“I want to do so many things besides my job. I am a creative person. I want to explore my creative side. BUT I am not able to control my emotions. No matter what I do. “
Does this sound like someone you know?
Over the past 6 months, I have talked to 150+ people, 24–26 years old, and a surprising majority of them have confessed this to me.
A few years back, I used to watch TV Series / Movies for 15 hours a day. Because if I didn’t, my mind would have time to overthink.
I was going through a tough phase in my life at that time. I had financial issues, relationship troubles, and my career was about to take a drastic turn. And I had the symptoms of depression.
My emotions were totally out of control. I couldn’t control them. But somehow I was successful in ignoring them, keeping myself distracted.
I used to cry, sleep, eat, and binge-watch Netflix.
But guess what, it didn’t work for too long. I found myself crying endlessly, trying to end that pain somehow.
Suicide wasn’t on my mind. Neither did I have any other solution for my pain.
Up until I had my first anxiety attack.
Everything changed after that.
I was never an anxious kind of person since childhood. And this incident gave me the wake-up call I needed at the moment.
I decided I need to change all this. So I consulted a therapist. And I worked on my anxiety.
I educated myself about emotions — what are they, why do they torture us, and how can we manage our emotions.
It wasn’t a single day’s job. But over a period of time, I finally befriended my emotions.
If you are someone who wants to learn how to manage your emotions and gain more clarity, keep reading — this post is for you.
Emotions Are Your Saviour
Emotions are your brain’s feedback on what exactly is going around your life.
Did somebody cheat on you? You feel hurt.
Did somebody do something good for you? You feel joy and happiness.
Did somebody insult you in public? You cry and feel embarrassed.
These emotions aren’t your enemies. They are the feedback mechanism of your body.
Do you recognize that you’re feeling something a lot recently?
How about we use these biological mechanisms as gifts?
What Happens When We Can’t Control Our Emotions?
Do you remember what happened when Danny lost control of her emotions in the last season of Game of Thrones?
She burnt down the whole King’s Landing.
She became the very person she started the fight against.
What happens when we can’t control our emotions?
When we lose control over emotions, we lose sight of what matters. We lose our reason for waking up every day. We stop caring about everything.
We become a slave to our emotions and survivor instincts.
This means it’s inherently significant to work on our emotions; to manage and regulate our emotions.
Recognise Your Triggers
The first step is to always have self-awareness; recognition of WHAT are you doing/feeling?
“I feel XYZ”
Great. What made you feel XYZ in the first place?
Usually, we feel triggered because of one of the following reasons:
- Opposing values/beliefs
- Past Trauma
- Egoistic stories
What was your trigger? Why did you start feeling XYZ?
Recognizing your trigger will help you understand what your emotion is telling you.
Surface Level Emotions Are Only the Symptoms
Understand the WHY behind them.
Your overwhelm, anxiety, anger — all these are symptoms.
They “represent” your real problems — but they are not the real problems themselves.
If you keep treating the symptoms, the real problems are never going to come out.
So pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and reflect on what your real issues are.
Right-Swipe Your Emotions
Would you like to go out on a date with your emotions?
Right swipe them. Just like your tinder matches.
Go out on a date with your emotions. Dress nicely to meet them. Ask about their well-being.
Understand what’s their history — where are they coming from?
Talk to your emotions. Say hello.
If you’re feeling anxious, say…
“Hello, anxiety! Nice to meet you. What’s up?”
Pause. Breathe. And Label.
Do not ever say “I am angry.” No. You’re not angry. You are Amy.
Anger is just an emotion.
How’d you say it then?
“I feel anger”
“I feel anxious”
“I feel overwhelmed”
You are not your emotions. You feel your emotions.
Use this label.
“I feel ________”
This will help you see the emotions clearly.
Feel Your Emotions. Follow the 90sec Rule.
Dr Jill Bolte Taylor in her book My Stroke of Insight writes -
“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds. This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that is re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.”
Dr Jill Bolte Taylor
Consider Your Emotions as Kids in the Park
They will come every now and then, to hug you. Just hug them back, and let them go.
Can you try this? A 90-sec hug, if you may.
There will be 2 challenges in following the 90-sec rule:
- Indulgence: When you indulge in the why/how questions of your emotion.
- Avoidance: When you distract yourself and avoid acknowledging your emotion. Eventually, all the unacknowledged emotions will pile up, and you’ll have to deal with them sooner or later.
Don’t Manipulate Your Emotions
Every positive and negative emotion has something to tell us. Listen to them. Feel them. Appreciate their presence. And don’t manipulate them.
Accept them as they are.
Trying to change your anxiety into your joy — that’s not a healthy approach.
What’s a healthy approach instead? To sit with your anxiety, and let it pass through your body.
How does that sound for a change?
How’d You Practically Gain Emotional Intelligence?
Different stuff works for different people. Try out whatever suits you the best.
Method 1: Journal Writing
Use a notebook or even a mobile app.
Write daily, maybe even multiple times throughout the day.
Write what are you feeling, why do you think you’re feeling the way you’re feeling
Try different journaling prompts.
For starters, try out a 2-line daily journal.
Fill these 2 sentences every night before sleeping
- Today, I was mostly feeling ______
- I was feeling this because _________________
Write as long as you can. The more words you get out of yourself, the better you’d see the situations objectively.
Method 2: Meditation
There are like 100 ways of doing meditation.
What’s the best way of doing meditation?
THE ONE that works for YOU.
But how’d you know which one works for you?
Try those 100 ways. Maybe the first way you try, that’d be the best way of meditation for you. Or maybe the 38th way of meditation — you’d like it the most. Start today.
How Can You Start Meditating?
- Install an app. I use Insight Timer. Headspace is also a popular app. Put on your earphones, sit in silence, and use the app to meditate.
- Sit in silence, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Notice how your body moves. Feel the blood flow in your body.
- Try walking meditation
- Or even mindful eating works.
Method 3: Look Out for Help
One of the best investments I ever made for my emotional intelligence, was to hire my own coach. He helped me recognize my emotional blocks and patterns.
Are you really committed to mastering your emotions? HIRE A COACH.
If you’d like to work with me 1-on-1 about mastering your emotions, drop me an email at email@example.com
Let’s see if we are a match to work together 🙂
Before you go, there’s one point I want to mention.
Repeat this mantra with me…
"WHATEVER I AM FEELING RIGHT NOW... IS TEMPORARY"
- Understanding emotions — What are they telling you?
- Right swipe your emotions.
- Label your emotions.
- Feel your emotions / 90-sec rule
- Don’t manipulate your emotions.
- How’d you practically gain emotional intelligence?
- The 2-line daily journal. 1) Today, I was mostly feeling ______ 2) I was feeling this because _________________
- Meditation. Try an app. Start today.
- HIRE A COACH. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- BONUS MANTRA: “Whatever I am feeling right now… is temporary.”
Originally published at https://www.dipanshurawal.com on June 3, 2020.