You know those times when something happens, and your first reaction is to Let. It. All. Out?
Yep, it feels pretty great, doesn’t it – for about two seconds. Then, the regret, guilt and embarrassment kick in, and you look around you and see all those judging/horrified/confused/amused faces.
Boy, have I been there – many, many times. And here’s the thing – that kind of reaction never (EVER) ends well – not in the short-term, and definitely not in the long-term.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t let it all out – gosh, you’d have to be an absolute saint to keep all that in – but what I am saying is, you need both a healthy outlet and to learn how to manage your emotions. Your mind (and body) will definitely thank you for it!
So here you go:
The Sweet Clean Living Guide to Managing Your Emotions
First things first – a bit of explanation. You absolutely, 100% need to be able to express your opinions and thoughts – what you like, what bothers you and more.
The problem comes when and if you encounter a frustration – someone acts in an unpleasant way, or things don’t turn out the way they should – and this causes a blow up/sadness/self-doubt.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until the end of time – you are only responsible for your actions, not other people’s. And therefore, even if someone else does something unpleasant, downright terrible or worse, it is not something you can control. You need to react appropriately, even if they’re acting inappropriately.
And here’s how:
Take Your Time
Like I said above – those two seconds where you blow off steam feel AMAZING, don’t they?
But think about the two seconds – five minutes – two years – afterwards, when all anyone remembers is not what someone did to cause your reaction, but your reaction itself? That doesn’t feel so great now, does it?
It does not, no sirree bob!
And you know what else? What I’ve found with myself is that I actually think about the whole situation much more calmly and rationally when I’ve waited a little bit longer to react to something.
So here’s what you need to do:
You need to give yourself time to react.
It requires a little bit of experimentation from you – you need to see how long it might take you for your thoughts to process, and for you to calm down.
Some general ways to give yourself time, is to take a deep breath, and react according to the situation you’re in.
- If you need to give an immediate response (e.g. you’re in a heated discussion) – take a deep breath in for 4 seconds. Allow yourself to breathe in and out for 10 seconds (breath in for 4 – hold for 2 – breathe out for 4) and then tell the other person you need to think about what they’ve just said. Then, you can walk away from the conversation and reply when you feel more relaxed.
- If you have a longer time to respond (e.g. via email, a future date etc) – put the same into practice. Delay replying to the email until you’ve calmed down (it’s not instant messenger, you can ‘ignore’ it for however long you need to!), and then reply only when you feel you can in a calm, rational way.
Ok – so you’ve got through the first step, and reacted calmly and rationally – nice one.
But those emotions are still raging, and you need to do something with them.
Here’s what you do:
Find an Outlet
With managing your emotions, one of the trickiest parts is actually learning how to manage your emotions properly.
Anyone can train themselves to respond correctly to a situations (politicians do it all the time, well, for the most part anyway :P) but how do you manage your emotions in the part which comes afterwards?
You find an outlet.
Anything that can and will –
- Take your mind off what just happened
- Make you feel better
- Calm you down
– (and yes, it does need to satisfy all three of these) will help you process what has happened, and start you thinking about how to respond (eventually and only when the time is right).
Some of my favorite ways to let off steam are:
- Do some exercise (get those endorphins going, and feel good about yourself)
- Watch a movie (chill out and relax – and take your mind off stuff)
- Hang out with friends (but try not to mention what has affected your emotions)
- Have a hot bath or shower (everything seems even a little bit better when you’re taking a shower)
But really – find what works for you, and use this to help you.
Ok – so now we’re calm, but we’re still not quite ready to respond calmly and rationally (if you are, then I take my hat off to you!). But now, we need to:
See the Bigger Picture
When learning how to manage your emotions, it’s almost like you need to reprogram yourself.
Because, the process isn’t just about reacting properly and calming down: it’s also about understanding the cause of why another person/situation affected you like this, and also what caused them/it to be the way they are.
This one is a simple step to describe, but much, much harder to put into practice – you need to see the bigger picture.
Questions to ask yourself include:
- How will this change (relationship/situation) in the future?
- What has this incident shown about (person/place)? Why did it happen?
- Would I want to be seen in the same way? How does this incident/person make me look to others?
- How does it make me feel about myself?
Again, this takes a lot of practice. Start little by little and it will become a more natural way of thinking in the future.
Now that we’ve reacted, calmed down and pieced together what happened and why, and how it affects us, it’s now time to reply, react again or take care of the overall situation.
I guarantee you’ll come out overall feeling much better about yourself, and calmer too.
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Also published on Medium.