7 Surprising Ways Your Emotions Can Get the Best of You

... and how to take back control.

Posted Oct 05, 2015

Alliance/Shutterstock
Source: Alliance/Shutterstock

Emotions aren't good or bad. It's how you choose to deal with those emotions that makes all the difference. The key to success is being aware of your emotions, and understanding how to control those emotions so your they do not control you.

Your emotions influence the way you think and behave. It's important to be aware of how your emotional reactivity can change your perception, and ultimately, your behavior.

Here are 7 ways your emotions can get the best of you:

1. Anger Can Lead You to Do Things You Regret Later. 

A lot of good things stem from angry feelings; the Civil Rights Movement, for example, wouldn't have happened if no one was angered by racism. But far too often, angry feelings can lead to harsh words and rash decisions.

Whether you say something rude to a customer service agent who isn't meeting your needs, or you blow up at a client who seems to be wasting your time, angry feelings can lead to disaster if you're not careful. Learn to recognize the warning signs that your anger is growing, and take steps to calm down, before you become so angry you behave in a manner that you'll later regret.

2. Anxiety Can Cause You to Waste Time Worrying.

While there are some things that should cause you to feel anxious, worrying about events beyond your control isn't a good use of your time. Anxious feelings can lead to a lot of worrisome thoughts, catastrophic predictions, and pointless "what if..." questions.

Rather than pace the floors, turn unproductive worry into active problem-solving. Commit to improving the situation and taking steps to prevent disaster, instead of idly worrying that something bad could happen.

3. Frustration Can Lead You to Give Up.

Feelings of frustration can lead to thoughts like, "I can't do this," and "This is too hard." That way of thinking will only fuel your frustration. Ultimately, it can cause you to put in less effort and you may give up prematurely.

Recognize how frustration influences your performance. When you're struggling to complete a difficult task, take frequent breaks and develop a helpful inner monologue that encourages your efforts.

4. Sadness Can Cause You to Withdraw.

When you're feeling sad, you may be tempted to isolate yourself. But withdrawing from your friends and family can make your distress worse. Few people are cheered up by sitting on the couch by themselves.

Choose to engage with others, even when you don't necessarily feel like it. There's a good chance that being around people can help provide distraction, comfort, or perhaps even comic relief.

5. Fear Can Hold You Back.

Fear is uncomfortable, and it's normal to go to great lengths to avoid that discomfort. Yet, avoiding anything that causes you to feel afraid can hold you back from reaching your goals.

Whether the fear of rejection prevents you from applying for a new job, or the fear of failure stops you from starting that new business venture, be willing to face your fears. With practice, you'll gain confidence in your ability to do the things that scare you.

6. Excitement Can Cause You to Overlook Risk.

It's not just uncomfortable emotions that can sabotage your efforts; excitement can be problematic, too. When you're really excited about something, your emotions may cause you to underestimate risk and overestimate the chances of success.

Whether you're tempted to take out a mortgage beyond your budget, or you're planning to quit your job to start a business without a clear plan, be aware that feel-good emotions can greatly influence your decisions. Take time to evaluate the pros and the cons of decisions so your excitement doesn't lead you astray.

7. Shame Can Cause You to Hide.

Shame is a powerful emotion that can make you want to disappear. You may try to cover up mistakes you're ashamed of, or you may try to mask who you really are.

Refuse to keep secrets that stem from shame. Be authentic in who you are and own up to what you've done, despite the shameful feelings that may surface.

AmyMorinLCSW.com
Source: AmyMorinLCSW.com

Want to learn more about how to regulate your emotions and increase your mental strength?

Check out Amy Morin's book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages. 

To learn more about Amy's personal story behind the book, watch the book trailer.