Controlling one’s emotions is not easy, but it can be done! Self-awareness is the ability to pull back and recognize the feeling you are having. When you have an emotional response and are able to bring it into your awareness, the chances of handling it appropriately improve.
You can’t expect your awareness to magically appear, you need to will your awareness. The key is to decide with intention to be objective about your feelings. If you are not aware of your feelings and how to handle them, chances are you may be engulfed, suppressed, or resigned. Today, we are discussing these three elements of emotion; how to recognize them, and ways to control them.
What does it look (and feel) like to become engulfed by emotion? Some impulses seem to be easier to control than others. Anger, not surprisingly, is one of the hardest to control because it often prompts us to react. You likely have felt engulfed by anger at one time or another.
This is the feeling of adrenaline rushing that prompts you to react; often out of impulse. It can be hard to step back from an emotion that is engulfing you. In cases of anger, a cool down period is recommended before you react to allow your body to process and achieve some distance from this red-hot emotion.
We’ve all experienced the awkward and disquieting experience of being with someone who sits on their feelings. Perhaps you just spilled your heart out and shared your feelings about an experience you shared with this person. And in return you received a quiet response. You likely felt out of synch when this happened, or that your emotions were unwarranted. This is a case of suppressing feelings.
It turns out some misguided people mistake emotional self-awareness with emotional suppression. Willing your awareness of your emotions has nothing to do with suppressing them. As you become aware of your emotions you don’t stomp them out, you manage them.
Unlike people who are engulfed by their emotions, resigned people know what they are feeling. However, they do little to try and manage their emotions. For example, if a person is depressed they may recognize and talk about it but do little to take steps to fix and address the problem head-on. Despite clarity about their moods, people who resign to their feelings don’t recognize the power they have to alter them.
What can you do when you recognize these traits?
1. Come to a realization and acknowledge!
“This is anger I am feeling.” That simple self-statement opens the door to freedom. How? It gives you the option not to act on it. It gives you the option to keep it alive or to tone it down. Once an emotional response (like anger, or any other) comes into your awareness – once you pull back and acknowledge what you’re feeling – the chances of using that emotion to your advantage greatly improve.
Through emotional self-awareness, your emotions become tools in your hands allowing you to craft empathic interactions that would have otherwise been lost. The sooner you become intentional about tuning into your own emotions as you interact with others, the sooner you will experience the realization that you can monitor and manage your own emotions.
2. Remember: It’s your choice!
The freedom to choose. That’s the kind of freedom emotional self-awareness brings. Every emotion offers a choice. How will you react when you are presented with a situation? Remember that every feeling also has value. It can teach us something about ourselves. You determine how you will react, and how intense you let an emotion become within you.
Emotional self-awareness can be a challenge. We know that exercising control over our emotions is not always easy. But is becomes easier than we think once we conjure up the will to do so! Emotional self-awareness will give you control over your feelings, and the ability to choose how to handle each situation you are confronted with.
Would you say that you are most likely to be engulfed by your feelings, to suppress your feelings, or to resign to your feelings? Why? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!