Emotions are bodily mechanisms. We experience an emotion after appraising a situation: something happens, we react, we interpret, and we feel. These reactions illicit various responses. There are a few basic emotions: fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, surprise, anticipation, and trust. Of course, there are others.
Charles Darwin went as far as theorizing that these emotions were traits that allowed species to evolve; they helped them adapt. But what if they are too much? They are sometimes. How do we control those emotions that overpower us? While the answers are up to interpretation, there seems to be some ways we can control, or at least attempt to control these states.
Here are 6 ways you can learn to control your emotions:
What initiates your emotion? The unwanted emotion, I mean. Take a minute to identify your triggers. Get to know yourself. Write it down, say it out loud (to yourself or to someone else). Which negative emotion do you feel? When and where does it occur? Once you have successfully determined those triggers, pick and choose where you stand in the future and where you place yourself. Avoid the situations that send your emotions off the wire.
Dodging those places, times, and emotions are not easy. How can you move forward? Well, you can plan. You can prevent. What emotion are you trying to reduce? Shame? Embarrassment? What about them? You might be giving a speech or presenting a project. Prepare yourself: practice, rehearse, relay. Do all that you can to ensure that shame or embarrassment do not seep through. These preventative measures will help you in future events and occurring emotions.
As you are distracted and fixated on that emotion, try to change it. Draw your attention to something else. These things can be simple: listening to music, reading an article, talking with a friend. Distract yourself. Focus on your sight, smell, taste, touch and listen to something around you. Soothe yourself and find a way to release that emotion. Do something different, something new, something positive.
Redirect your thoughts. You may not be able to change what happened or how you reacted to a situation – but what you can do is move away from it. In any situation: good, bad, or neutral, process what it is that is affecting you. Think about it. It’s okay you are experiencing that emotion. It probably has some merit. Still, don’t let it deter you for long. Move forward. Replace your negative thought process with a positive one. How can you do that? Well, it’s different for everyone – but the first step is to try to smile. Really. Even if it feels false or unwarranted, just smile! Restrain your emotion and hopefully a more positive one will follow.
I should have…I could have…I would have… Well, maybe you should, could, or would. Regardless, you either did or didn’t. Now what? That emotion, that rumination, your overwhelming state of mind can be changed by gaining perspective. What is the solution? How can you go about making that change? Gain insight into your emotions and choose how you would like to react in the future. Consider how others manage their emotions and how you might like to handle them.
After identifying your emotion, focusing on something else, changing your thoughts or gaining perspective, try to relax. Fix your physiology. Alter your position in the chair. Stand up. Go for a walk or a run. Stretch your muscles. Breathe. Work on your breathing patterns. Eat well and sleep well! Just change something about your physiology; it will help you pass through that emotion.