Emotional Mismanagement is one of the largest issue we face and is the leading cause of weight management issues. So many people today are feeling out of control, having good emotional regulation skills is linked to overall well-being, so with a little practice, you can take back the reigns. Emotional intelligence is all about having a greater awareness of your emotions, so that you can manage them more effectively. Gaining self-awareness is the first step in being able to manage your emotions properly. Too often we try to pretend we aren’t feeling uncomfortable, or we try to numb out our feelings to protect ourselves from depression, anxiety, loneliness, anger, guilt, hurt, or whatever negative emotions we don’t feel like dealing with at the moment. However, you will do yourself and those you care about a disservice to avoid the bad stuff, because bad things are going to happen weather, we want them to or not. So the first step in managing your emotions in a healthy way is acknowledging and dealing with your emotions as they coming up in the first place. The second step is the choice you make: what you CHOOSE to THINK and DO based on FEELING those feelings, is key to have CONTROL over what happens next. The fact is we CANNOT control how we FEEL. But I have found that what you CHOOSE to THINK and DO based on those feelings, is key to prevent you from falling into a rut of misery.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings, and then from a place of calm clarity, decide how you will respond. You have to take action to have CONTROL over what happens next. You can’t fall victim to that feeling that isn’t serving you and is causing you to feel powerless and overwhelmed. It’s when we don’t feel like it, that we have to fight for what we desire, it’s when we are down that we have to contend for our dreams. There is so much in this world we can’t control but we can control how we react to the things that happen. Let that sink in: we can’t control how we FEEL but we can control how we THINK and what we DO. When we're down, we don't feel compelled to do much of anything. But you DO have the present moment. Take a DEEP breath and stay committed to being right here, right now. In your actions, you will discover that you’re strong enough to not only deal with what is happening but to make the best of it. Focus on YOU and what serves YOU in this life. YOU only have one life to live. So it most definitely should bring you joy, fulfillment, and serve YOU. YOU get to decide. Don’t get stuck in feeling out of control, change your mindset, get into action and get that momentum going in the right direction. Just remember you have the power within to CHOOSE what happens next... CHOOSE wisely!
So I’m going to share my top tips to embrace the uncontrollable, uncomfortable feelings with resilience and reason to be able to successfully get out the other side and enjoy what matters most, instead of settling or getting caught up in the drama of our feelings.
TIP #1: Identify the things you currently do to cope with your feelings and be ready and willing to tune in when they occur!
Knowing what your typical behavioral pattern is when you experience feelings you rather avoid facing, can help you to notice when you are doing these behaviors, to bring awareness to the situation and learn to investigate what is it is you are intentionally or unconsciously doing to avoid your feelings. These cues can help you become more self-aware of your actions and help snap you back to acknowledging your feelings as step one before being able to move on and do anything to regain control. Some of the classic choices are: alcohol, drugs, food, sex, busyness, working, shopping, spending, reading, cooking, gaming, movies, tv, social media, music, etc. But some behaviors you might not realize you’re using to numb out your emotions. These seemingly simple innocuous moments cause us to create a habit of overshadowing and disconnecting from our emotions. Instead, notice when these instances happen. Be ready, wiling, and vulnerable, as you take the first big first step in emotional wellness by paying attention and tuning into (instead of tuning out) your sincere feelings. Don't ignore the feeling- Explore it!
TIP #2: Identify the emotion! Feel the Feeling, by acknowledging it and exploring it!
Taking a moment to check in with yourself about your mood can help you begin gaining back control. Taking a moment to name what you are experiencing and why. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
When did I start feeling this way? When did your emotions change? (Ex: when watching the news, when my boss yelled at me, etc)
Has it changed my facial expression? (Ex: frown, lowered brow, etc)
What am I feeling? Can you name it? (Ex: anger, sadness, etc)
Can you grade it? (Ex: very strong feeling, very small feeling, etc)
Where is it located physically in my body? (perhaps even start with the top of the head and check in with each part of the body, ask "where am I holding tension?")
Describe what it feels like? (Ex: tightness in my throat or chest)
Do I ever remember feeling this way before, if so, when is a time in the past I felt similar energy in my body?
What made me feel this what, what was the trigger?
Identify the areas of your life that are making you feel that way?
