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Three Tips for Controlling Your Emotions

Three Tips for Controlling Your Emotions

    How can you get better at controlling your feelings?

    The language of this question reveals a biased belief that there are bad emotions requiring control – which means exerting power to subdue. Here’s a simply radical shift in perspective: How can I get better at harnessing my feelings? Let’s call it Navigating Emotions.

    In this 5 minute video, Dr. Barbara Fatum offers practical tips for all of us do a better job with our feelings, including ideas on how to teach this invaluable skill to children — here’s the video.

    Easy Tips for Controlling Emotions

    1. Change your perspective

    Emotions, even challenging ones like anger, fear and jealousy, are there for a reason! They’re messages from you to you — there’s wisdom. Instead of “controlling” the emotions, control your behavior. (Hitting, shouting, hurting, running are all behaviors).

    What if we could interact with other people with that same calm, powerful, effortless ease? One major reason we don’t is that we get caught up in small tensions and conflicts. These “bumps” usually escalate into two sides both needing to be right because we’re so good at sensing danger.

    At the very core of our being is a set of reactions that help us survive. Thousands of years of practice have refined our ability to protect ourselves from threat and danger. We don’t have turtle-like shells or tiger-like fangs — we have super-sensitive brains.

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    When our brains perceive a threat, they react to protect us; it’s a survival response built into the limbic brain (or “emotional brain”). Depending on biology and experience, that protection comes from fighting, fleeing, or freezing. Some people also add another “f” — “flocking” or herding together. It is almost impossible to avoid that impulse; we are literally hard-wired to react that way to defend against threat.

    So, if I threaten you, I can almost guarantee that you will react by fighting, fleeing, or freezing. You will “be defensive” by attacking back, retreating, evading, or ganging up with others. Of course, depending on your reaction, you can almost guarantee that I will respond with one of those as well.

    The “threat response” is part of what Dr. Daniel Goleman called “hijacking the amygdala” and is well defined in Dr. Joseph LeDoux’s research. The amgydala is one of the primary emotional centers in the brain; one core function is reacting to perceived danger. As Dr. Peter Salovey says, this reaction is actually an example of the intelligence of our emotions — a kind of “emotional logic” is followed and decisions are made with little or no cognitive thought; the problem is that few of us have developed this aspect of our intelligence.

    So what constitutes “threat” from the amygdala’s point of view? Almost any interaction where someone is trying to take power over someone else will trigger the “survival response.” People try to take power by putting others down, shaming, blaming, embarrassing, judging, discrediting, and dividing.

    You can see this dynamic at play on a daily basis in most businesses, schools, and families. I want to be right so I walk in blaming and judging, putting down other people; if I “make them less” it seems to strengthen my position. The other person reacts in survival mode, and the situation escalates. It happens almost every time. Yet, time after time, I see myself and others surprised and disappointed when people are defensive!

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     2. Create emotions strategies.

    Consider: What do you want to happen next? Based on these factors: What feelings will help make that happen? Do you have any of those feelings? Chances are, in any situation you have multiple feelings — call on the ones that will help you move forward.

    3. Charge your compassion batteries.

    It’s tough to make emotionally wise choices when you’re feelings of compassion are hiding. Interestingly, actively practicing to care about others increases your compassion — which increases your own inner peace.

    One of the basic facts about emotion: Feelings motivate.

    Fear motivates protection.

    Anger motivates attack.

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    Joy motivates connection.

    Disgust motivates rejection.

    Trust motivates stepping forward.

    Sorrow motivates withdrawing.

    Surprise motivates stopping to assess.

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    Anticipation motivates looking forward.

    There are myriad combinations of these expressed in thousands of words for feelings.

    Featured photo credit: Hands Over Heart/Dollarphoto via media.lifehack.org

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    Last Updated on January 18, 2019

    7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

    7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

    Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

    But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

    1. Limit the time you spend with them.

    First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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    In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

    Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

    2. Speak up for yourself.

    Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

    3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

    This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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    But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

    4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

    Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

    This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

    Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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    5. Change the subject.

    When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

    Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

    6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

    Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

    I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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    You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

    Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

    7. Leave them behind.

    Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

    If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

    That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

    You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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