How to control your emotions, erase negative experiences and stop bad behavior

(photo: MauRi Raffin)

If you keep interrupting your negative thought pattern with the “Stop, Drop, and Roll strategy, eventually it will not contain the elements needed to burn.

As you may have gathered by now, the results we produce are determined by the result of the state of mind we are in. If we do not take control of our negative states, we are at the beck and call of our conditioned responses.

When something triggers a negative emotion, we might seek temporary distractions in order to change our current state of mind. These distractions could be putting the headphones on and turning up the music or going for the remote control.

The distractions could be in the form of looking for some sugar to eat or alcohol to drink. When the ride is over and the distraction ends, we are right back where we left off with the same negative emotion, at which time the process of this vicious cycle starts over like an instant replay. Only now, it is worse as these behaviors have left us a little chubbier or intoxicated.

On one level, we have the right idea. We simply want to change the feelings we are suffering from and if a bucket of rocky road ice cream makes us feel better, then that is a step in the right direction. At least it sounds logical, right? The idea is to step away from these short term solutions and find something that will simply do the job right the first time. And the only way we are going to do that is to understand how to remove the negative image from our brains so it does not keep playing the same emotionally driven masterpiece over and over and over again.

This next strategy has helped me overcome many in-the-moment challenges. What do you do when you are on fire? You stop, drop, and you roll. Being on fire is also like being angry, upset, or depressed. This burning is akin to any other negative situation we might be experiencing. Any negative emotional state of mind is the same as being on fire. Being on fire equals pain and possible destruction. So let’s learn how to put out the fire by breaking the strategy down.


You need to stop what you are doing if you are going to be able to respond instead of react.

When you hear someone yell, “You’re on fire!” it would probably be a good time to stop what you are doing and perceive what is going on. If you do not stop what you are doing, you will not only continue to burn, but the flames (pain) will get worse and worse.

The same concept applies if you are in a very heated argument with your spouse. If you fail to recognize that the relationship is on fire, you will not be able to put it out in time to save it.

So the next time something, anything, is on fire, stop what you are doing. Stopping is the easiest step in this emergency strategy. If you are in an argument, stop talking. If you are thinking about how your boyfriend or girlfriend just dumped you, then stop thinking. If you are standing on hot coals, then stop standing. If you are throwing rocks at passing cars, then stop throwing. The moment you realize you are involved with something negative, stop what you are doing.

Being a rock climber, one of the techniques you learn when you are near a large rock face are certain verbal calls. For pretty much anything that falls off the rock headed down below, you need a yell. This is simple; we just yell the name of whatever it is that is falling. The most common is rock or rope, but I have heard ‘camera’ too. When you are at the base of a climb and you hear “rock” you had better stop what you are doing and pay attention. By stopping, you can pause to see what is headed your way and hopefully deal with it before it is too late.


By dropping, you are taking the correct response to that situation by refusing to allow it to control you any further. When you are on fire, are you supposed to run? No, that would be ignoring the fact that you are on fire, as well as fanning the flames; giving the fire oxygen. We have to face our fears to deal with them appropriately.

Running away in the middle of a heated argument might also very well allow the negative situation to continue to burn. So what is dropping? It is a change in your physiology or current direction. If you are standing, then sit; if you are sitting, then stand. If you are on fire, lie down – change your body. The more drastic the change, the more likely you are to be able to control the situation and change direction.

This can seem confusing as you might consider running a drastic change in direction too – but really, running doesn’t focus on the issue at hand (such as being on fire) and in an example of a heated argument with a loved one – running might be closer to fanning the flames or abandoning the situation.

So imagine the direction you are headed as negative, positive, or neutral. When you drop, you are changing your direction and forcing control over your body, which also controls the mind.

You drop what you are doing as an extension to the first step to this strategy, which is to stop.

Imagine that you are carrying with you some very heavy and very negative suitcases. These large pieces of luggage represent your current baggage. Dealing with them with this strategy is all about stopping and just dropping these bags to the ground. Completely letting go and drastically changing the current process. As soon as you drop them you release the control that they have over you and from that point you can move on.


Why are you supposed to roll when you are on fire? Because, it will put out the fire. The sooner you roll the better. We can stop and realize that we are on fire. We can drop to change our physiology and start the process of our response. However, this awareness and action may do little to solve the problem. That’s where roll comes in.

A roll is a pattern interrupt.

It is anything that you do that is very unique and different than what you are currently doing in the moment. But most important, it must interrupt your current focus. Rolling is a creative response to our situation. It puts out the fire and makes it harder to catch fire again in the future. Rolling INTERRUPTS the fire.

Okay, so you are in a very dangerous debate with your significant other. You realize the relationship is burning down around you and you decide to stop what you are doing. Which means you shut up.

You are standing so you decide to change your physiology and so you sit down. Don’t just plop into a chair, but instead, do your best to make it more obvious that you care and are taking actions to remedy the situation. Your mate will notice your choices, but we are currently still dealing with our own anger and trying to keep ourselves from doing further damage to the relationship. Even if you fully believe you still need to get your point across, you are taking the right steps in making the choice to gain control of yourself first.

Okay, so you stopped talking and you sat down. So do I really want you to lie on the floor and start rolling around? Well, yes and no.

You have to understand that a pattern interrupt is anything that is very odd and different that will completely change your focus and the dynamics of the situation. So if rolling around on the ground makes it almost impossible for you to think about your current emotional state of anger, by all means start to roll. But you could also pour a glass of water on your head. You could do a little dance and hop around pretending to be a chicken. The idea of a pattern interrupt is simply anything that can distract you in that instant. But if you can distract your mate at the same time, that too will help. It depends on how out of control the fire is. Consider putting on some music and inviting your partner to dance and take up the argument again later.

When dealing with more than one person, you can use the same principles for the group as you can for yourself. If you want to change the negative direction of others, you use the same strategy:

01 Find a way to get them to Stop

Perhaps you say or do something that gets their attention without causing any grief or anger.

02 Find a way to get them to change (drop) their direction and their Physiology.

Perhaps you ask them to sit down, turn around, enter another room or anything that makes it almost impossible to continue with the current debate.

03 Find a way to completely interrupt the current pattern and fire.

Perhaps you play some music that connects them to a different and more positive emotion.

It can take some creativity but once you truly begin to understand how this strategy works, you will also discover how easy it is to apply.

What do you do once you have put out the fire? You can then respond with some positive communication and/or go on with your life and try to keep the fire from starting again. If it does, then stop, drop, and roll again. Yes, repeat the process over again. Each time you do so, you build up a resistance to fire.

If you are setting yourself on fire by constantly thinking about a very negative experience, such as when your significant other left you after the heated argument went too far, you need to keep interrupting that pattern of thought until it no longer has the same effect. You can do this mentally as we discussed earlier, or you can do it with your body which is an almost instant pattern interrupt.

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Now is the time, when all is calm and nothing is on fire, to think about how you will handle the next burning situation that presents itself in your life. (Trust me, it will!)

Remember a time when you were (figuratively) on fire. Did you Stop, Drop, and Roll? Probably not. Recall and redesign the events with this new strategy.

About the Author RICK TEW

I will do the splits for you too. I provide edutainment events that help you to be a Ninja in what you do. I offer Martial Arts Therapy Retreats on Samui Island in Thailand. My unique Winjitsu Mind-Body system of coaching inspires you to BE more fulfilled and to DO more to KickStart your ideas.

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