10 Tips to Help You Take Control of Your Emotions
Easy, everyday applications for fostering emotional intelligence.
Posted Feb 02, 2018
Although the universality of basic human emotions has been recognizedi, the role, function, and importance of emotional intelligence are often undermined. Emotional Intelligence is a social skill that can help you become more aware and tactful in understanding handling your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. Benefits of emotional intelligence include, but are not limited to, improvements in copingii, well-beingiii, relationship satisfactioniv, and resilience.
The most common model utilized for the ability of emotional intelligence is Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey’s four branch modelvi. In this model, emotional intelligence is divided into the ability to (1) recognize or perceive emotions in oneself and others, (2) utilize emotions to communicate, (3) comprehend and regulate emotions, and (4) be open to and manage emotions to promote understanding and self-growth. Hence, an emotionally intelligent individual is able to perceive, convey, comprehend, and regulate emotions effectively.
The following tips are grounded in the four-branch model and can be used to take control of your emotional intelligence in everyday life.
1. Power Up
It may seem simple but the first, and perhaps most influential, skill of emotional mastery is the mere willingness to tune into your feelings. You may not even notice the moments in which you select avoidance or minimization rather than tuning in. Have you ever had someone ask a polite, “How are you?” that prompted you to respond with an instinctive “Fine,” although you knew wholeheartedly that your response was a white lie? How could you possibly hijack this kind person’s time by explaining a novel’s worth of data for how terrible your day has been? These seemingly simple innocuous moments cause us to create a habit of overshadowing and disconnecting from our emotions. Instead, notice when these instances happen. Be ready to be pen, wiling, and vulnerable, as you take the first big first step in emotional wellness by paying attention to your sincere feelings.
When tuning into your emotions, take a step or two backwards. Ask yourself, “How did I get here?” Hunt for the triggers that may have contributed to your feelings. Did your friend’s comment about your wardrobe strike a deeper chord than either of you would have expected? Are you truly angry at your partner asking you, “What’s for dinner?” or are you simply exhausted from a long day at work? Understanding where our emotions arise from and what evokes them is a crucial component to help you begin to manage emotions. When you notice your emotions, be willing to hunt for the triggers that may have propelled you into your given feelings.
3. Fast Forward
When we become emotionally heightened, a common and crippling side effect is rumination. Not before long, our thoughts encircle us and we become tied up in our own feelings. A tip to emotional management is to step out of your zone in order to gain perspective. Fast forward from that moment and consider what may happen. What are the consequences of our actions? Are we solely affected or do our emotional reactions spark others’ as well? In that future-oriented view, consider what matters to you in that moment. Being able to gain perspective and connect to our ultimate values helps us to attune our thoughts and feelings when we return to the present moment.
4. Zoom In
Improving emotional intelligence is impossible without self-awareness. You have learned that it is essential to tune in and to gain a broadened perspective, however, it is also key to delve deeper. Zoom into the moment itself. How do you know you are the feeling the way you believe you are? Are you cueing into the butterflies in your stomach? Or perhaps your racing heart? Although emotions are experienced worldwide, the experience of emotions is rather subjective. Delving into the moment will help you notice your own signs in order to better understand yourself and craft your tailored coping skills.
5. Monitor the Volume
What can you hear? Anything? Emotional mastery will not be accomplished on mute, that’s for sure. However, even if you can hear anything what, or whom, can you hear? Is it the voice of your inner critic causing feelings of distress or the voice of your grandmother cheering you on from the sidelines? Listening to the voices in our head can help us assess our connections between our thoughts and feelings. In social situations, especially conflicts, we often broadcast our own narrative louder than others. Putting ourselves on mute while we increase the volume of those around us can be a tactful practice in empathy and can assist us in broadening our perspectives.
6. Adjust the Brightness
Negative emotions can weigh heavily on our functioning. You may notice that after letting one dark feeling in, it may invite its equally unwelcome and malicious friends. When mildly irritated, without monitoring your emotions, this sentiment can easily grow to agitation, frustration, anger, and even rage. What to do about this sudden bad crowd? Positive emotions tend to have a similar habit, and can be just as powerful. Adjust the brightness to focus on welcome emotions. Focus on gratitude in the present moment to evoke related feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
7. Press Pause
A tip for emotional management that can be applied in present is to press the pause button. Short on time? This easily applicable skill is intended to take less than a minute. This tactic is particularly useful when you tune in to your emotions increasing.
For example, if you zoom in and notice your anxiety growing, press pause on the situation. Two helpful ways to assist in maintaining a mindful minute, particularly when paired, are (1) deep breathing, and (2) counting. Breathing in through your nose count slowly to five. During this time focus on the changes in your body as an effect of your breathing; you may see your lungs expand, your shoulders broaden, and your abdomen may move. Hold for a moment and then exhale, counting backwards from five, still maintaining focus on your breath as it travels through your body. Even though it is brief, this mindfulness technique can assist you in regaining your equilibrium when becoming emotionally heightened.
A minute isn’t always sufficient to combat our powerful emotions. In order to prevent your emotions taking control of you, you must know your threshold. When do you need to step away? If you are involved in a seemingly unproductive meeting where you find yourself butting heads with all members, are you aware of how much conflict you can handle before you are at your brink?
When pausing and perspective may not be enough, it is helpful to be proactive in knowing when to stop yourself. A key way to press stop is to remove yourself from the situation, change the environment or switch your focus if possible. Are you able to leave the office? Go for a walk? Have a glass of water? Shifting your focus can give you the ability to reduce emotional arousal and regain clarity, functioning, and productivity.
9. Turn Off
You may find yourself shackled to your phone and chained to your computer. The interconnectivity of our modern world can cause us to be easily overwhelmed. Find a balance between screen time and you time. Take time to disconnect from the world and reconnect with your mind, heart, and soul.
Free of distractions, turning off the noise of the world and its obligations allows you to reduce the smog that may be clouding your emotional awareness and management. Use these moments to reflect on situations in which you needed to press pause or stop. Revisiting these events with a clear mind may assist you in forming an improved perspective.
It is certainly courageous to choose the endeavor of emotional growth. You could technically select the option of auto-pilot instead, relinquishing you from the need to use the potentially time-consuming and energy-draining controls noted above. You are brave to embark on this path. It is not an easy one, but it will prove worthwhile in the end.
To help weather the difficulties along your journey, consider this: How do you recharge? This question is not easily answered in a 10-tip article because the method varies from person to person. For one person, it may be meditation, and for another, it may be prayer. For one person, it may be an invigorating workout, and for another, it may be spending quality time with family. In the best case, you will find multiple methods to recharge, giving you several opportunities for self-care, rejuvenation, and improving your emotional well-being.
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