One of the largest issues among the general population is that we are completely enslaved by our emotions. Rather than acting based on our intelligent minds, we are reacting to our emotions on impulse, causing a catastrophic effect on our society.
Think about it: people are so quick to act based on a moment, that they are willing to destroy everything based on an impulse. Men and women leave their partners over lust, with their families left to suffer the consequences. People walk out of their jobs daily, because of one moment of stress, without worrying about the bills they must pay to survive, and others are murdering random people due to one moment of anger. So where do we begin to pick up the pieces and to change not only ourselves but our world for the better?
Fortunately, there is a way to get ourselves out of this mess, and while I may sound abrupt by saying it, we must start by taking responsibility for ourselves. We have to reign ourselves in and stop making excuses for our actions. Thankfully, I have found a number of helpful tips to begin this journey.
1. Know Yourself and Your Weaknesses
This may sound easier said than done, or it may sound like common sense, either way, it is important. If there are certain people, thoughts, or situations that trigger your emotions so intensely that they cause you to react too quickly, know them. When you feel your emotional levels rising, understand that this is a trigger situation. Then, take some time to meditate and to hash out a plan on how to handle them mindfully.
2. Learn When to Distract
In some forms of therapy, the therapist asks the person receiving therapy to make a list of distraction techniques. For example, when you are so overwhelmed by emotions that you know if you reacted you could make a choice that would change the course of your entire life, don’t react. Instead, distract yourself. Your list could go something like: take a walk, clean the house, go grocery shopping, or visit a wise friend. Make up your own.
3. Learn When to Soothe
If you are overwhelmed with sadness, anger, etc., and feel the urge to react in a way the could be perceived as irrational, soothe yourself. Take a hot bath, or eat a comforting meal. Do something that will soothe you to the point of being calm enough to react in a way that would be helpful, not hurtful.
4. Understand How You React to Your Emotions
When you become angry, how do you usually react? Do you break things, or yell hurtful things at other people? When you become overwhelmed with sadness, do you sleep your days away, and put off your responsibilities in such a way that it interferes with living your life? Know your boundaries and understand how you react. Now, create new coping mechanisms. This will take some time, however, understanding yourself and how you react is the best first step.
5. Write Your Emotions Down
Journaling can become an amazingly empowering tool to help you understand your emotions. Start writing daily, if only for a few minutes at a time. Log your emotions and your reactions. Then, once a week, look back at how you handled them. Now, jot down a game plan.
6. Own Your Actions
It can become easy for us to blame our intense reactions on others. For example, that person in traffic made me so mad that I drove erratically, and got a speeding ticket. Instead, understand that YOU are responsible for your actions, not another person. Only you can control how YOU react to your emotions. The correct statement would be I allowed my anger to get the best of me and acted irrationally. Therefore, I am responsible for my ticket.
7. Take a Step Back
Instead of constantly reacting to stimuli, like a wild beast, you need to take a step back. Think about the situation, your emotions and how your reaction will affect your course. Now, do you think you should react based on your emotions? Your answer will most likely be no.
8. Practice Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness has become the core of a variety of therapy options including dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Both forms of therapy have been used in a variety of patients with varying mental difficulty, however, anyone can benefit from them or mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply the ability to observe the current moment without judgment rather than reacting to each moment. There are a variety of videos and books available online.
And just to help you along on your journey, here is a mindfulness meditation video to aid you on your journey. Namaste.