“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.” — Joel Osteen
I’m an emotional being. I truly am. It’s part of me. Ingrained into my DNA. Maybe it’s because I’m an empathetic human. Or, maybe it’s because I’m just a lost soul. Either way you slice it, that’s who I am. Take it or leave it. Like it or not. But sometimes I truly wonder how I can stop being so emotional all the time. How can I take things with a grain of salt? As an author, I’ve certainly developed a thicker skin over time. But it’s still permeable. It isn’t made of concrete or steel. More like wood. And it certainly can be penetrated.
Still, over the years I’ve learned to deal with it. I went from a hyper-sensitive person, to someone who’s in far more control of their emotions. But let me tell you this. It wasn’t easy. Not by any measure. However, if I can do it, anyone can do it. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Now, if you’re an emotional being and you find yourself being emotional all the time, you and I must be kindred spirits. Truly, we are one and the same. You are likely an empathetic person who wears your heart on your sleeve. I love that.
However, being emotional all the time will not serve you. It will make you jump from situation to situation. You’ll be okay during periods of time like months or maybe even years. But then, suddenly, the heat of the moment will end up burning you for a lifetime. It could result in the loss of friends, partnerships, clients, money and just about anything else. Sure, it’s okay to be emotional some of the time. But, it can also destroy any sense of progress when you simply fly by the seat of your pants.
How To Control Your Emotions
When you’re an emotional person, the term “control” doesn’t often apply to you. When you can control your emotions, you’re not governed by wild swings of behavior. And you make excuses for yourself after the fact. You say things like, “I wear my heart on my sleeve,” or, “I’m just a really passionate person,” or “I just go all in and that’s how I am.” Want to know the truth? You’re unhinged, like a door that swings wildly in both directions. But that’s okay. It happens. We are human beings.
Yet, there are things that you can do about it. You’re not merely subjected to being controlled by dramatic mood swings that take you from elated and excited to depressed and angry in the matter of moments. That’s not healthy. And it doesn’t impart any chance for success in any endeavor in life. When you’re an emotional being, and you can’t control those emotions, you’ll fly off the handle. That could lead to destructive finances, relationships, businesses, health and so much more. In fact, if you can’t get control of your emotions, you’ll likely lack control of your life.
If your emotions get the best of you on a frequent occasion, it’s time to stop and think about things before you react. Often, we feel like it’s out of our control. But if you know that you have an instant emotional reaction to things, and they tend to throw off your sense of peace, there are things you can do. You’re not completely out of luck if you’re an emotional being. You just have to pick your battles and learn to place enough distance between yourself and the event in order to avoid having a reaction you might later regret.
1. Do not respond immediately
If you want to stop being so emotional and keep those emotions in check, you can’t respond immediately. Look, I know how I am as an emotional being. I am hypersensitive to external stimuli and I easily get offended. For those reasons, I know that if I respond to an unpleasant situation right away, that I’m going to say or do something that I’m going to later regret. So I step away. I place time and distance between the event and myself. If I respond immediately, I know it’s going to be a heated exchange.
I might say or do something that I later regret. That is how things get destroyed. It’s an easy way to burn relationships to the ground. So if you are an emotional person, and you want to stop being controlled by your emotions, just don’t respond. It’s plain and simple as that. You might find it difficult at first. But, when you consciously remind yourself that you need some time, you’ll wait. Whether that means hours for you or days, you just have to wait it out until you’re calm, cool and collected. Then, and only then, should you respond.
2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
Sometimes, you have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How do they feel? What’s going through their minds. You can’t simply expect to know another person all the time. You can’t simply place your thoughts into their mind. Are their feelings valid? If you’re an empathetic person, then you likely feel the energy from other people. But, even if you do, can’t let it be personal all the time. Every person is unique and each of us is going through different situations in life. Some people are facing very tough times and you would never know it from the outside looking in.
You simply can’t relate to another person in most cases. They say that you should walk a mile in another’s shoes. But oftentimes you just can’t. You don’t know what that person is going through so you can’t just guess. It’s a difficult situation. When someone else is causing you emotional unrest, how do you keep those emotions in control? How do you avoid being so emotional all the time? Well, knowing is half the battle. Try to be understanding. Attempt to look at things from the other person’s perspective as hard as it might be.
