How do I control my emotions?
It is very common for people to ask “How do I control my emotions?”.
What I am about to tell you may be contrary to what you actually think will be required to control your emotions.
But, it’s actually less about controlling your emotions and more about allowing your emotions in order for the strength of that emotion to be reduced significantly or dissolved entirely.
As a consequence of this and through the strategies I will be sharing, you will be able to create the space required to not react to your emotions which often leads to more negative thoughts, emotions, behaviours or words but instead to respond.
In this sense, you could say there is an element of control or management of your emotions, but this is just language.
What you resist persists
It might seem strange that I would say you should allow your emotions, but you may have heard of the saying “what you resist persists” and in relation to your emotions, this also applies. Don’t fight it. Surrender.
There are emotions that are very unpleasant and so to be told to accept and allow them probably has you in knots and dare I say some resistance to what I am saying is possibly kicking in.
More often than not we want to get rid of them, so we distract ourselves, avoid going there, deny our feelings and suppress and ignore.
It’s understandable of course, we don’t want to feel negative emotions.
But, the problem with this approach is that they will come back and often times with more intensity and as we experience more and more, the pain or negative emotion grows.
And, the other aspect is, that negative emotions tell us that something isn’t right for us right now and is something that we may need to address.
Let me say though there is a difference between allowing and accepting your emotions and actioning or displaying a behaviour as a consequence of that emotion.
I am definitely not saying if you are feeling angry and feeling like hitting a wall or god forbid a person that you go and do that, that’s not it at all. This is definitely something that must be controlled, but in order to control, you need to be aware and create the space to make a better choice.
In fact, what I am suggesting is a way of actually managing your emotions in order that the outcome changes or your behaviour changes for the better (and you don’t do or say something that may harm either yourself, others, animals or the environment).
The steps I will give you will relieve you of these negative emotions and over time and with practice you will no longer be at the mercy of the emotions that cause you stress, distress, pain and unhappiness.
Mindfulness and Awareness
In most cases we cannot have an emotion without a thought preceding it and this is where mindfulness comes in and awareness.
That is, we begin to watch the mind rather than being oblivious to it and the affects it has on us.
When we watch, we create space, we watch the mind (ego) at work and we can then sense the emotions that come and rather than react we respond.
I’m not going to focus on the mind and thoughts in this article though, but rather the emotions that our thinking can cause.
I can’t express strongly enough though that it would be beneficial and key to start to become more aware and mindful of your thoughts and how the mind works.
This is because our thinking can create enormous and often unbearable pain and suffering and keeps us in a perpetual and never ending cyle of pain. Take for example the re-living of past painful events or even repeating either to ourselves or others something that happened today that irked us or aroused a strong negative emotion.
Until we become aware of the repetitious nature of our mind we cannot be free. With awareness, presence and mindfulness comes transformation, greater happiness and freedom from pain.
To learn more about awareness read my articles What is the Power of Awareness? Waking to a Life Unimagined or What is Mindfulness Practice? The Path to Happiness!
The Nature of Emotions
We are not often aware of our thoughts and the thoughts that create our emotions.
And sometimes we’re not even aware of our emotions to any great degree, but rather the consequences of them – e.g. the things we do or say as a result of these unpleasant emotions that often result in more of the same.
However, we can often be aware of our emotions or feelings at a subtle level which sometimes is just a small level of discomfort or unease. With more awareness you will start to detect what is going on in the mind and body more and more however subtle.
And then of course there are those emotions and feelings that are overwhelming and we feel them intensely. We may not even be aware of any thoughts or actual emotions but the feeling inside e.g. a racing heart or shaking.
So, what can you do when you are aware of an emotion or feeling?
Whether the emotion and feeling is subtle or huge, the strategy I am going to give you will work for either if you choose to do it.
If you want to learn how to control your emotions read on.
Dissolve the emotion in 3 steps
If you are able, it may be helpful to sit and close your eyes and then proceed as follows:
Step 1 – Name the emotion
If you find naming the emotion difficult, you might just need to think of the situation that has given rise to the emotion and ask yourself, “How am I feeling about this?” or “What am I feeling about this” or simply “What am I feeling” or “How am I feeling”.
What you are feeling may not even be limited to one emotion. For instance, you might feel angry and underneath that might actually be fear. So, you might say “I’m feeling angry and scared”.
You can explore it even further. That is, repeat the question/s or dig more deeply “why am I feeling angry?”. The answer might be “because I feel embarrassed”. If you are embarrassed,what feeling does that evoke? It might be that you fear ridicule, losing face or not belonging. All fear based.
Step 2 – Accept the emotion
Acknowledge that you are feeling the emotion and accept it, say yes to the emotion – resist nothing. Allow the emotion without judgement. This is an act of loving kindness and compassion to yourself. When we do this for ourselves we are more able to also give this to others.
Step 3 – Find where the emotion sits in your body
Scan your body and feel where the emotion is in your body. Usually, there will be a feeling of discomfort. Is the discomfort in your head, throat, chest, heart, solar plexus, stomach?
Once you have located the emotion in the body, focus on that spot, imagine a softening at that spot. Imagine ease and softening. We don’t want to apply any force here. It’s not about getting rid of the emotion. That implies a rejection, a quashing or suppressing of the emotion. This is contrary to the process. We allow.
If you find yourself thinking about the event or situation that has created the emotion or your mind starts to take over and you find yourself distracted, come back to just the emotion, sensing and feeling it within the body.
You may find it useful to place a hand on the part of the body that you feel the emotion and again just say yes, accept, allow and soften.
Stay for as long as you need to.
You will find that the emotion will lose its strength or intensity and will begin to dissipate or even dissolve completely.
You can use this strategy any time you feel an emotion that creates discomfort, behaviour or outcomes that do not serve you or others.
Where to from here? Awakening your Consciousness
With greater awareness and presence we can live with much greater happiness, peace, clarity, love and fulfilment.
If we want to manifest a different life, different experiences and a different way of being then we need to raise our consciousness or rather to become conscious (which by the way we have within us already).
The Power of Awareness Online Course by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach is a great way to learn and practise mindfulness and to transform your life in whatever way that means for you.
To learn more about awareness and presence before you take the leap, here are a few more of my articles that may be of interest. I can’t recommend discovering who you really are enough. For sustained peace and transformation it’s the only way.
What is the Power of Awareness? Waking to a Life Unimagined
What is Mindfulness Practice? The Path to Happiness!
What is Presence? And, what is the power of presence?
Meditation and mindfulness meditation are ways to get in touch with your true self and to live with these qualities. If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to explore meditation and mindfulness.
I have reviewed some products and courses that I believe are great value for money and have the best of intentions. The reviews range from the best books to guided meditations and online courses. Click here to browse.
I hope you have found this article helpful.
Please leave any questions or comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
Go forth with ease and just be!