How to effectively manage your emotions

Do you find yourself feeling like life is an emotional rollercoaster? Like you just have to strap yourself in for the ride because you don't have any control over it? While it can be tempting to point the finger at others for how we're feeling, we really need to take a look at ourselves. 

Have you seen the movie "Inside Out"? It's an animated movie that looks at a wide range of emotions from the perspective of a young girl whose parents decide to move the family to a new city.

The experience of being uprooted from a place that's familiar causes turmoil for the young girl. While the movie reveals a number of messages about emotions, the messages that stood out for me was this - all emotions have a place in our life.

I consider myself to be a positive person and I find it challenging to accept that I can be angry sometimes. Being angry just doesn't seem like something a positive person should feel. But of course it is and I do feel angry from time to time. It's just one of the many emotions we're programmed to feel.

A rainbow of emotions

I did a google search on “emotions” and there are so many lists and models, oh my! But here are some of the emotions that seem to be consistently mentioned:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Disgust
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Trust
  • Anticipation
  • Surprise

Like me, you’ve probably, at one time or another, labelled these emotions as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. But over the years I’ve come to realise that they just are. Anticipation is anticipation. Sadness is sadness. Anger is anger. 

A rainbow is made up of a range of colours. There are some colours that you'll prefer more than others, but together they make a rainbow. Surely you wouldn't think about taking a colour out of the rainbow!

If we think of emotions like the colours in the rainbow, they all have a place and serve us in some way. The key is how we manage our emotions. 

How to manage your emotions effectively

Being able to effectively manage our emotions takes practice. It's like anything, the more we do it, the more we learn and the better we become at doing it. Here are 3 tips to manage your emotions effectively:

  1. Emotions don’t just appear. You don't suddenly feel joyful or angry. What you think creates how you feel. Happy thoughts will lead you to feel joyful. When you're fuming over something, you're likely to become angry. If you want to change how you feel, change what you’re thinking. Try it. 
  2. All too often, particularly with ‘bad’ emotions, we try and push them down and pretend they're not there. Be bold and name how you’re feeling. Imagine a volcano that’s been bubbling and boiling away and it needs to release some pressure. It’s not needing a full on eruption, there's just a bit of gas that needs to be cleared. If someone plugged the top of the volcano, what would happen? The pressure would build up so much that it creates an eruption. So what could have been as simple as a bit of gas being released, turns into something much bigger and uglier. Name how you’re feeling.
  3. Now that you know emotions are created by your thoughts and that naming how you feel will give you greater control, it's time to sit with how you're feeling and understand what's going on. The emotion is there to serve you - suppressing it doesn’t make it go away, it just gets worse. And blaming someone else for how you feel, well that's not going to help because they aren't responsible. Likewise relying on other people for how you feel is a recipe for disaster. You have chosen to respond to an event in a particular way, what is that 'event'? Dive deep on this one, it's very rarely just one event and it's almost always something that's happening within you. Remember the story about the straw that broke the camels back - it wasn't that final straw, it was all the straws that the camel was carrying.

It's time to take charge of your emotions

Just like the young girl in the movie Inside Out, we can learn to manage our emotions. They don’t control us, nor can anyone make us feel a certain way - we’re in charge of our own minds. We choose what we think and how we respond. Managing your emotions will ultimately help you create a more peaceful existence. It's about accepting that life has it's up and downs, and that there will be times when you'll feel angry or sad, or love and joy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on being able to manage your emotions - which of the 3 tips did you find most useful? Pop over to the REALiving Coaching Facebook page and leave a comment.

Live your life as only you can. Your life. Your way. - Tracey x

P.S. Want to know more about how to effectively manage your emotions? Contact me now to find out how REALiving Coaching can help you.