Over the past few years I have learned a lot about myself, particularly as it relates to my emotions, and how to properly manage them. At a certain point in my life, I realized that if I didn’t take proactive steps to better manage my emotions then they would manage me. I used to find myself in situations where I would overreact, worry unnecessarily, or experience anxiety over things that I could not control. However, through lots of self-reflection and personal coaching, I have come a long way in managing my emotions – so much that I am not only sharing some of my experience in this blog post, but I am also working on writing a book about my journey. I thought that I would give you a sneak peek into what I am writing about in hopes that it will help you in some way.
Webster’s dictionary defines emotions as a natural, instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Webster’s defines the word “emotional” as:
- Determined or actuated by emotion rather than reason
- Excessively affected by emotion
- Of more than usual emotion
- Subject to strong states of emotion
I don’t want you to think of emotions as something negative because emotions such as passion, especially for a worthy cause, add meaning and value to life, and drive the desire to persevere. Similarly, the emotion of compassion is a care and concern for others so strong that it moves you to action. In essence, emotions are a vital part of our human makeup and a good thing when properly managed. In his book Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins, a self-help guru and success coach, identified emotions that we should use to bring good into the world and use to our advantage. Some of these emotions include:
Studies have shown that you cannot be a true success in life if you do not learn how to properly manage your emotions. Being excessively emotional means you allow emotions to override your ability to make sound judgment and exercise reason. If your responses and reactions to life are predominantly run by emotions, you are not using much logic or reason when making decisions so it is likely that you will tend to make poor choices. I firmly believe that making good decisions requires examining the facts, applying logic and reason, and using sound judgment. Lack of emotional self-control can be a huge hindrance to making the good decisions.
Let’s introduce a few examples of which many of you may be able to relate. Say you receive a medical bill in the mail for a claim that you know is supposed to be covered by your insurance company. You call the insurance company to explain the situation and receive less than stellar customer service. You are so upset about the situation and the service you received that when your spouse comes home, you snap at him, the kids, and even the dog. Obviously, this scenario can play out in various ways that you had not planned.
Maybe you got stuck in traffic on the way to work and are so frustrated and impatient that at the first opportunity, you speed to get to work and get a ticket or even worse are involved in a car accident. Even if you are able to get to work, you end up far more upset when you arrive than you were when you were simply stuck in traffic. Or you’re in a grocery store and because you are in a hurry, you choose to stand in the line that appears to be the shortest but it moves the slowest. When it’s finally checkout time, you give the cashier a piece of your mind even though it wasn’t his fault. If you react out of emotion every time a situation like this arises, it is not going to produce positive results, especially as it relates to the more important matters of your life.
Consider the workplace. You are having difficulty with your manager at work because she doesn’t communicate important information needed to do your job effectively. As a result, a client gets upset with you because you are unequipped to properly handle a particular issue. How will you deal with the situation? Do you send your boss a scathing e-mail, talk to her when you are upset and highly emotional, or do you think through the situation and make a decision that works out in your favor? In all of these scenarios I just described, it is important to really think through how you will handle each situation, make a logical decision, and avoid reacting out of emotion. Take time to gather information, weigh all the facts, and use sound judgment, before reacting. Good decisions are not made when reacting from emotion. Often this is easier said the done, but everyone improves with practice. I want to share with you a process that you can use to better manage your emotions. The process includes the following steps:
- Collect Facts and Listen
- Pause or Step Away
- Process your feelings
- Choose your behavior using logic and reason
- Move Forward
Let me share a couple of personal examples of how I have learned from and applied this process in my own life. Understand this is not a process that I consciously think about when I am in the moment nor is it something that will apply in every situation. It is, however, a process I realized I use after reflecting on how far I have come in managing my emotions. I am still mastering this in my own life, but the more I apply the process and refuse to allow emotions to run my life, the better results I have experienced.
I recently asked my husband about his thoughts on some business ideas I had spent some time thinking about. In response to my ideas, he started to ask me questions from a sales and marketing standpoint, which is his strength, not mine. At first I was defensive because I felt that he was shooting down my ideas. Then I began to take his questions and comments personally. These were my irrational emotions talking because my husband is always supportive. He typically challenges me to think things through and make decisions that are rational. What I realized in the midst of this situation is that I needed to Listen first, Think, and then Respond instead of immediately reacting. Once I started to listen to his thoughts and ideas, I realized they were good thoughts and things that needed to be considered before moving forward. Now, I come from an upbringing in which the art of active listening was not much practiced; rather offering opinions and defending viewpoints was of primary importance. Using this process has really helped me to better manage my emotions and experience better communication in work relationships and in my marriage. I strongly believe this process can help in effective communication.
I can think of another situation where I had some car repairs completed costing about $1000. When I looked at my credit card statement a few days later, I realized that I was charged twice for the same service repair. When I called the service provider, they defended their position but when it was all said and done, they had actually made a mistake which they never admitted. Finally, I resolved the situation after many phone calls and explanations but in the heat of the moment, I had to force myself to collect the facts, step away, reflect, and choose to respond in a way that wasn’t negative or over reactive. I understand this process is not only healthy for me but it produces more positive results in my life.
Can you relate to any of these situations? What is your natural response to highly sensitive situations? Is it helpful or harmful, positive or negative? What can you do to improve? No matter what happens don’t allow negative emotions to take control. Feel the emotions, clear your head, and then respond.
Successful people are those who know how to take control of their emotions and use them to their benefit. You are capable of managing your emotions. It requires paying attention to your emotions/feelings, acknowledging them, stepping away for reflection and clarity, then making sound, logical decisions. The time is now to begin properly managing your emotions so that you can win in life. Practice makes perfect!
Until next time my friends!
Angela E. Spears
Dream Quote of the Day
You can’t expect to prevent negative feelings altogether. And you can’t expect to feel positive feelings all the time. The Law of Emotional Choice directs us to acknowledge our feelings but also to refuse to get stuck in the negative ones.