Something many people find surprising when they meet the 40+ year old me is something that those who knew me in my 20's often still tease me about: I used to have a very short fuse and volatile temper.
In my late-20's I began recognizing that my lack of emotional regulation was starting to become a real roadblock to my career, and I dug in to work on it. For nearly a decade, I put such focus on changing my own patterns of behavior that when I look back at the early part of my career, I don't recognize myself at all.
One of the stranger side-effects of the several lifetimes of distance I've put between the current version of me and that youthful one is that I currently find myself constantly surprised when I see people who respond the same way I used to.
My old dog, Zeka, used to rush up to every person she ever met to greet them. Because she was ridiculously cute and extremely sociable, she was almost always granted a loving hello from friends and strangers alike. Yet, on occasion, she would encounter someone who was simply not a dog person (perish the thought!) and they would just ignore her. I will never forget the utterly perplexed look on her face. She didn't appear hurt or disappointed, just confused. What do you mean you don't find me irresistible? How is that even possible?
This is much the reaction I have now when I see people have dramatic emotional reactions to most things. My first thought is almost always, How does that help?
Of course, this isn't to say that I don't have any triggers left anymore. That's not true at all, but in going through this work, I realized a few very important things:
Of course, there is always a great value to harnessing passion. And sometimes passion manifests itself in messy ways -- not all of which you may necessarily want to quash.
But I think the question I currently ask, How does this help?, is worth asking over and over again. If it does, great. If it doesn't, then maybe it's worth looking at alternatives.