How to Control Anger and EmotionsEmotions are tricky to handle, they are perhaps comparable to guns, you need them for certain situations, but you also need to control them to ensure they don’t get out of hand and cause trouble. People aren’t able to detect emotions with 100% certainty, because they are not universal, meaning someone's emotional reactions to an event will not be the same as someone else’s reaction to that same event.
Many a time our emotions can get us into trouble, whether it is in a relationship, where our first reaction is to get angry, or at work when you get assigned to do some extra work and you react spitefully. Being able to control your emotional reaction can potentially help you avoid trouble and even assist you in the long run.
According to a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, Lisa Feldman Barret, our brains don’t have emotion circuits, emotions are guesses by the brain. It uses past experiences in order to make this guess as educated as possible, but if you have a negative experience related to something positive, your brain will sometimes automatically predict negative things to ensue from that specific thing.
Many of us accept this as it is, but once you understand that the brain is simply making a guess, it allows you to overcome this obstacle and learn how to control negative emotions. By training your brain to make a prediction based on other information in addition to your past experiences to make the prediction more educated you can learn how to control anger and emotions. Here are some tips on how to control emotions and avoid trouble.
Question Your Emotions
When you have an initial reaction to something, take the time out to be curious about why your brain decided to have that emotion. Once you remove yourself from a reactive state and begin to analyze why you are reacting the way you are, you will begin to have more control over your emotional response.
Slow Your Response Time
Many people think that the faster our response time, the better off we are, while this is often the case when dealing with emotions it most definitely is not. When you slow down your emotions response, you actually give yourself the ability to be curious and to question your reaction and possibly choose a different emotional state to be in, as opposed to anger, you may choose disappointment or sympathy. You can use methods of slowing your response time by choosing a relaxing distraction like a walk or meditation to be able to focus yourself.
The Heartmath institute which is dedicated to empowering people to use science to enhance their life has developed a number of techniques that allow them to take control of their emotions. The first is called “freeze-frame”. When you are in a stressful situation, pause and think of a positive experience. Recall the positive emotions you felt in that situation, and bring back those emotions to your current experience. It is then time to include intuition and sincerity by asking yourself how to respond more efficiently to this stressful situation, in a way that would minimize stress? Finally, implement the answer to your question. This is an effective method of putting your reactive mind and emotions in check.
Another method is called the Cut-Thru. Cut-Thru is a technique that provides the ability to "cut through" complex, long-standing emotions, in order to manage them. The first step is to be aware of your current emotions and then take a step back and look at it objectively. A good method is to pretend like it is not you in the situation, rather your best friend, and ask yourself what would you advise them?
Look at The Big Picture
When looking back a few years or even months at stressful points in your life, in most cases, you will see that it worked out in the end, even if you recall all the anxiety involved. It is important to remember this throughout all stressful times, even if something seems terrible at the moment when looking at the big picture, many times it is not as bad as it seems. This will help you retain composure when you are having an emotional reaction and allow you to focus on reacting with the most appropriate emotion to every situation.
Identify Your Tendencies
Everyone has a natural reaction to events, some immediately become anxious, others become angry, and some are afraid. It is important to recognize that you tend to show these emotions if you want to control them. You can then begin to identify why you tend to react with these emotions, perhaps it was an effective method from your childhood, or even a more recent similar experience. Once you have identified why you react the way you do, you will begin to be able to look at your reaction more logically and control your emotions.
Sometimes emotional responses are appropriate, and if when you look at how you react to something and realize that it is appropriate, it leads to an overall sense of awareness and control over your emotions, and despite not changing anything, will allow you to have a feeling of control over your life.
For example, if you smell something rotten, you will often react with a feeling of disgust, for the most part, this is appropriate because you will then not eat it and will not get sick. The exception to this is cheese, cheese typically has a nauseating smell, but once you tell your brain that the bad smell is normal for your cheese, you will be able to eat it.
Understand That You Control Your Emotions
This ties in with the fact that not everyone’s emotional response is the same. If someone can react to a coworker insulting them with indifference, then you can as well, it may just take some work. Once you make the conscious decision to control your reactions using the steps written above, you will eventually be able to control your emotions more and more efficiently over time.