In order to understand and grasp how to control emotions, one has to deeply understand how they work.
Emotions are basically 3 components:
- Physical: the body’s reaction to a felt emotion, physical reaction
- Cognitive: the thoughts that come as a result of the emotion, the mind’s reaction
- Behavioral: the action is done as a result of the emotion, usually come as urges rather than thoughtful reactions
Why is this important?
Because it’s all linked.
Control your thoughts, it will control your physical reactions and ultimately allow you to behave in optimal manners.
Now the most important thing is to have a starting point.
Where do we start?
By pointing out and recognizing our emotional reactions.
We can’t fix what we don’t know.
That is why we should study past events and moments that led us to react emotionally or in a way we felt was not controlled.
By studying emotions, what is meant is studying all three aspects of it.
But also and mainly, what triggers it.
Pointing out triggers allow us to foresee potential emotional reactions to which we can either:
- Simply react by avoiding or walking away
OR, and this is what you should be doing:
- Working on reacting in a rational way and being mindful & in control.
Here are a few things to do in such situations:
1- Practice Mindfulness:
How does one practice mindfulness?
- Focus on breathing slowly, this controls your physical reaction.
- Observe your own thoughts, analyze and reflect on them to dismiss thoughts not worth considering; this controls your cognitive reaction.
- Switch to active listening mode, thus shifting your focus to an activity that does not require a reaction from you; delaying your behavioral reaction
Other mindfulness exercises you can practice on a daily basis to train your mind to obey you more effectively are meditation & journaling.
Can stress enough how both of those two are essential.
They allow you to check up on yourself and your thoughts on a daily basis.
2- Break the negative loops:
This is the most important part for sure.
The part where you act.
If you follow and apply the above, there comes a point where you need to take action.
You are aware of your triggers, aware of your thoughts, and aware of how you usually react.
Break the loop by acting in either the opposite manner or one that seems right to you (rationally).
If satisfied, repeat on the next similar situations to create a new reaction to the particular emotion and stop being a victim of your emotions by letting them control you.
3- Always be improving:
In situations where although you tried your best, your emotional side still took the ascendant or in situations where you felt like your reaction was still inappropriate.
Reflect on your spare time (hence the importance of journaling and meditating)
Study again and analyze what went wrong.
Nope, that’s not perfectionism.
It’s just called working on yourself and getting better.