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7 Ways To Stop Yourself From Being A Slave to Your Emotions

7 Ways To Stop Yourself From Being A Slave to Your Emotions

Emotions have a lot to do with our interpretation of an event. Emotional reasoning takes place when we assume something is true because of the way we feel, when in reality, the truth could be very different. While there is nothing wrong with noticing and recognizing your emotions, they also take us away from objective and neutral interpretations of life and can take us off on a tangent clouded with feeling. It can be difficult to learn how to control emotions and not let yourself be affected by others that are emotional around you. If you find that you react strongly to life with emotion, here are ways to be more rational and remove emotion before you take action:

1) Think of your emotions as part of your “map” not as part of the “territory”

Our thoughts lead us to feeling emotions. When we think positive thoughts we tend to experience positive emotions and when we think negative thoughts, we tend to experience negative emotions. Remind yourself that your thinking is your interpretation of an event and that is it never a direct experience that takes place. Our ‘map’ is the filter through which we look at the world. We all have different filters that have been shaped by our upbringings and what we have already learned about the world from our past life experiences. This means there will always be an element of emotional interpretation of the ‘territory’ (reality). Reminding ourselves that our thoughts and the ensuing emotions may not always be an accurate representation of what is really going on, it can make it easier to be less emotional.

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2) Stop and think before acting

Stop and wait for the emotional part of your brain to subside before taking action. The emotional part of our brain is almost always stronger than the rational part. Stopping for your rational brain to kick in is the wisest thing to do when you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Not only with it give you time to gather your thoughts, waiting to act may keep you safe from saying or doing something you regret.

3) Know where your weaknesses lie

Are there specific people or situations that tend to get an emotional reaction from you? When we know where our weaknesses lie we can be more prepared and aware. Keep regular tabs on your emotional levels by rating the intensity of you emotions from 1-10. When you reach 7 on the scale, use predetermined strategies to diffuse the emotional response. Some strategies you may want to employ include counting backwards from 100, deep breathing, or even removing yourself from the situation temporarily. So now all you need to know is — what are your personal triggers?

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4) Own your emotions

Take responsibility for your actions. We cannot control others but we can always control how we choose to respond to others. When we blame others for our emotional reactions we give ourselves a message that we are unable to decide for ourselves. Take back your control by learning to manage your emotions responsibly. Although you have heard it before, putting yourself in the shoes of the other person can go a long way. Remember, the other person has another set of life experiences, beliefs, upbringing, and culture which may not be the same as your own.

5) Learn to practice emotional detachment

You are not your emotions. As mentioned before, thoughts lead to emotions. A great tactic is to try  imagining thoughts as passengers on a bus. You are the driver on the bus and just as you put the key in the ignition, your passengers begin to tell you that you shouldn’t drive the bus as you are a terrible driver, that you may get them all lost or have an accident…oh and by the way, you’re looking really old and fat in that driver’s uniform. If you let the passenger rile you, they are in control and you aren’t. Learn to see your thoughts as passengers on a bus – tune them out and focus on the job at hand – driving. In most situations emotional detachment involves taking action without allowing all the thoughts in your head to constantly distract and upset you. Just remember, your emotions are passengers on a bus that can’t interfere with your job.

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6) Take time out

We all have a resting state-of-tension. Over time, if we don’t check in with ourselves or take a break,we can end up feeling quite tense and uptight for longer periods of time and the resting state-of-tension rises.. When we start to snap at others or burst into tears because we’ve run out of milk, it’s a sign that our resting state of tension is higher than it should be and that we need to take time out. Take a walk, get a change of scenery or do something relaxing to reset the tension level in your body.

Be aware of positive energy coming in to your life – that is, things or people that make you feel good and positive and take not of the negative energy in your life – those people or things that drain you emotionally – do your best to limit these. Ultimately, try to keep a balance so that there is always more positive energy in your life than negative energy. Too much negative energy will lead to stress and overreacting emotionally.

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7) Understand your emotions

Often, when we understand why we react to a situation in a certain way, it can help to lessen the impact of that situation on our senses. Being aware of the reasons behind your strong and intense emotions will help you to make sense of things and feel more in control. You may be triggered when a friend is late to a meeting or appointment because of past experiences which have nothing to do with your friend getting caught in traffic. Getting to the reasons behind your emotions will actually lead to a happier life.

We are emotional beings and emotions help us to feel alive and connected. Learn to embrace your emotions and to understand why they overrule you at times. When we take time out, relax, practice self-awareness and make sure we get enough positive feeling in our lives, we are on the right track to being in control of our emotions instead of the reverse.

Featured photo credit: Robert Vitulano via flickr.com

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

Negativity affects ourselves and everyone around us. It limits our potential to become something great and live a fulfilling, purposeful life. Negativity has a tangible effect on our health, too. Research has shown that people who cultivate negative energy experience more stress, more sickness, and less opportunity over the course of their lives than those who choose to live positively.

