How to control unwanted emotions in any situation?
Do you often react out of anger and then regret it later? Do you often feel so overwhelmed that you self sabotage your own happiness? Emotions can be powerful and almost all of us are often ruled by our emotions. This is why it becomes imperative that we gain control over your emotions and become mentally stronger.
“If you do not have control over your mouth, you will not have control over your future.” – Germany Kent
We’ve all been there: We’re freaking out about something that just happened to us — what someone did to us, said to us, or didn’t do for us. And we’re pissed or terrified, or defeated — our emotions have become overpowering. What do we do now to get our emotions under control when they’ve already gotten completely out of control?
After spending the last year researching and writing my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection IRL, I’ve learned that there are tons of ways to better manage our emotions in the long run — for example, we can develop positive thinking skills, reappraisal skills, and resiliency, but these skills require effortfull practice over long periods of time.
Sure, learning these skills is a great idea, but maybe you’re just not sure what to do (take this well-being quiz to figure out what skills to focus on), or you just haven’t gotten to it yet. So what do we do right now to control our already out-of-control emotions?
6 Science Based Tips to Control Your Unwanted Emotions:
1. Cut off the negative thought spirals
“Negative thoughts stick around because we believe them, not because we want them or choose them.” – Andrew J. Bernstein
When bad things happen, sometimes we get stuck ruminating about these events, thinking about what happened — or could have happened — over and over. Often it’s these ruminative thought cycles that drive our emotions up, and not the actual event itself. So to control these emotions, we usually just need to stop having the thoughts that are creating them. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
One strategy is to play “I Spy.” It might seem silly, but naming different objects you see around the room can help you redirect your thoughts to other more mundane things so that your emotions can get a rest and start to calm down. Another strategy to redirect your thoughts is to get up, do something, or change your surroundings — for example, you could excuse yourself to go to the restroom, or if the situation allows, go for a short walk. This approach helps give you a moment to reset and take your thoughts in a new direction.
2. Take deep breaths
“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” – Anonymous
“Take a deep breath” might seem like a simple platitude, but it actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm high-arousal negative emotions, like anxiety or anger. So breathing deeply is key when it comes to managing our more challenging emotions.
Because the brain has a harder time making good, rational decisions when emotions are in the driver’s seat, we are also likely to make better decisions if we take a few deep breaths first. So when emotions start to feel overwhelming, pause. Take a couple of deep breaths, and bring those intense emotions down a bit so you can carefully choose what to do next.
3. Generate some positive emotions
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
Once you’ve calmed down somewhat, and you’re thinking clearly again, it’s helpful to try to infuse some positive emotions into the situation to help beat back those negative feelings. One way to do this is to look for the silver linings in whatever it is that’s bothering you.