Think about the times you were either told you were “too emotional” or heard this statement being said to someone else? Maybe this led you to start to hold in your emotions or label others as not being able to manage their emotions.
We all have emotions, and many are more in touch with their empathetic and emotional self than others. The challenge that you have when you are in touch with your emotions is that you can be very reactive. For example, losing your temper quickly, becoming very excitable, not knowing when to stop talking, saying the wrong thing that upsets someone else or doesn’t help your situation. It can be a minefield.
When we find our emotions overwhelming it can cause -
1) Relationship conflict with partners, friends or family
2) Conflict with colleagues at work or with other children/peers if still in school or college
3) Difficulty relating to others
4) The urge to drink or take drugs
5) Physical or emotional outbursts
In the modern age, it is much more acceptable to talk about your emotions although the challenge is to manage them until it becomes an appropriate time to express them.
This is all part of emotioneering the modern mindset. Emotional Intelligence is something that many of us must work on. A few weeks ago, I released some work on understanding your emotions and the next step is to manage your emotions. Also known as emotional self-regulation.
Managing our emotions has a lot to do with our biology, temperament, personality, exposure to trauma, ability to inhibit impulses, interpersonal interactions (social communications), empathy, our values, our focus, shift of focus, control and management of distractions or frustration.
Life as a human being can be stressful. Whether positive stress or negative stress, stressors are part of everyday life. When a person has a meltdown or shuts down it is often because they have run out of the fuel that helps them manage stressors. We often see this from people that usually have a calm and empathetic nature, then one day they snap, and it is out of character because of the level of stress they may be under at that time. In extreme circumstances this is much more likely as the fight or flight response is triggered. Other people you meet could have always had emotional outbursts or struggled to keep relationships. This could be because, as mentioned earlier, the trauma they have experienced or the lack of opportunity to learn these self-regulation measures as a child.
Let me tell you a story, one day in a boardroom meeting I was shouted at and completely humiliated by my boss. I was extremely upset and rushed to the toilet where I was in tears. I could not understand how someone could speak to one of their employees like that especially in front of other people.
The challenge was that I had a whole day of training workshops to deliver which was about to start in 5 mins. I knew that I could not let down the people that were booked for training. I composed myself and completed the day in a way that no one would know what happened prior to the start. I made a choice, control my emotions or let my emotions control me.
I finished the day with my head held high, I didn't forget what happened - the rest is a story for another day 😉
“Don’t learn how to react, learn how to respond” – Buddha
There is a great experiment and self-regulation test that was conducted on children with marshmallows (you can watch the fun and short video here). The children were sat in a room with a marshmallow in front of them and were told they can eat the marshmallow now or if they wait until the adult comes back in the room they can have two marshmallows. It was to test and help them learn about their impulses.
When we are managing our emotions the way to break this down is to think about training ourselves to:
1) Calm down quickly after something exciting or upsetting
As mentioned earlier an emotional meltdown or explosion often happens when we are under a lot of stress already. Finding ways to channel that anger is best. For example, boxing or hit a ball, I play Volleyball for Swansea as an example so that always helps to release frustration and build up tension. Some form of strenuous exercise will help. Anger is an acceptable emotion it’s all about finding the right way to channel it. Writing it our or singing it out can also help.
2) Focus on a task and stay focus over a period of time
This can be trained although it is also about prepping yourself for the task in hand. Removing as many temptations as possible. If you are constantly checking your phone as an example maybe you will need to leave it in another room or turn the notifications off.
3) Control our impulses (like the marshmallow video)
As above it’s about testing yourself and trying to go that little bit longer every time. Some people may have urges or impulses about food or drink. If the urge is very strong it may require removing the temptation or like in the marshmallow video rewarding yourself with delayed gratification when you have resisted for a certain timeframe.
4) Learn behaviour that helps us to get along better with others
Our social skills are extremely important as one of our main motivations in life is centered around the quality of our relationships. I would suggest receiving feedback on others regarding certain behaviours that you have and then deciding which ones to work on. For example, I used to work with someone that put the phone down without ever saying goodbye or thank you. This type of behaviour they believed was quite normal but then realised that a lot of people that they worked with found this rude, so they adapted to say goodbye and thank you. Still briefly although it was better for a cohesive working environment.
5) Adapt a message to get a better outcome from our communication
One of my favorite analogies is that you can poke someone in the eye, and it will hurt or if you go slowly you can touch the whole eyeball without them feeling a thing. This is what I mean by adapting a message. The message is the same it’s the way that we communicate it that’s different. We learn from the times that maybe we didn’t communicate so well. Have a think about those situations and wrote down as close as possible what you said. Now wrote down what you could have said instead. You can’t rewrite the past but you can use the past to help shape the future.
There is a lot of work to be done when it comes to managing our emotions. I often think of Ant Middleton in ‘SAAS – Who Dares Wins’ the TV programme. There are some situations that the contestants have to put themselves through which really test their physical and emotional strength, when we are under pressure, we can learn a lot about ourselves.
This is why I also love being a coach and counsellor as I’m helping people to navigate their emotions and empowering them to take back their control. I recently helped someone to lower their anxiety and anger within only 3 sessions. If you would like some help from me then my 30 days ‘Manage Your Emotions’ programme would be perfect for you. You can contact me here. Where there is a will, there is a way.
The Modern Mind Group are an accredited personal and organisational development company. To book a discovery call click here today.