How to Gain Control of Your Emotions
The first step towards knowing how to gain control of your emotions is simply accepting that, just like 100% of the human population, we may not always act entirely rationally! Congratulations on making it to this point, the rest is now easy.
1- Think rather than feel. Internal philosophy is a way of life, one that needs training and time to adjust to. Here I’m defining philosophy as conscious thought, probing and exploration into why you do and feel what you do. Once you get into the habit of thinking rather than feeling (with regards to your negative emotions only!), the process will become easier to adopt. The deeper you can delve into an issue then the better equipped you will be to better tackle it. Do you feel angry? Why are you angry? What has happened to cause the action that has made you angry? What core value of yours is it that has been abused?
2- Categorise your emotions into the basics that all cultures can empathise with: Joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation. If you’re feeling jealous for example, appreciate that this isn’t anger, instead this might be the fear that you will be left for someone else.
3- Appreciate your hormonal state. Men, just as much as women, are largely governed by chemistry. Appreciate when you’re in a heightened state of chemical arousal in order to not act rashly. Wanting to send that text to that girl you really like at 10pm after you’ve had a couple of drinks? Perhaps you may be a little drunk? Perhaps you’re more than a little horny? Sleep on the issue and then re-think in the morning!
4- Take a breath. Stop and think before you react. Make it a core rule that neither you nor your partner (for example), have an argument when you are angry. Instead let the other person calmly know that you’re not happy about something, and then revisit it later once you have thought about it enough to be able to properly communicate the issue.
5- Sleep on it. It is commonly considered wise to never go to bed on an argument. Although I agree in principal, because 80% of our brain power is subconscious, sleeping on a matter may actually help you properly appreciate the underlying factors creating the issue. Perhaps book 30 minutes in the morning to chat about it before you go to work? I think it would be better to adjust this age old advice to “never go to bed resentful”.
6- Allocate blame. It is important for us to be able to allocate blame, but appreciate that blame is never black and white. If someone has done something that has wronged you, put some thought into why they have done so. Chances are that something you did, at least in part, was the cause of their action. Share blame and be open about it… But only after deliberation!
7- Is it outside of your control? Rationally speaking, is there absolutely any point in worrying about something that is completely out of your control? No, there isn’t!
8- See the bigger picture. Is it really that big a deal?
Just because you’re not reacting to an emotion doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Don’t sweep it under the carpet, just deal with it rationally