Emotions are the most present, pressing and sometimes painful force in our lives. We are driven day by day by our emotions. We take chances because we’re excited for new prospects. We cry because we’ve been hurt and we make sacrifices because we love. Without a doubt, our emotions dictate our thoughts, intentions and actions with superior authority to our rational minds. But when we act on our emotions too quickly, or we act on the wrong kinds of emotions, we often make decisions that we later lament.
Our feelings can alter between dangerous extremes. Veer too far to the left and you’re bordering on rage. Steer too much to the right and you’re in a state of euphoria. As with many other aspects of life, emotions are best met with a sense of moderation and logical perspective. This is not to say that we should stop ourselves from falling in love or jumping for joy after great news. These truly are the finer things in life. It is negative emotions that must be handled with extreme care.
Negative emotions, like rage, envy or bitterness, tend to spiral out of control, especially immediately after they’ve been triggered. In time, these sorts of emotions can grow like weeds, slowly conditioning the mind to function on detrimental feelings and dominating daily life. Ever met a person who’s consistently angry or hostile? They weren’t born that way. But they allowed certain emotions to stir within them for so long that they became inbred feelings arising all too frequently.
So how can we avoid operating on the wrong types of feelings and master our emotions under the harshest of circumstances?
Follow my six steps to control your emotions and regain rationality in any challenging situation:
Don’t react right away. Reacting immediately to emotional triggers can be an immense mistake. It is guaranteed that you’ll say or do something you’ll later regret. Before refuting the trigger with your emotional argument, take a deep breath and stabilize the overwhelming impulse. Continue to breathe deeply for five minutes, feeling as your muscles untense and your heart rate returns to normal. As you become calmer, affirm to yourself that this is only temporary.
Ask for divine guidance. Faith is our saving grace in our darkest moments. No matter your creed, developing a healthy relationship with the divine world will help you surmount your obstacles more easily. This is because when you believe in a higher force, you also believe in the power of divine intervention to show you what you must do, teach you why something is happening or even save you from a certain unwanted situation. When burdened with emotion, close your eyes, envision a positive solution to your problem, and ask the universe to illuminate the best path forward.
Find a healthy outlet. Now that you’ve managed your emotion, you’ll need to release it in a healthy way. Emotions should never be bottled up. Call or go see someone you trust and recount to them what happened. Hearing an opinion other than your own broadens your awareness. Keep a journal and transfer your emotions from your inner self onto the paper. Many people find it helpful to engage in aggressive exercises, such as kickboxing or martial arts, to discharge their feelings. Others meditate and chant to return to a tranquil state of being. Perform whatever activity is best-suited to you in order to liberate your being from pent-up sentiments.
See the bigger picture. Every happening of our lives, whether good or bad, serves a higher purpose. Wisdom means being able to see past the moment and discern the greater meaning of any given situation. You may not understand it in the beginning, but as time goes by, you’ll begin to see the bigger picture falling into perfect order. Even in the midst of an emotionally upsetting moment, trust that there exists an ultimate purpose which you will come to comprehend soon.
Replace your thoughts. Negative emotions bind us to recurring negative thoughts, creating cycles of downright negative patterns. Whenever you are confronted with an emotion which is making you feel or think something bad, force it out of your mind and replace it with a different thought. Imagine the ideal resolution to your problem playing out, think about someone who makes you happy or remember an event that makes you smile.
Forgive your emotional triggers. Your emotional triggers may be your best friend, your family members, yourself or all of the above. You may feel a sudden wave of anger when your friend “does that thing she does,” or a stab of self-loathing when you remember something you could have done differently. But when you forgive, you detach. You detach from the resentment, the jealousy or the fury lingering within you. You allow people to be who they are without the need for escalating emotions. As you forgive, you will find yourself disassociating from the harsh feelings attached to your being.
A constant reminder of our ardent nature, emotions surge through us at every second of the day. But we often take wrong actions when wrong feelings filter through our mind without restraint. To avoid the burn of acting out during an emotional upsurge, take a few simple steps to calm your heightened spirit and quiet your uneasy mind. When the moment has passed (in hindsight), you’ll be grateful you were able to be the master of your emotions.
Dr. Carmen Harra