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