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Are You Handling Your Emotions, Or Are They Handling You?

2013 January 28
by Marquita Herald

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them. ~Oscar Wilde

are you handling your emotionsWhy do we feel the way we feel, and is there really anything we can do about it? Pretty big question no matter how you choose to look at it.

Some people will spend a lifetime attempting to analyze and micro-manage every emotion and response and still never come up with a satisfactory answer. Others claim we have no control over our emotions as they are simply a piece of the puzzle of who we are as humans.

While there is no question emotions are part of what makes life so rich and rewarding, when we allow ourselves to live at their mercy, we can end up experiencing some pretty intense extremes at times – riding on a high one moment, only to be sent to bed hiding under the covers from life’s inevitable challenges the next.

Learning to manage our emotions not only enables us to cultivate resilience against adversity; it greatly enhances our capacity for true happiness and joy. But here’s the truth of it all … either you are handling your emotions, or they are handling you.

4 Simple Strategies to Help You Handle Your Emotions:

Learn to Recognize Triggers to Emotional Highs and Lows.

Managing your emotions isn’t about pretending they are not there, in fact self awareness is the first step to emotional control. If you catch yourself feeling unexpectedly intense or angry about something, make the effort to find out what’s behind your feelings. Taking the time to write about your emotions, in a journal for example, may be able to help you identify important patterns.

For example, I used to experience an inexplicable instant dislike for some people, that was so intense there was a physical quality to it. Once I made the decision to reclaim control, I discovered that the one thing each of these people had in common was a certain way of speaking that reminded me of someone who had caused a great deal of emotional pain in my youth. That discovery didn’t entirely eliminate the emotional response, but it certainly took away the power it had over me.

Stay in the Present

We’ve all said or done things we later regret simply because, for a moment, we let ourselves be ruled by our emotions. When you experience sudden negative emotions, such as anger, fear or anxiety, give yourself time to breathe and create some space so that you can put things in perspective. Are there specific steps you can take to resolve the situation? Will whatever it is that set off your emotional response really matter a week, month or year from now?

Nurture Yourself

Many people consistently put themselves at the bottom of their own list of priorities. Taking care of yourself and making time for activities that you enjoy on a regular basis will boost your overall health and resilience so that you are far less likely to fall victim to emotional swings.

Learn to Alter Your Moods

We tend to assume that moods just ‘happen to us’ and our only option is to wait until they pass. Being able to manage and influence your own emotions is a powerful marker for good health, emotional maturity, and happiness. Try identifying a few “mood boosters” you can keep in reserve for such occasions. We are all touched by different experiences and conditions, but generally things that will work best to shift your perspective are those that make you feel more relaxed and happy – treating yourself to a massage, or getting out in nature for some exercise. If all else fails, do something nice for someone, just because.

The most important thing you can do to become the master of your emotions is to accept responsibility for what you do with your feelings. “I couldn’t help it” or “It’s not my fault” is no excuse. Feelings are designed to stimulate you to action, but you have choices and are accountable for the choices you make.

Your life today is the result of the choices you have made up to now, one way or the other, in response to your feelings. And your life next year will be the result of the choices you make in response to the feelings you have right now.

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13 Responses
  1. February 2, 2013

    This is such a very inspiring post. I have to admit I’ve been carried away with my emotions lately and the effects are awful. I’ve been trying hard to control myself and take over my emotions especially when I get too stressed.
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  2. February 2, 2013


    It’s always a treat to come to your blog. You are informative, entertaining and spot on.

    I think identifying those triggers in each of us is key to living a balanced life. I know my own triggers and I wish I’d actually listen to myself to get past them. LOL. Humans are the funniest being on the planet. You never hear of a horse being traumatized because it’s rider made some off horsey remark. Emotions are like thoughts, totally under our control if we are responsible to them. (There, I said the “R” word too.)


    Rick Lelchuk recently posted..Fear: Is It Your Boogie Monster?My Profile

  3. February 1, 2013

    Hi Marquita:

    Your first point really resonated with me. Learning to recognize the triggers is such an important skill to have in our lives.

    Kevin Martineau recently posted..3 steps to have peaceMy Profile

  4. January 31, 2013

    Knowing we have the power to handle our emotions is the ultimate power. Great post!

    • January 31, 2013

      Thanks Suzie, glad you liked it – and appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts :-)

  5. January 30, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    What excellent tips on handling emotions! Believe it or not, I used to be so introverted and have anxiety attacks. But that was then, this is now. Along my journey, I learned different modalities to stop anxiety. (my little tricks of the trade lol)

    Breathing is one of the ways I handle things if I’m “triggered” into sadness or anxiety. Taking those deep breaths and releasing is a great way to get a grip on my emotions.

    As you said above, emotions can control you or you can control it! I am a firm believer of controlling emotions if they lead to a negative path. But first, we must take responsibility! If we cannot have success, then it is time for a life coach, therapist or whomever we choose to coach us.

    Thanks for addressing this important topic!

    Donna Merrill recently posted..8 Simple Strategies to Nurture Your Online BrandMy Profile

  6. January 29, 2013

    Love these tips, Marquita. I really hate those moments when emotion takes over and then you end up feeling vaguely hungover afterwards. I also try the method of just detaching – whatever you feel, just feel it and observe it without being it or reacting to it. Not easy! But if you can condition yourself to stop (almost like taking a deep breath) and just note your feelings and look at them from the outside, you’re a lot less likely to lose it. I’m with you your point to choose how you want to act, instead of essentially becoming a victim of yourself. That’s tough to do but worth the practice!
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  7. January 29, 2013

    Good tips there Marty…

    I rarely get out of control with my emotions although I’ll admit there are a few people who can still set me off. But I’ve really learned to stay in the present moment, step back, breath and remember that it’s so not worth getting upset over. It’s temporary. Sometimes I do great while other times I admit, not so much. I guess you could say I’m still a work in progress.

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    • January 29, 2013

      I hear you Adrienne – I used to get myself in hot water all the time with my quick temper – who knows, maybe it really is a red head thing. Anyway, eventually I learned to follow my own advice and walk away. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by :-)

  8. January 29, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    I like this “Feelings are designed to stimulate you to action, but you have choices and are accountable for the choices you make.”

    One thing that can manipulate our feelings is stress. And the way we handle stress is up to us. Either we allow it to manipulate us or we allow ourselves to control it and live life with enthusiasm.

    When I am stressed, I do some breathing exercise that can clear my mind from all of the things that frustrate me. I take a few deep, focused breaths to achieve mind clarity so I can thing straight and come up with better solutions to the stressful situation.
    Patricia Anderson recently posted..Live Your Life Purpose: Angie’s StoryMy Profile

  9. January 28, 2013

    Emotional triggers may take us to the past, or they may warn us of present dangers that we are not recognizing.
    candice michelle recently posted..concealed carryMy Profile

  10. January 28, 2013

    Hi Mary,
    Thankyou for the tips. It can be a real challenge learning to control your emotions instead of letting them control. My challenge is to realize this sooner, usually I get stuck in an emotion and eventually think “what am I doing” and just work on recognizing it quicker next time.

    Ben recently posted..A Fallacy In The Law Of Attraction.My Profile

  11. Shane Curtis permalink
    January 28, 2013

    Sometimes I am very emotional when ti comes to problems and it totally strikes me and let me feel so down. I use to struggle this by myself and this post really helps.
    Shane Curtis recently posted..Timber Sliding DoorsMy Profile

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