Have you ever regretted something you said or did? I have. At some point, I’m sure you have too. In hindsight, I’ve found that I acted on impulse or let my emotions get the best of me. Though it is easy to categorize emotional outbursts as simple reactions triggered by environmental stressors, it is possible to control them. If you begin to recognize yourself as the master of your emotions, there will be fewer moments of regret.
Develop emotional intelligence
Fostering emotional intelligence is perhaps the first step towards mastering your emotions. Emotional intelligence has been a buzz-worthy word for the past few years, but what is it?
Generally, emotional intelligence involves the ability to identify and name emotions, the ability to harness such emotions and apply them to tasks, and the ability to manage those emotions. Cultivating emotional intelligence will help you better define what you are feeling in a given situation and thus tailor your actions to fit the moment. We often generalize our emotions. For example, spilled coffee on a favorite sweater or an important document, and automatically, the day is ruined. But, if you learn to recognize what you are feeling at that moment, then you will then know what steps to take next so that it does not affect your entire day.
Many other fields are using emotional intelligence as indicators for success, though it is not a guaranteed trait. Luckily, it is a trait that can be cultivated. Some skills that can help you develop emotional intelligence are practicing self-awareness, learning how to channel your emotions, learning how to motivate yourself, and cultivating empathy.
Learn new concepts
Gaining new experiences opens your mind and introduces new perspectives, which in turn allows you to create new behavioral patterns. Some ways to learn new concepts is by experiencing new cultures, learning a new language, or reading a book.
Learning new concepts stimulate your neurons and help create new connections. Scientist suggest practicing an activity that is challenging and complex.
Self-care can influence how well you master your emotions. Scientists at the New Mexico Highlands University have that walking can increase cerebral blow flow, which creates mental clarity. The effects of walking go a bit beyond mental clarity. Exercise can also decrease the chances of ruminating thoughts and decreases neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, thus improving overall mental wellness.
Some other ways that you can be healthy are by practicing good [tech] hygiene, making sure you drink enough water, and getting enough sleep. Meditation and social connection are other forms of being healthy.
Recognize and deconstruct your emotions
If you do not know how to articulate how or what you are feeling, it is difficult to master that emotion. But, before you can articulate what you are feeling, you have to learn what it is that you are feeling. Developing a clearer sense of what you are feeling can prevent binge behavior that stems from emotional stress (Barrett et al., 2001). One way to develop emotional awareness is by keeping track of them. Ask yourself what are the feelings you are experiencing, when did you start feeling that way, and what caused you to feel what you are feeling. This prevents you from generalizing your emotions. For example, feeling bad can be broken down into many different emotions, such as anxious, frustrated, or afraid. Studies show that affect labeling helps reduce related stress and anxiety.
Once you’ve developed a vocabulary for your emotions, you will then be able to deconstruct them down to physical manifestations. Physical sensations are the brain’s natural way of coping with overwhelming feelings. Learning to recognize these manifestations can help you untangle yourself from your emotions. For example, if you are anxious you may feel your heart race or sweaty hands.
Someone once said that happiness is like the weather. It comes and goes. Hence, appreciate it when you have it. I know that during the moments when it feels like it is you against the world, happiness seems like a rarity and thus easy to overlook. But, try to find moments of happiness when there seems like there are none.
Congratulate yourself on something you accomplished. Keep a positivity journal where you express gratitude for something that made you happy. It does not have to be a life-changing event. It can be something as simple as playing with a dog or treating yourself to something. Our brains are hardwired to remember negative experiences, so disrupt the pattern and evolve.
Mastering your emotions is not impossible. It can keep you from drowning in a glass of water, and it can save you from regrettable actions that result from feeling overwhelmed or heated.
Let us know if this article was helpful and if you would like more information on this topic.
Barrett, L. F. (2017). How emotions Are Made: The secret life of the brain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., Reyes, M. R., & Salovey, P. (2012). Enhancing academic performance and social and emotional competence with the RULER feeling words curriculum. Learning and Individual Differences,22(2), 218-224. doi:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1041608010001214
Feldman Barrett, L., Gross, J., Connor Christensen, T., & Benvenuto, M. (2010, September 10). Knowing what you’re feeling and knowing what to do about it: Mapping the relation between emotion differentiation and emotion regulation. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699930143000239
Experimental Biology 2017. “How walking benefits the brain: Researchers show that foot’s impact helps control, increase the amount of blood sent to the brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141340.htm>.
Handler, J. (2018, January 19). Identifying Your Feelings. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/art-and-science/201801/identifying-your-feelings
Pogosyan, M., Ph.D. (2017). How to Master Your Emotions. Retrieved 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-cultures/201705/how-master-your-emotions
Whitbourne, S. (2020, October 13). 3 Ways to Get in Touch with Important Unfelt Feelings. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/202010/3-ways-get-in-touch-important-unfelt-feelings