When we make a decision to become positive, and follow that decision up with action, we will begin to encounter situations and people that are also positive. The negative energy gets edged out by all positive experiences. It’s a snowball effect.

Although negative and positive thoughts will always exist, the key to becoming positive is to limit the amount of negativity that we experience by filling ourselves up with more positivity.

Here are some ways to get rid of negativity and become more positive.

1. Become Grateful for Everything

When life is all about us, it’s easy to believe that we deserve what we have. An attitude of entitlement puts us at the center of the universe and sets up the unrealistic expectation that others should cater to us, our needs, and our wants. This vain state of existence is a surefire way to set yourself up for an unfulfilled life of negativity.

People living in this sort of entitlement are “energy suckers”–they are always searching for what they can get out of a situation. People that don’t appreciate the nuances of their lives live in a constant state of lacking. And it’s really difficult to live a positive life this way.

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When we begin to be grateful and appreciate everything in our lives–from the small struggles that make us better, to the car that gets us from A to B every day–we shift our attitude from one of selfishness, to one of appreciation. This appreciation gets noticed by others, and a positive harmony begins to form in our relationships.

We begin to receive more of that which we are grateful for, because we’ve opened ourselves up to the idea of receiving, instead of taking. This will make your life more fulfilling, and more positive.

2. Laugh More, Especially at Yourself

Life gets busy, our schedules fill up, we get into relationships, and work can feel task oriented and routine-driven at times. Being human can feel more like being a robot. But having this work-driven, serious attitude often results in negative and performance oriented thinking.

Becoming positive means taking life less seriously and letting yourself off the hook. This is the only life that you get to live, why not lighten up your mood?

Laughter helps us become positive by lightening our mood and reminding us not to take life so seriously. Are you sensitive to light sarcasm? Do you have trouble laughing at jokes? Usually, people who are stressed out and overly serious get most offended by sarcasm because their life is all work and no play.

If we can learn to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes, life will become more of an experiment in finding out what makes us happy. And finding happiness means finding positivity.

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3. Help Others

Negativity goes hand in hand with selfishness. People that live only for themselves have no higher purpose in their lives. If the whole point of this world is only to take care of yourself and no one else, the road to a long-term fulfillment and purpose is going to be a long one.

Positivity accompanies purpose. The most basic way to create purpose and positivity in your life is to begin doing things for others. Start small; open the door for the person in front of you at Starbucks or ask someone how their day was before telling them about yours.

Helping others will give you an intangible sense of value that will translate into positivity. And people might just appreciate you in the process.

4. Change Your Thinking

We can either be our best coach or our best enemy. Change starts from within. If you want to become more positive, change the wording of your thoughts. We are the hardest on ourselves, and a stream of negative self talk is corrosive to a positive life.

The next time you have a negative thought, write it down and rephrase it with a positive spin. For example, change a thought like, “I can’t believe I did so horribly on the test–I suck.” to “I didn’t do as well as I hoped to on this test. But I know I’m capable and I’ll do better next time.”

Changing our self-talk is powerful.

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5. Surround Yourself with Positive People

We become most like the people that we surround ourselves with. If our friend group is full of negative energy-suckers and drama queens, we will emulate that behavior and become like them. It is very difficult to become more positive when the people around us don’t support or demonstrate positive behavior.

As you become more positive, you’ll find that your existing friends will either appreciate the new you or they will become resistant to your positive changes. This is a natural response.

Change is scary; but cutting out the negative people in your life is a huge step to becoming more positive. Positive people reflect and bounce their perspectives onto one another. Positivity is a step-by-step process when you do it solo, but a positive group of friends can be an escalator.

6. Get into Action

Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Negativity is usually accompanied by a “freak-out” response, especially when tied to relationships, people and to worrying about the future. This is debilitating to becoming positive and usually snowballs into more worry, more stress and more freak-outs.

Turn the negative stress into positive action. The next time you’re in one of these situations, walk away and take a break. With your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths. Once you’re calm, approach the situation or problem with a pen and pad of paper. Write out four or five actions or solutions to begin solving the problem.

Taking yourself out of the emotionally charged negative by moving into the action-oriented positive will help you solve more problems rationally and live in positivity

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7. Take Full Responsibility, Stop Being the Victim

You are responsible for your thoughts.

People that consistently believe that things happen to them handicap themselves to a victim mentality. This is a subtle and deceptive negative thought pattern. Phrases like “I have to work” or “I can’t believe he did that to me” are indicators of a victim mentality. Blaming circumstances and blaming others only handicaps our decision to change something negative into something positive.

Taking full responsibility for your life, your thoughts and your actions is one of the biggest steps in creating a more positive life. We have unlimited potential within to create our own reality, change our life, and change our thoughts. When we begin to really internalize this, we discover that no one can make us feel or do anything. We choose our emotional and behavioral response to people and circumstances.

Make positive choices in favor of yourself.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny” ― Lao Tzu

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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