Emotions are a complicated thing to understand and to handle. There are a some people who seem to have a natural control over their emotional responses, and some of us really struggle. Doing or saying the wrong thing during an emotional situation can have really negative effects. Saying and/or doing the wrong thing at the wrong moment could lead to the ending of a relationship, losing a job or worse.
There are a variety of ways to manage your emotions:
Be aware of and identify your emotions.
Learn to notice when you feel you’re emotions and what they mean for you. When you’re aware that you’re reacting strongly, ask yourself why, what does it mean. Try to label the emotion and understand why you’re experiencing that particular emotion in that moment and accept it for what it is, that it is raw honesty. Attempting to rationalise your behaviour is a way of lying to yourself. Understanding the real reason you’re feeling the way you do empowers you to do something about it.
Negative emotions last as long as you want them to.
If you’re angry about something right now, you will have likely forgotten about it by next year, next week, tomorrow or even in 5 minutes. However, our emotions have the capacity to focus our attention right here and now and we very often lose the ability to consider the potential long-term consequences that a temporary emotional state can generate.
We’ve all done or said something in the heat of the moment that’s caused remorse? Whether it’s anger, fear, resentment, judgement or any other negative emotion will fade quickly enough, because typically emotions last for approximately 90 seconds (Dr Lisa Feldman-Barrett – How Emotions Are Made). The impact of your irrational, emotional response may not be so short lived.
Create space for yourself.
Many of the challenges created by our emotions can be bypassed when we simply pause and take a moment before reacting. Getting upset isn’t something that happens to us. It’s something we do to ourselves, it is ultimately a default, unconscious choice that we have learnt, just like all our other habits and behaviours. Some are less useful than others and some of us are very good at tripping ourselves up, essentially self-sabotaging.
Identify a strong role model.
You wouldn’t take legal advice from a plumber or financial advice from a butcher necessarily would you? Almost certainly not! The same principle applies in where you learn emotional control from. Choose someone either that you know or admire for this ability and talk with them if you can, if not just watch what they do and make it work for you so that you too can learn to maintain your composure regardless of the circumstances.
Develop healthy methods to purge negative emotions.
Your actions/behaviours influence your mood. If you’re feeling bored while doing something, change what you’re doing and come back to it later, you’ll not only be more productive but also happier. Go for a walk, read a book, meditate, have a nap, talk to a friend, go to the gym or go for a run. Do something positive with negative emotions. They are purely energy and we have the choice in how we channel that energy, so stop letting it run your life and use it to your advantage instead. You don’t have to accept your mood. Don’t be held hostage by your own emotions, take control and do something positive with that energy and change it.
Change your breathing pattern to control your state.
Mother majority of people assume that emotions are entirely psychological, but there is a physical component. All emotions are ultimately experienced as physical feelings in your body. As human beings we have learned to label certain body feelings with labels such as; “anger” and “fear.”
One aspect of your physiology that can be easily controlled is your breathing. Notice how you breathe during a situation that is negatively emotionally charged. Are you breathing slow and deep or short, shallow breaths that feel much higher in your chest? Most likely the latter and this is natural as your brain is triggering your Fight/Flight Response.
Here are a few ideas you can try:
Either sitting or lying down, close your eyes and breath in for a count of 3, but instead of counting say ‘Relax’ 3 times nice and slowly, pause for a count of 3, then breathe out for a count of 3 saying ‘Relax’ 3 times nice and slowly again and pause for a count of 3 again. Say Relax in a slow relaxed manner. Keep doing this until you feel you can’t be bothered to keep the routine or you just natural stop and settle into your own natural, relaxed breathing pattern. You may find that you lose track of time, feel slightly woozy and light headed and this is why you must do this either sat or laying down./
7-11 Breathing: Breathe in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11
Wim Hoff Breathing: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/breathing-exercises
If you’re currently used to being held hostage by your own emotions, you know that it feels almost impossible to maintain your composure in times of high stress. Yet you can choose to respond differently to your emotions and make much smarter choices, because at the end of the day our negative emotions only exist to make us aware that something isn’t right for us in some way and we have the ability to make a conscious choice to change them and use that energy to our advantage. They are not there to control us.