How to Control your Emotions
No matter what happens, by adversity, challenge and disaster, you are the conductor of the symphony of your mind. Emotional control is available to you and it is a choice to control your emotions, not destiny. You choose what you feel and what you think at all times because your mind rules your thoughts, emotions and body.
The caveat is that you must make the conscious decision about what to think, feel and do. That entails taking responsibility for yourself to accompany your new found freedom. You have to train your emotions based on reason so that you respond to uncontrollable events in a positive and solution-oriented manner. Else, you give your power to somebody else and circumstance will determine how you react. Emotional control involves stopping, thinking and then responding as opposed to immediately reacting.
In this article, I intend to give you a framework from which to approach controlling your emotions, however, if you want lasting change, consider using hypnosis or self hypnosis to create the shift. The following articles are a good place to start: Self hypnosis: How to hypnotize yourself in 4 steps and What is Hypnosis really?
Viktor Frankl: A Beautiful Role Model
A beautiful exemplar of this idea is Dr. Viktor Frankl. A Jewish psychiatrist imprisoned by the Nazi’s in concentration camps and separated from his family. Dr. Viktor Frankl survived around 3 years in the concentration camps and lived to tell the tale in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. His ‘method’ was to find meaning wherever he could through the horrors of Nazi torture. The beauty of a full-moon, the luck of an extra potato in his food, the humanity of a smile taught him how to control emotions and never give up hope. Above all, he never gave up because he was committed to his life’s work as a psychiatrist and wanted to share his discoveries with the world. Here are 3 powerful lessons about emotional control from Dr. Viktor Frankl:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Take a few moments to meditate on those wise words and if your haven’t read Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, I highly recommend it.
Control your Emotions with the Trial Model
Tony Robbins has created a useful model for emotional control and changing the way we feel. It is called the Triad and is inspired especially by neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnosis.
The three sides of the Triad are the three elements that control your emotions. Together, they create your ‘state’. Changing any element of the Triad will impact your state, while changing all three will create a dramatic shift. Learning how to control emotions means being conscious of each of these elements and using them to control your emotions.
“Emotion comes from motion” – Anthony Robbins
The way you use your body causes you to feel a certain way. This goes beyond beyond biochemistry (because obviously food, drugs or serious injury will change how you feel).
If you are slouching over, dragging your feet and looking at the floor with a solemn look on your faces, you’re sending a signal to your mind to feel bad.
But imagine now standing up rapidly! Look at the sky with a big smile on your face and take a deep breath! You have radically changed your physiology, sending a positive and uplifting signal to your mind. The first tool you have to control your emotions is to make this type of dramatic shift in your physiology, the way you use your body. Tony regularly emphasizes that emotion comes from motion, so use your body to your advantage.
Simply said, what you are thinking about and how you’re thinking about it determine how you feel.
If you’re thinking about ALL the work you have to do and how long and difficult it will be, you’re going to feel overwhelmed.
However, if you focus on just the next step of the grand plan and what it takes to accomplish that, you’ll feel like it’s possible! You’ll turn Everest into a series of small hills.
At any given moment, you are faced with 3 key questions that control your emotions that you will no longer answer subconsciously, but will make the effort to address thoughtfully:
– What do I focus on?
– What does this mean to me?
– What do I do with it?
Learn the lessons from Man’s Search for Meaning, you decide what everything outside means to you. Dr. Viktor Frankl found meaning in his time in the concentration camps and it allowed him to survive. In any situation you are presented with, you can find the positive or at least something you can learn. Focus on that or focus on how you will improve your situation. You want to get into a state of mind where you can act decisively instead of being held back from necessary action.
– President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address.
I’m also a big advocate of using music as a way to change your state. Next time you feel down, try listening to a piece by Mozart or Beethoven.
The words you speak and think are vital to emotional control.
If when you angry emotions you use strong language like: “I’m so pissed off!” or “I’m fuming!” etc.. You’ll amplify those angry emotions.
If instead you use words like: “I’m slightly annoyed” or “slightly peeved” you’ll diminish the angry emotions.
Consider words to be filters for expressing emotions. When you say: “I’m so pissed off”, you have a filter that allow more angry emotions through, but when you use diminishing language like “I’m slightly peeved”, you have a filter that allow less angry emotions through. Language and the ideas expressed by language create the frame or context in which you can control your emotions.
The metaphors you use to express ideas also play a major role in how you feel. You can check out my article on The Power of Metaphor for more on that subject.
Making the emotional up shift
From now on, whenever you are feeling less than positive, commit to making a massive, conscious, upwards shift in your state. Stand up, take a deep breath and take up as much space as possible to improve your physiology. Ask yourself how you can solve your problem and think about what life will be like when things are better. Say the word yes, out loud to affirm your commitment to success. It’s time to stop turning towards junk food, television and drugs to change how we feel, those old ways are the equivalent of a toddler running to mama. Use the three elements of the triad, practice them and over time, you will learn how to control your emotions.