Feelings can be complicate, so it's important to not get attached. Whatever it is, explore it with curiosity, not judgment (we’ll get to that next), and if it helps, write it down so you can explore it more deeply unpeeling it in layers, like an onion if needed, to discover what's at the core. For example, often when we are angry there is another feeling right beneath the anger (often times it's actually pain). When we can identify exactly what the feeling is, and then we take the time to ask ourselves questions and understand what's happening within us, this is the first step releasing the feelings from the body. If we act immediately on the feeling, often we will miss the real cause, and lose the ability to move forward in freedom. So this is a great exercise to do with another person or to journal through these questions, because it is only by expressing the emotion and meaning behind it, that we get relief from the negative feelings. Writing down (or typing up) your feelings and the responses they trigger can help you uncover any disruptive patterns. Identifying specific triggers makes it possible to come up with ways to manage them more productively.
When you realize you’re experiencing a negative emotion, first, see if you can identify what caused you to feel that way. Then, you should identify what the feeling is before, finally, you ask yourself why the trigger caused you to feel that way. Regularly recognizing and naming your emotions throughout the day, and trying to peel back the emotional layers to identify exactly what you are feeling, as well as how those emotions might be manifesting physically, can help you learn how to healthfully manage your emotions.
Tip #3: Let go of the negativity! Resist judging your emotions, accept ALL of your emotions as helpful messengers (some good & some bad), but all are useful tools to determine the best next actions, for the best outcome. So allow yourself to tune in, give yourself permission to truly FEEL the emotion (HEAR the message) without judgement and instead re-frame it!
So often we jump right to our feelings ABOUT a feeling. Try to exercise self-compassion and sit with the feeling without explaining it away, piling another emotion on top of it, or telling yourself what it says about your character as a person. When you stop judging your feelings, you give yourself permission to really FEEL it—which all too often many of us don’t allow ourselves to do. Intense emotions aren’t all bad. Strong feelings can signify that we embrace life fully, that we’re not repressing our natural reactions. It’s perfectly normal to experience some emotional overwhelm on occasion, like when something wonderful happens or when something terrible happens. Accepting emotions as they come up, helps you get more comfortable with them. Increasing your comfort around intense emotions allows you to fully feel them without reacting in extreme, unhelpful ways. Emotions may bring up unpleasant feelings sometimes, but they’re still giving you important information that you can use to your advantage.
Remember, you can't control that you feel an emotion, but you can change how you feel and control how you respond.
Here are some tips to take back your power: P.A.D. - Pause, Ask, Decide
Pause - Take a pause. Stop what your doing. Take 3 deep breaths or slowly count to ten backwards. Remove yourself from the situation, change you environment, or switch your focus if possible: go grab a glass of water, leave the room- if your able, or go for a walk. Shifting your focus can give you the ability to reduce emotional arousal and regain clarity, functionality, and productivity.
Ask - Slowing down to analyze can help you figure out the underlying reasons behind your feelings and lead you to potential solutions.
Can I identify what I'm feeling? (see the step above)
How can this feeling help me?
What’s triggering me?
How do I want to feel?
What is my goal?
Will my action help me achieve that goal?
What is working (keep doing more of that)?
What’s missing? What action could you do to shift things towards improving the situations?
Does the situation have a different explanation that might make sense?
What do I want to do about these feelings?
What effect would that have for me and for other people?
Would you be happy with those effects?
Is there a better way of coping with these feelings?
What do I think I should do about it?
Does this action fit with my values?
If not, why not & what else could I do that might fit better?
Think about what someone whom you respect would think about your decision. Are you happy with that?
If not, why not & what else could I do that might fit better?
Finally, consider what would happen if everyone were to take the same action. If this would be a disaster, then probably best not to do it.
If not, why not & what else could I do that might fit better?
Have you considered this too shall pass, realizing that as overwhelming as things seem they are impermanent. The answers to these questions, helps you to apply reason to an emotional response before reacting. Answering these questions can help put you in control of your feelings instead of leaving them in control of you.
Decide - all choices have consequences, even lack of action has consequences! Move with intention and consciousness. When you make decisions, you can draw on reason, emotion, or a mixture of the two. Emotional decisions are sometimes seen as made in the ‘heat of the moment’, but emotions play a greater part in most decisions than we may be aware. If you have a child, for example, you’ll know that considerable thought may go into the decision about whether or not to conceive. Very few, however, would argue that the decision is made solely on the basis of logic. The best decisions are made using both logic and emotion. If you only use one or the other, your decisions may either not be very balanced, or not support your emotional needs. Instead, you need to combine your emotional response with more rational considerations. Remember your thoughts have power, so be mindful of your self talk. You don’t have to have the answers or know what to do, you just have decide what you want, keep making an effort, being flexible, and course correcting all along the way. Always keep in mind what is going on isn’t happening TO you it’s happening THROUGH you, you can control how you react, you do have choices, and only you possess the power to decide what to do.
