calmly, and perhaps, even kindly. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that they are in control of their emotions. They are the ones who can show empathy for those who are frustrated -and help redirect them in a more positive way.

The rest of us operate somewhere between these two extremes. We can sometimes control our frustrations and angers, and not speak them out loud when we feel triggered. And other times we lose our cool, and perhaps regret it.

But given the option of being at one extreme or the other; given the option of being a hothead or the cool cucumber… which would you choose?

As a young man, I operated more often than I would like to admit on the hothead side. There’s something about being a young man that made me feel if I didn’t have strong opinions, and perhaps even strong reactions… that I wasn’t being manly enough. In addition to that, I had little guidance on how to manage my emotions. It was a skill I hadn’t mastered.

Consider the weather for a moment.  The way we emotionally respond to shifts in the weather doesn’t change the weather. The way we respond emotionally to challenges only changes us in that moment. And can have ripple effects on those around us. 

Situations can change without warning. In those moments we get to choose how we react to the change. How we react often comes from our internal voice. And how we react will affect the sorts of emotions we’re left with in that moment. 

Like all new habits, it takes practice to (first) become skilled and (then) become reflexive in the way we react to situations. It takes practice to react with a calm demeanor.

For me, much of this practice came from learning to shift from one mode in my life to another.

We all live in multiple modes throughout our day. We might be in parenting mode, work mode, driving mode… And so forth.

Throughout our day, we can also practice being in what I think of as be mode

This is a tool that I developed in my meditation practice. I learned to stop throughout my day and allow myself to just be in the present moment. In those moments I intentionally took myself out of do mode. I intentionally made myself stop focusing on being productive. And simply be in the moment I was in. 

This practice was partly influenced by the 2500 year old quote from the Chinese mystic, Lao Tzu. When I read it, it immediately made sense -and I knew it was true for me.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.”


When meditating, I often feel very at peace. This, I believe… is because I’m in Be mode. 

When I first began, it started as simply sitting, and focusing on my breath, and the things around me… often just the sounds around me. As time progressed, so did my ability. I was eventually able to be at the same moments that I was doing. That’s to be in be mode and do mode at the same time. In fact, as I was writing this, I was sitting in my front yard, being in the moment of watching the wind move through the trees, while at the same time, doing the act of writing this, by voice in my notes app.

With practice, anyone can get there. As you progress, you’re able to both do and be at the same time. It only takes practice.

I want to share this concept because there’s a huge value in learning to slow down. Especially in this modern ‘go-go-go’ world. 

Henry David Thoreau said, “You cannot perceive beauty, but with a serene mind.”

I agree completely with that thought. 

Learning to reflexively shift in to be mode allows you to perceive beauty… like I did when I slowed down and noticed the wind blowing through the leaves. And it’s the key to controlling emotion in the moment where emotion is not helpful.

After years of practicing do mode, I have a much higher mastery of my emotions. Yes, I still have emotions and react appropriately to things I should be upset about. And in those moments, I have the confidence to speak my mind about those things -when it is appropriate. Much of that confidence came from the self-mastery of controlling myself. At first, it takes effort. In time it becomes reflexive. 

This morning I accidentally knocked a framed picture to the floor, while changing my bedding. The frame broke and the glass shattered. In that moment, my entire reaction was to recognize what had happened and utter the words “well, that was unfortunate.” And then I went to work cleaning the mess.

What cannot be changed is pointless to fuss over. So, I didn’t fuss. I didn’t need to remind myself not to fuss. I’ve practiced enough that I longer have the habit of reacting emotionally to little things. Sometimes, I even find something positive in these situations.  

In this case… I thought perhaps this was the universe’s way of telling me it’s time to do a deep clean of my bedroom. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do, after all. Certainly, I needed to make sure there was no glass remaining anywhere on the floor. And broken glass tends to spread out. It took time I hadn’t planned to spend cleaning. But the upside is I finally did the deep clean I’ve been meaning to do. 

Consider for yourself today where you are among the two extremes of emotion I spoke about. Do you lean towards hothead, or towards cool cucumber? Where would you prefer to be?

If you’d rather be on the cool cucumber side, start by practicing be mode. Be mode will not only serve you and help you control your emotions in the moment (and better understand them) it will also help you be more joyful in your life. Sitting quietly and noticing where you are in the moment, even as you watch the busy world go by, allows you to retrain your emotions, to reset and to be calm. The more you practice… the better you get at reflexively being calm.

So, give it a shot. Take a moment and drop into be mode today. 

If you become consistent at it, you will become happier, calmer and more content in your life.

Talk to you soon…