Emotions can arise mysteriously and be misleading, often going against your better judgment. You get angry over what’s fickle; upset with what’s spoken in jest; and fall in love with the wrong people.
Happiness flows out of being aligned with your emotions. Oscar Wilde said, “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, and to enjoy them.”
There are three important aspects when it comes to your emotions:
- Subjective: your perception, awareness, and experience of the emotion.
- Physiological: how your body reacts to the emotion.
- Expressive: your actions and behavioral response to the emotion.
In order to master your emotions, here are 3 effective strategies:
1. Notice & Label
Self-awareness is the beginning of change. Label your emotions as they arise. Say what you’re feeling out loud. But do it without judgement.
Imagine stepping outside of yourself and observing how you would respond. This is key for breaking any visceral responses you typically may have and putting yourself back in control.
This simple strategy was applied in a study by people with spider phobias, and researchers found that they had lower physiological reactivity. It’s like hitting the release button on a pressure valve.
2. Reframe & Replace
As you label and become more aware of your emotions, begin to reframe your emotions and the situation which triggered them.
Begin to ‘listen’ and see every emotion as your helpful messenger, steering you to the best possible scenario. Rather than avoid and shut out negative emotions, reframing can turn frustration into a teacher for patience; anxiety becomes a teacher for courage; sadness and rejection becomes an opportunity for a new direction in life.
Another reframing strategy is to see someone who’s angry with you as having a bad day. Reframing techniques are ancient—Marcus Aurelius said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
3. Breath & Stand Tall
Tony Robbin’s popular teaching and phrase “motion creates emotion” highlights your ability to manipulate your emotions through changing your physical state. A forced smile or laugh will still cause the brain to release endorphins; power poses are now common practices; yoga practitioners teach breathing techniques and physical postures for inner change.
When negative emotions arise and you’re struggling to push through. Change your physiology. Close your eyes and take in a few deep breaths; take a power pose; smile; or do push-ups or go for a walk. Changing your physical state will help to readjust your emotions.