By considering possible alternatives, you’re re-framing your thoughts, which can help you modify your automatic first reaction. Re-frame: you have to stop fearing the uncomfortable & embrace that being uncomfortable is just one of the phases to a brighter tomorrow. (Right it’s a part of life- so stop trying to avoid it). Learn that discomfort is a positive thing— when you’re uncomfortable, you are trying something new, you’re learning, you’re expanding, you’re becoming more than you were before. Discomfort is a sign that you’re growing. This means you have to be prepared to handle the discomfort as smoothly as possible. So it’s vital to practice keeping your composure, taking time to grab a glass of water, take a deep breath and calm your system… if you have ever interacted with kids for any extended period of time or have been a leader or a boss, you likely know what I’m talking about, you can’t let what’s going on around you, get in your head and affect how you respond. By remaining composed and calm you think clearer and find solution easier and others are more likely to follow your lead and respond positively.
With practice, going through these steps will help you to healthful modify your reaction to your uncontrollable emotions as they occur and give you time to pause, ask, decide (P.A.D.). In time, these steps will become easier, more automatic and more effective. However, it can take some time before this response becomes a habit. So give yourself grace and have patience.
Tip #4: Perception is everything: so stop & ask yourself "is this a fact or a story?"
Now it’s time to put your observations to work to help you figure out how to regulate our emotions. Ask, what are these feelings REALLY telling me? Tuning into the answers, helps you recognize what you might really need in the moment and allows you to act on those observations. Your emotional responses don’t necessarily have much to do with the current situation, or to reason, but you can overcome them with reason and by being aware of your reactions.
Emotions are strongly linked to memory and experience. If something bad has previously happened to you, your emotional response to the same stimulus is likely to be strong. Emotions are also closely linked to values: an emotional response could tell you that one of your key values has been challenged. Take some time to notice your emotional responses and consider what might be behind them, whether values, memories or experiences.
Also consider what results in positive emotions and what is more negative. Challenge the negative emotions by looking for evidence against them. Remind yourself that feelings aren’t facts, feeling something doesn’t make it true. So remember, taking the time to ask the questions, to review the facts, can help you change how you feel and control how you respond.
Don’t let your interpretation of something cloud the facts. Instead be open and curious, likely the solution is right in front of you, but we can’t solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. Let go of what happened in the past. Stay focus on the recovery (what you will do now) rather than focus on the mistake (what happened), because you can’t change the past but you can shift the future. Our ability to learn from our mistakes provided us the opportunity to change and improve. Questioning your actions during and after the situations without judgement builds emotional intelligence. Remember how powerful that self-talk is so stop listening to other opinions. Don't let others rent valuable space in your head. Stop comparing yourself to others. Again self-awareness is key; self-compassion as an alternative to self-criticism. The only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday. This helps you take personal responsibility for the outcome of your life and the actions that shape your future. Don't give the key to your happiness to someone else. If life is not what you desire, it doesn't matter who's fault it is but it's your responsibility to overcome and build the life you desire. Don't fall victim to staying stuck in suffering. Choosing not to change, is also a choice. In order to have self-awareness you have to be conscious without judgement of your own character, feelings, motives, and desires, as well as how others see you. It's time we had unconditional love for ourselves.
Acting on your observations of a feeling, is different than acting on a feeling itself. If we always acted on our feelings, well, that wouldn’t be best, because our feelings are emotional, they want us to do irrational things. Instead, we’re investigating our emotions to find further information to help us cope with them, not directly act on them.
Asking what an emotion is trying to tell you can lead you in so many helpful, illuminating directions. It could be telling you something as small as “You need to stop scrolling and step away from social media for a bit,” or something bigger, like “You need to investigate further why everything is irritating you lately. Maybe that’s common link is within you” Or quite simple maybe all this feeling is telling you is that you need to grab some food because you’re hangry.
Tip #5: Regulating your feelings is better than you’re preventing yourself from experiencing and expressing feelings.
