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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 September 12, 2019

    12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

    12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

    Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

    While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

    What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

    Here are 12 things to remember:

    1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

    The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

    However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

    We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

    Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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    2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

    You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

    Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

    Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

    3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

    Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

    Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

    4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

    Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

    No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

    5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

    Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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    Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

    6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

    Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

    Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

    Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

    7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

    Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

    Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

    And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

    8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

    When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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    Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

    9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

    Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

    Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

    Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

    10. Journal During This Time

    Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

    This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

    11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

    It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

    The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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    Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

    12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

    The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

    Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

    When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

    Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

    Final Thoughts

    Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

    Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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    Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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