Emotion is something that most people find is outside of their control.
When you feel angry, you can’t help but feel angry; when you feel sad, you can’t help but feel sad. However, emotion and emotional responses have been discussed, analyzed, and dissected by philosophers for centuries. The Stoics believed that emotion was absolutely within in our control, and it was a human responsibility not to act out or display such feelings. Though, not everyone agreed.
Sure, emotions need to be kept in check so we don’t do something we’ll regret in the future, but to dismiss and ignore them completely could be just as detrimental. Humans need to feel and listen to their emotions so that they know how to react during a situation, but control is also vital.
Here are six ways that you can stop your emotions from controlling you.
1. Think Before You Speak or Act
This was something that I can remember my parents teaching me while I was young; I always said the first thing that came to mind. Although this can be an endearing quality in some cases, most of the time it got me in trouble. When someone says something to you that strikes an emotional response, hold off on responding until the emotional part of your brain calms down.
2. Take Responsibility
One of the problems that people have when it comes to controlling their emotions is that they aren’t ready to own them. You need to take responsibility for the things you do or say so that you control your emotions, they don’t control you. When you make a mistake by saying or doing something you shouldn’t have, own your actions and take responsibility for the consequences, good or bad.
3. Practice Emotional Detachment
Although you feel emotion all the time, they do not define you. This is an important idea to keep in your mind as you go throughout your daily life. Detaching yourself from your emotions will help you feel more in control about what you say or do. In essence, this simply means to acknowledge your emotions and then move on. Think of your emotions as passengers in a car; although they may be backseat driving, you’re the one controlling the wheel.
4. Understand What You’re Feeling
Emotions need to be understood before you can really control them. Some people feel an emotion, and then they just let it out before stopping to question where it came from, why it was felt, or even what the appropriate response should be. The next time you feel a strong emotion, don’t try to ignore it or simply let it out, simply stop and try to understand it. Once you understand how you feel, you can start controlling your responses.
5. Give Yourself a Break
It’s much harder to control our emotions if we’re under a great deal of stress. Sometimes people need to take a break so that they can keep their emotions, and emotional responses, in check. Giving yourself time to rest and be alone will allow you to check in with who you really are. We grow as individuals through self-awareness and self-acceptance. Hang out with yourself and figure out what you’re all about.
6. Know Your Triggers
For most people, there will be specific individuals or situations that tend to trigger more of an emotional response than others. This is normal, but you should be able to identify these triggers and avoid them if all possible. If you have to be around certain people or in situations that you know will be difficult emotionally, think of a strategy beforehand. Counting backwards from 100 or breathing deeply are proven to be effective.