Learning how to control your emotions can be an undoubtedly difficult task. Some people refer to this struggle as a lack of control over their emotions, and others struggle with how to release their emotions in a healthy way. It’s easy to let our emotions cloud our judgement in heated situations, preventing us from responding thoughtfully to those around us. We can say or do things we later regret, all because we never learned or mastered how to healthily release our emotions. That being said, it’s important to still express your feelings rather than bottle them up. Expressing emotion is a healthy habit – just not in a destructive manner.
Knowing how to control your emotions is a habit of emotionally intelligent people. Those with a high emotional quotient or EQ often know how to understand their emotions, and better express their feelings without “losing it”. You can find out if you’re genetically more likely to have a high EQ via DNA testing.
Below, we’ll discuss how you can control your emotions in a healthy way so that you’re releasing your internal stress without doing emotional damage to those around you. With these simple yet salient pointers, you’ll have no trouble expressing how you feel in a productive manner.
1. Control Your Emotions by Regulating, Not Repressing
One of the key components of controlling your emotions is understanding the importance of regulation, rather than repression. Oftentimes, when you are flooded with feeling, your body begins to tense up. You may notice your posture clench or your heart rate increase. Your breathing feels shallow, or you start to feel nauseas.
If you learn how to regulate your nervous system, you can be in a better and calmer headspace to better control your emotions.
While these may seem like relatively unimportant details, paying attention to them can help you settle your body and mind so that you can think clearly to sort through what you’re feeling. The next time you feel your emotions seize up your body, try to relax your shoulders and take a couple of deep breaths in and out.
A couple of exhales can activate your parasympathetic nervous system helping your body return to a more neutral state of mind. Noticing your physical state can also help you identify how intense your feelings are surrounding a particular subject. For example, if you notice your body is extremely tense, it may be best for you to step away and return to the conversation after your body has caught up to your mind.
2. Accept That Your Emotions are Guiding You to an Important Piece of Knowledge
Remember, the goal of learning how to control your emotions isn’t to squash them or repress them. Don’t forget that emotions usually have an underlying truth to them. They can help reveal an unmet need that you’ve been neglecting, or help clarify what your next best move is going to be. Respect your emotions and remember that they’re an important part of who you are and how you communicate with yourself and others.
If you can learn how to filter through the noise and work to find the deeper meaning within them, you’ll certainly be on the right track. Just don’t get into the trap of discounting your feelings. What you feel is your truth– That doesn’t mean your feelings are necessarily correct or incorrect, but you’ll continue to spin your wheels if you deny them. Take them for what they are: A part of you that seeks expression.
3. Give Yourself Ample Time and Space for Processing
Depending on what state you’re in, you may need a break before you’re able to fully come back to a confrontation or assess how you truly feel. It may be best to take a walk or listen to some of your favourite songs after stepping away from a heated moment. That being said, it isn’t enough to just relieve the initial pain point– Make sure you return to your conversation about your feelings once you’re in a better state of mind.
Leaving things open-ended only sweeps issues under the rug and potentially builds greater resentment towards others or yourself in future trials. Find ways to settle your initial source of stress but simultaneously commit to coming back to a situation for some sort of resolution or compromise.
4. Use Communication Skills to Identify What You’re Feeling
Verbalizing your thoughts to someone you love can help you get to the bottom of your feelings and control your emotions in an informed, conductive way. You can even ask your loved one to ask clarifying questions, such as, “you say you’re feeling X, does that mean you want Y?”. This exercise can reflect back to you different emotional possibilities allowing you to confirm or deny an assertion, thereby defining what you’re dealing with.
For others, it may be empowering to write out thoughts in a journal. Sometimes, just getting your thoughts out on paper or through another medium and clear your headspace to control your emotions.
5. Make Sure Your Other Needs are Met
Since our body and mind are interconnected, your physical state can easily affect your emotional state. In which case, it may be helpful to ask if your other needs are met before jumping to any conclusions regarding how you’re feeling and what your next course of action should be.
Did you get an adequate amount of sleep? Did you make sure to eat a balanced diet and hydrate today? These may seem like unrelated factors, but they can certainly take a valid emotion and amplify it unnecessarily. Take a moment to make sure there isn’t anything that might be exacerbating your emotional state. Self-compassion is about making sure that you’re feeling well emotionally and physically, though the two often go hand in hand.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Asking for help is difficult, especially when you feel like you don’t quite understand how to control your emotions. Mental health stigmas, especially around men, make this process even more challenging but know that seeking outside guidance is one of the strongest moves you can make.
Sometimes, it’s best to have a trained third-party counsellor or therapist to help us understand the complexities of how we’re feeling. It’s a fast track to greater self-compassion and care, which will likely improve all relationships in your life, including the one with yourself. With new avenues of online therapy in addition to in-person counselling, you’re sure to find a good match for your needs.
A trusted friend can make an excellent listener as well, but remember that your loved ones aren’t licensed clinicians- If you truly need help, you should seek it from a professional.
At the end of the day, learning how to control your emotions is a lifelong journey. Enjoy the ups and downs of your adventure as you learn how to decode the language of your own feelings.