Having experienced mood swings that are strong enough to make me feel downcast during specific periods in my life, I have become really interested in the topic of how to control my emotions better, so as to enhance my overall well-being. Here are some points I find useful in understanding how one can potentially learn to control negative emotions and I hope you can benefit from them as well!
1) Exercise Your Free Will
All of us have the ability to make decisions which are not based on how we feel, although it is not always easy. While we may not be able to manipulate the outcome of external situations that are outside our control, we can definitely choose how we respond to them. For instance, if we had failed an important assignment, we can always allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity and remain dejected. On the other hand, we also have the freedom to choose to manage our negative emotions effectively (e.g. through positive internal dialogue/self-talk) and pick ourselves up quickly. The choices are in our hands and we have the ability to control our emotions instead of letting them control us!
2) Understand the Inherent Qualities of Feelings
It is critical to realize that feelings are often fickle and therefore unreliable. Hence, when decisions are based on impulses of emotion instead of well thought-out planning or just simple logic, the outcome can be highly undesirable. Personally, I have the tendency to buy more things than I should when I am feeling stressed. It felt great at the moment when I was happily shopping but after I had time to think about it, I would usually regret my actions. More often than not, the things that I purchased are not really what I needed and I ended up having to give them away! Fortunately, I have learned to control my shopping impulses much better over the years as I begin to understand how my negative mood affects my behavior.
3) Resist the temptation to defend bad behavior due to personal issues
From my experience and observation, I have realized that most people who behave badly are usually going through some difficulties in their lives which we may not know of. I used to work under a boss that is very temperamental and bad tempered. Eventually, I learned from one of my co-workers that my ex-boss is going through a lot of stress in her life due to the health condition of her husband, while at the same time having to manage her aging parents. Although I am sympathetic to her situation, it did not change my mind that she is someone difficult to get along with and my opinion of her remains negative to this day. This particular experience makes me realize that no matter what a person is going through in his/her life, it is not an excuse to behave badly and make other people’s lives unhappy. If someone decides to defend his/her bad behavior due to unresolved personal issues, he/she will only lose all respect from others and may cause unnecessary interpersonal conflicts. Therefore, despite the challenges involved, the willingness and determination to surrender all excuses and confront personal issues bravely is likely to bring about greater emotional peace and comfort.
4) Get away temporarily from emotional situations that cannot be controlled immediately
I watched a television talk show recently and a participant shared one of her negative parenting experience on the programme. One of her sons was very naughty on one occasion and she was so angry that she spanked him more than twenty strokes! The participant regretted her action and was weeping tears of remorse as she recounted the event. Her distress was not due to her disciplining her son but rather it is the method that she chose to use in her moment of fury. This example shows that it is not unusual to over-react when one is under pressure and feeling strong negative emotions. As such, it is best to get away from a situation, even if it is just for a few minutes, if the emotions involved are too intense to be controlled well. That will allow some time for the negative feelings to cool down and is likely to save one from the disgrace of speaking or acting on emotion.
5) Discipline what comes out from our mouths
The power of words cannot be underestimated and choosing what we say purposefully can help to regulate our emotions. Speaking positively does not mean denying a problem when it exists but it does show effort on the part of the speaker to have a more optimistic outlook. On the contrary, speaking negatively about an unpleasant event is likely to reinforce the bad emotions associated with the experience. As such, it is always best to speak as little as possible about negative thoughts and feelings in order not to let them dominate our frame of mind and poison our mood.
6) Live within our limits
Everyone has limits but they differ between people. My sister shared with me recently about a colleague she needs to cooperate with on a regular basis who is giving her minor problems, as he is not able to keep up with her pace of work. Despite my sister’s “complains”, I find that it is actually wise on her colleague’s part to request for more time to manage his workload from their mutual manager. His request was granted and I can imagine how relived he must have felt! I believe that many of us felt pressured to work more than we can handle and we even convince ourselves that it is necessary to do so. It is no wonder then that we often experience negative emotions such as stress and anxiety. The truth of the matter is, we often have the choice not to overwhelm ourselves with more than we can chew and it is a matter of learning to say no. To keep negative emotions under control, we must strive to live within our personal limits and reject unrealistic expectations from others.
Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed this post and the outfit look featured too!