You can’t control your emotions but you can control how you let them affect you. You could even go a step further, and try to determine how the presence of certain emotions affects your behavior, productivity and overall perception of the day. High positive energy enables you to perform well, but (take it from me) that state is not sustainable for long. Sooner or later, you need to reduce the energy. Stay positive, and you will recover quickly. Dip into more negative feelings, and you will feel burnt out. High negative energy is quite an uncomfortable place to be: it feels like you’re fighting for survival all the time. Again, you will have to reduce the energy at some point since it could lead to burnout. Then some go too far the other way to numb themselves. When you consciously suppress or unconsciously repress emotions, you’re preventing yourself from experiencing and expressing feelings. Either way can contribute to mental and physical health issues. When learning to exercise control over emotions, make sure you aren’t just sweeping them under the rug. Healthy emotional expression involves finding some balance between overwhelming emotions and no emotions at all. You wouldn’t want to leave them running at maximum all the time. You also wouldn’t want to switch them off entirely, either.
The best way to respond to an emotion will differ for each person: once you’ve identified, you've unpacked it, you’re practicing some self-compassion around it, the last logical step is expressing the emotion somehow instead of keeping it inside you. Sometimes that's as simple as letting it go because it no longer serves you. By increasing your awareness of all feelings and experiences, you’re teaching yourself to sit with those feelings, to notice them without judging yourself or attempting to change them or make them go away. There is a certain sense of relief and freedom that comes with not having to suppress the feeling any longer and just allowing yourself to feel the feeling. This practice allows us to CHOOSE how to mindfully and safely express our emotions instead of taking them out on others or falling into destructive patterns. But it is important to work through the emotion instead of trying hard to not FEEL something. Again it's productive to feel discomfort. With the practice of these tips most clients are experiencing lower more manageable feelings of the emotion, instead of the typical: repress, repress, suppress, -aholic, erupt!
Tip #6: good health- equips you handle things to the best of your ability!!
Good Health may not be your ultimate goal itself, but when we feel our best, is when we are best suited to handle what life throws at us. Your health affects your brain health and mental performance. So please hear my heart on this…don’t forget to take care of your own body too… give your body the proper fuel, hydration, activity, and sleep needed to run at your best, so you can up your odds to overcome the challenges of life.
The more I practice these tips, the freer I feel and so will you.
Hopefully you have found these tips helpful & can check out so many more on the blog, as areas to be mindful of & how these areas can effect your overall outcome. SO REMEMBER YOU CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL HOW YOU RESPOND & HOW PREPARED YOU ARE TO HANDLE WHATEVER HAPPENS.
We live in a world where effortless perfection seems to be the standard, instead of normalizing the fact that we all experience stress, sadness and anger, and that there’s nothing “wrong” with those feelings. I remember feeling frustrated with myself, that I was feeling miserable, when everything was seemingly fine. I remember thinking why can’t I just be happy. Thus, the majority of people try to avoid and hide their discomfort. Complacency is something to fear, more than COVID. Playing it small and settling for a life less than what you are capable of, in order to avoid the fear of discomfort is a serious problem. Thus, we started the Resilience Project!
So for those that this day might be hard for - I feel you, you don’t have to pretend to be happy, but use that pain for purpose… you CHOOSE how to make the best of it and what good can come from that pain. We don’t have a privilege of a practice life… we get one shot, so make it count! Witnessing our thoughts, not reacting out of old habit, and becoming present empowers us to better craft our lives the way we desire. So stop living in autopilot, be conscious and present... be... here... now... 𝕐𝕠𝕦 𝕔𝕒𝕟’𝕥 𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕘𝕖 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥’𝕤 𝕘𝕠𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕠𝕟 𝕒𝕣𝕠𝕦𝕟𝕕 𝕪𝕠𝕦, 𝕦𝕟𝕥𝕚𝕝 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕘𝕖 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥’𝕤 𝕘𝕠𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕠𝕟 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟 𝕪𝕠𝕦.
Often these difficulties go hand and hand with other aspects of your life. Take a FREE Well-Being Assessment to determine what areas to focus on first. None of us are perfect, we start where you currently are, let's setup a meeting to customize a plan to suit your needs, and create an action plan that takes you from where you are right NOW, to where you WANT to be!!! When you think you CANT, you won’t! When you think you can, YOU WILL! Only YOU can decide how you wish to show up every day… CHOOSE wisely! Check out other great tips on the Resilience Project post!
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