Emotions connect us to each other. They are the barometers that we use throughout the day to determine our well-being and degree of happiness. When we feel sad or lonely, these feelings can lead us to seek out comfort and companionship from friends or family. When angry or hurt, these emotions can indicate that we need to try to change our circumstances in order to feel better.
For some people, however, their emotional life tends to resemble more of a roller coaster than a barometer, with ups and downs that leave them feeling wiped out and drained. These feelings may cause them to act impulsively, without stopping to consider the consequences. They become so caught up in the waves of their emotions that they may do and say things they later regret.
If you struggle at times with your emotional well-being and would like to learn to get your feelings under control, the following are some considerations and skills that may help:
- Think before you act. When we feel carried away by the strength of our emotions, we can sometimes throw caution to the wind and act in rash and irresponsible ways, especially if we are feeling angry or hurt. Taking a few deep breaths to calm down before responding to someone who has upset us can give us a chance to catch our breath and think through the situation.
- Consider the bigger picture. When we get caught up in our day-to-day dramas, we often forget that which is most meaningful to us. When we feel upset, trying to look at the situation from a different perspective can offer us an opportunity to gain insight, into either the other person’s point of view or the wider panorama of our lives. Is winning another argument more important in the long run than trying to maintain loving relationships with our partners?
- Change your circumstances whenever possible. If you are truly unhappy in your relationship or your job, consider the fact your emotions may be trying to give you a wake-up call. Tune into your heart and follow your inner calling. If your relationship has been having more downs than ups recently, couples counseling may be a good option to help you get back on track. If you feel as though your job has been causing you more heartache than fulfillment, looking for another one or seeking training in another field might be the best course of action.
- Practice radical acceptance. Regardless of how well we care for ourselves, there will always be situations that arise that are upsetting for us. Accepting those challenges as an integral part of life can assist us in creating a greater sense of peace.
- Take up journaling. If you experience a lot of emotional ups and downs throughout the day, journaling can be a helpful exercise. Writing down the struggles that you have been facing can help to get them off your chest and give you more peace of mind.
- Learn to forgive. Holding grudges and resentment toward another can be extremely toxic for our mental and physical health and well-being. By releasing our inner anger and bitterness, we can open ourselves up to greater compassion and love toward others, as well as toward ourselves.
- Sit with your emotions. When you experience a lot of emotional turmoil, try to spend a few moments sitting down and tuning into your feelings. Let go of your thoughts surrounding the emotions and focus on the actual sensations arising in your body. For example, if you are feeling angry, where are you feeling the anger? Does it manifest as a tight ball in your stomach or as tension or clenching in your jaw? Wherever you feel your body contracting around the sensation, spend a few moments just breathing into that feeling.
- Practice mindfulness. Our emotions can feel like a roller coaster ride when we allow our thoughts and fantasies to get the better of us. When we think negative thoughts, these affect our emotions in powerful and negative ways. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario or replaying over and over again an unpleasant memory, practice being mindful of what is happening in the moment and letting go of any thoughts of the past or future.
- Share your feelings with others. Rather than stuffing your emotions inside, express them to others whenever you can. If you are feeling upset about an incident that occurred with a loved one, allow yourself some time to cool down and consider the situation more rationally. Then try to share your emotions to get them off your chest and reach a better understanding.
Learning to deal with our emotions in a healthy way, rather than letting them run our lives, can make a tremendous difference in our ability to maintain a sense of stability and inner peace. If you are still struggling with managing your emotional well-being after trying some or all of these skills, you may want to consider meeting with a compassionate therapist who can lead you on the road to a healthier and happier state of mind.
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Wendy Salazar, MFT, therapist in San Diego, California
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