Managing your emotions means that:
Once you identify an emotion, you can make a decision and do something about it, leading to a change.
This change can be summed up as:
- a certain action, if something can be done
- an attitude change, when you can’t do anything to change the actual situation
- an emotional change, which means, changing what you’re feeling
Do you know the difference between feeling and managing?
Because it’s NOT the same.
I’ll explain one interesting thing that happens and has happened to me and my mother.
Every time I tell her I’m sad or angry, she tells me:
- But, aren’t you a psychologist? How can you feel like this?
And I answer:
- Mum, I’m a psychologist, but I’m human. I feel the same emotions as everyone else.
Maybe the only difference is that I’ve learned to manage them.
This means that, as a general rule, I DON’T let days in which I’m sad or angry overwhelm me and make my head spin, I do something to recover my inner peace.
What do you do?
Has anyone taught you how to manage your emotions?
The 4 basic emotions
According to the Strategic Brief Therapy, there are 4 basic feelings:
Happiness is something you feel temporarily when it’s external, or permanently when it’s based on your state in the world.
Fear is a basic emotion that helps protect yourself from dangerous situations. Thanks to fear, you can avoid risky situations.
Pleasure comes from the satisfaction of meeting a need or a desire.
And pain comes from situations that aren’t like you’d like them to be or from unavoidable circumstances that make you suffer.
Each emotion, requires a series of strategies to manage it, but before you can, you have to be able to identify what you feel.
And this isn’t always easy.
- Did you know that the underlying emotion for pain is anger?
- That a smile can hide fear?
- Or that pleasure can be used to avoid pain?
Thus, the best way to discover what you’re feeling is to:
Stop, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and following that feeling’s clues.
Then, name that emotion.
6 steps to manage your emotions
To better illustrate how to manage your emotions, I’ll explain sadness as an example.
Imagine that today, when you’ve arrived home after work, you suddenly and inexplicably felt sad.
1. Don’t judge yourself
This is easier said than done.
We’re used to judging constantly everything and everybody constantly, even ourselves.
So when facing different emotional states, you only judge if that feeling:
- is good
- is bad
- if we shouldn’t feel it
Thus, this is the first rule to learn how to manage your emotions is:
DON’T judge your emotions and DON’T judge yourself.
You probably like feeling some emotions more than others, but this doesn’t mean they’re bad or good in essence.
Emotions are natural in human beings.
Do you feel sad?
Then welcome the sadness.
2. Accept what you feel
Accept any feelings you may have.
I know that sadness or pain aren’t as popular, but there’s a reason behind that feeling, so let yourself feel it.
Don’t fight it, because if you fight it, it will stay.
Accept what you feel without attempting to change it.
3. Focus on your body
Connect with your body, because it doesn’t lie.
You can ask yourself some questions, for example:
- Where do you feel the sadness?
- What part of the body is it in?
- How do you feel it?
- Is it an intense emotion or just a small discomfort?
Allow your body to give you more information about your emotion.
Furthermore, your body will help you remain in the present.
Once you’ve connected with what you feel in your body, ask your mind:
- When did you start feeling that?
- What moment of the day do you feel it in?
- What happened at that moment?
- Who were you with?
- What did they say?
- What did you answer?
The idea is to investigate whether something happened that made you feel that way.
5. Look for the belief that limits you
Once you’ve investigated the external situation, now you need to search within yourself, for what really bothered you or made you sad.
You may have some preconceived ideas or false beliefs that led to that feeling.
Find your false belief and analyze it.
- Is what your mind telling you really true?
- Since when have you thought that?
- Do you agree with that belief?
Because whether that idea comes from your parents or someone else, it may be time to look for an alternative.
An opinion that matches your values.
6. Change your perception
Things aren’t black or white, things are in colors.
The fact you’ve felt sad for a long time due to another person’s behavior, or because of a false belief, doesn’t mean you can’t change the way in which you see that situation.
Try to look at the situation from another angle. Turn the tables.
If you change your perception, you’ll be able to manage what you feel.
In fact, changing your perspective may even change how you feel about the situation.
Accept that things affect you because you’re human, but you have the tools you need to manage your emotions and no longer suffer because of them.
And you’ll achieve it when you change your perception.
Managing your emotions, will give you back your power.
If you’re able to manage them, It’ll be you the one who decides what to do and won’t be controlled by your emotions.
This last step, changing your perception, is the most difficult one and you may need help from other people to be able to look at a situation from a different angle.
So don’t hesitate to ask for help, but make sure to do it with those who know how to manage their own emotions and, above all, don’t judge you.