3. Find one thing you can learn about the situation
Tony Robbins once said that the cure to his anger in a situation where someone deceived him and he was forced to file a lawsuit against this person, was to try to figure out one thing he could learn about a situation. What could he take away that would help him out in the future? That was the primary question. Of course, there were many things he could learn. But one thing was that how he was so impressed with someone who was able to duplicate a lot of his work and turn it into a business. It takes real cunning and effort to be that duplicitous.
However, here’s the thing. When you look at a situation, even when you feel that this situation has wronged you and helped you towards your demise, there are things you can learn about it. There is information you can glean for the future. You can easily use certain clues to be less susceptive in the future. Maybe you won’t be taken advantage of because of it. Rather than fly off the handle, so to speak, use events and situations to your advantage by learning something from each of them. Use those takeaways to ensure you head in the right direction in the future.
4. Understand that not everything is personal
It’s hard not to take things personally. When someone cuts me off on the highway, there’s this voice in the back of my head that tells me this person did this to me knowingly and on purpose. All sorts of thoughts pervade my mind as a result. Obviously, it’s infuriating. But what if this person is just having a bad day or not paying attention. What if it is not personal. How can we learn to take things with a grain of salt and not let it affect us so deeply that it ruins our day entirely? That’s the difficult part. But you can’t take everything personally.
If you take everything personally, there is no way that you’re going to stay sane. Your emotions will definitely get the best of you. Instead, allow it to slide to the wayside. Don’t let it unhinge you. Do not allow it to set you off onto a tangent or to get so angry at someone that it destroys your own integrity or sense of self. When you learn to not take things personally, you’ll also lead a much happier and carefree life. But that involves letting go. It involves not worrying so much about the external forces of the world and focusing on your internal sanctity.
5. Breathe and let go
Sometimes you just have to breathe and let things go. Give it to God or Allah or Buddha or the spiritual oneness that binds us all. Take up meditation or yoga or other breathing techniques and make it habitual. Block out the pain and the anguish and just breathe in the universe. Realize that you’re not here for a very long time. And learn to let things go. Don’t hold onto grudges or allow things to get you so emotionally worked up. It won’t help you and it certainly won’t serve you into the future.
Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, also known as the relaxing breath. That involves releasing all the air in your lungs first. You exhale out all the air that you’re holding in before you can begin. Then, count to 4 and close your mouth while you breathe in only through your nose. This is important. It must be only through your nose for a count of 4. Then, you hold that breath in for a count of 7. Afterwards, you release it slowly while you count to 8. Then, you simply rinse and you repeat over and over again.
6. Allow people to be critical of you
We are all humans. And as humans, we are all fallible. But we also hate being judged and criticized. In fact, we can’t stand the notion of others being critical of us. It sends us off into raging tangents and we become emotional wrecks. So why is it that we allow this to bother us so much. How come other people’s opinions of us matter to such a great degree? Why are we so offended by it and why do we allow it to make us so emotional? It’s never easy being the butt of other people’s criticism. But if you don’t let it go, you’ll never be at ease with yourself.
Instead, allow people to be critical of you. Allow that criticism to come in like waves from an ocean striking the shore. But then watch as those waves move back and dissipate. It’s only the ego that’s harmed here. Nothing more. Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you. There’s a reason why this was said as children. Yet, as adults, we do allow words to hurt us. In fact, in some cases, those words can lead to major violence. Don’t let it escalate to that. Let it wash over you instead and simply move on.
7. Make fun of yourself
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I take myself too seriously. I find myself frowning instead of smiling. I don’t feel lighthearted. All I feel is stressed out. But sometimes you have to make fun of yourself. You have to poke fun at who you are and what you do. If you don’t, you’ll live such a stringent life and you will never feel at ease with yourself. It’s not easy to do. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it is. But smile. Look in the mirror and actually practice smiling. And watch funny movies. Learn to laugh and joke and feel like a kid again.
I know what you’re thinking. Life is so hard right now that you can’t make fun of yourself. Things are going to bad that there’s no way you can just kick back and smile and laugh. But you know what? There is real power in our thoughts. It’s easy to get stuck in one line of thinking and have tunnel vision. It’s far harder to break free of that. Yet, we can all do it. And it doesn’t take much effort. Like anything else, it’s a habit that develops slowly over time.