How often do you find yourself losing your temper or later regretting what you said in the heat of things? Triggers, situations or actions of others are beyond our control but what we can take charge of is our own Emotions.
Let not the emotions hijack us. Experiencing emotions is a normal process and there is nothing right or wrong in it. But being able to observe our emotions even when they are overwhelmingly powerful gives us the space to think and then respond. While we cannot pick and choose our emotions but we can definitely choose how we respond to them.
The first step to managing our emotions is to acknowledge how we are feeling. Am I feeling sad? Am i feeling nervous? Labeling the emotions helps us to be more in charge and also understand the reasons why we feel what we do. "I am feeling anxious because the project submission deadline is tomorrow." It's also an opportunity to observe how our emotions effect our decisions.
Managing our emotions is not about suppressing them, but it's about choosing how and when to express them. There is a huge difference between reacting and responding. Reaction is typically quick, impulsive and without much logic, reason or thought. Whereas responding is more calm, thoughtful and allows for assertiveness without being aggressive.
Our emotions, thoughts and behaviour are all linked together. Triggers like events, things and people around us leads to thoughts, emotions and actions. Everyday we are faced with numerous emotions provoking stimulus which requires action or response from our side. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”. — Viktor Frankl.
Practising STOP skills technique has helped me to a great extend to manage my emotions effectively
Stop! Do Not react. Your emotions may take over your act, so stay in control.
Take a mental and if needed physical step back from the situation. Take a deep breath and relax. Do not let your emotions let you act impulsively.
Observe and take a note of the situation. What are your thoughts and feeling? Who are the people around? What are they doing?
Proceed mindfully. Think of what you want to achieve from the situation and Ask your wise mind what is the best way to respond. Consider the consequences.
Definitely, this practice does not come easy and in spite of your best intentions, you may find yourself giving in to those transient overpowering emotions or slipping into habituated ways of responding to situations. But conscious and consistent practise it is possible and healthful to develop emotion management skills.