At times we can all use tools for accepting emotions. Emotional wisdom isn’t the same as rational wisdom. It defies logic and can lead us into trouble if we don’t learn how to temper the intense urges that accompany emotions.
So how do you manage emotions better?
It’s important to know yourself. What things trigger you? Is it your partner? Is it climate/environmental issues; your job?
Once you know when you are more likely to be emotional, you can build up an arsenal of strategies to help you through
A = Acknowledge; P = Pause; P=Pull back; L=Let go; E=Explore
First of all, acknowledge that you feel emotional. Say something to yourself like, “Oh here we go. I can feel myself getting upset”.
Before you react, make sure you pause. This is incredibly important as it interrupts the unhealthy cycle of reacting instantly to emotions that compel you to take action. We always have a choice about what we wish to react to, even though in those split seconds it may seem as if have no control at all. Pausing for 10 seconds may be all you need to change the typical outcome of what usually happens.
When you pull back, you take stock of the situation and allow your rational brain (the frontal cortex) to have some input into the situation. Pulling back allows us to distance ourselves from the crazy emotions firing up our neurons. One clever way to pull back is to imagine that you are watching yourself on a movie screen. This distance can offer that all important emotional distance/perspective that we need to help us to react rationally.
Talk to others, be more open about your experiences. You will find you are not alone.
Monitor negative thinking. Thoughts aren’t facts – you don’t need to believe and “buy into” every thought you think
Use your wise mind
The Wise Mind is a rare psychological state that a person occupies in their day-to-day life. It is the quiet, optimal mode of acting/thinking that is flexible, adaptive, and holistic.
Emotion mind drives opinion, whilst reasonable mind is fact-based (fact or opinion?) Asking ourselves what ‘wise mind’ might make of this situation will help us to stand back and be more aware of the bigger picture, and help us respond in more helpful and effective ways.
To regulate your emotions means that you need to be aware of them in the first place. Little things going wrong can make you fell angry, sad, frustrated, or even guilty. Figure out which emotion you’re experiencing. It’s only when you know what your emotion is that you can set about changing that emotion.
Shift your attentional focus
Let’s say that you constantly feel inferior to the people around you who always look great. You’re at the gym, and can’t help but notice the regulars on the weight machines who manage to lift three times as much as you can. Drawn to them like a magnet, you can’t help but watch with wonder and envy at what they’re able to accomplish. Shifting your focus away from them and onto your fellow gym rats who pack less punch will help you feel more confident about your own abilities. Even better, focus on what you’re doing, and in the process, you’ll eventually gain some of the strength you desire.
Be more present in the moment. Look at reality.
5 things you can see
4 things you can hear
3 things you can tough
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
The more you use your 5 senses the less your brain will bombard you with nonsense thoughts.
There are many ways to regulate emotions and be calmer. Learn to focus on the right things, regulate your breathing and be more aware of your triggers and subsequent thoughts and behaviour and you’re on the right track!