Every event generates an emotion. We act based on how we feel and, at the same time, the actions we take make us feel in a certain way. Emotions play a fundamental role in our behavior and in our life, therefore, in this article by Psychology-Online, we are going to explain what it means to handle an emotion, how important emotions are and how Learn the managing emotions through strategies, techniques and practical examples.
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- Understand the influence of emotions in our life
- Accept that we have emotions
- Identify the emotion in the body
- Learn relaxation techniques
- Apply thought stop
- Train yourself in self-instructions
- Restructure beliefs
Understand the influence of emotions in our life.
As we have just seen, emotions determine our behavior. We will act in one way or another depending on how we feel and this can help us or complicate things a lot. When the emotion is "positive", our behavior tends to "normal", it can even help us to act correctly in difficult situations. However, when the emotion is "negative" or unpleasant (fear, anger, shame…), it can play tricks on us and cause us to behave in a maladaptive or incoherent way.
For example: imagine that you have to present a work in front of all your colleagues. You have been preparing it for weeks and you are happy with the result. The day of the presentation arrives and you have the third shift. When the second exhibition ends, you begin to think that you are not going to remember everything and you feel afraid. That fear makes you make mistakes during the exhibition and you start to feel nervous. Due to the thoughts and emotions you feel, you are shaking, your mouth is dry, and your posture is stiff. As a result of the thoughts and emotions you have experienced, the exposure has been difficult, it has not been smooth and you feel disappointed and a bit embarrassed.
As we see in this example, emotions, especially those considered negative, modify our habitual behavior and can harm us in different areas of our life. Therefore, it is important to know how to handle emotions and thus avoid negatively interfering with our behavior, making us act in a maladaptive way or generating negative secondary emotions. There are different emotional strategies that we will see below.
Accept that we have emotions.
Before delving into the techniques for managing emotions, it is convenient to know that emotions are temporary states that we experience. They are normal and natural states that are considered adaptive and beneficial, since they offer us information that helps us understand situations and adapt to them.
Remember that Suppressing emotions or trying to ignore them does not work well in the long run because they reappear with more force.
Example: you are alone at home and you feel a noise, it is possible that you feel a little fear that it is the one that makes you question the origin of the sound and go check it. It is normal to feel that emotion and it is adaptive, since without fear, we would walk through ravines or on highways, compromising our safety and our lives.
However, it is true that emotions are sometimes very intense and can collapse us. Therefore, it is important to regulate them.
Example: Feeling a certain fear on the plane is adaptive, because it is what motivates you to follow the safety instructions. However, being scared enough to avoid getting on a plane can make it difficult for you to travel for work. Similarly, feeling anger can help you act in the face of injustice, while uncontrolled anger can cause damage to yourself or others. Next, we will see how to learn to control emotions and feelings.
Identify the emotion in the body.
The first step in learning to control emotions is knowing identify and understand our emotions. To learn how to handle them, it is necessary to attend to them, feel them and check what they contribute to us and how we feel. Next, we will see how to manage emotions step by step:
Choose one of the emotions that you want to control or manage.
- Resort to thoughts That they provoke you that emotion until the emotion invades you.
- Listen to your body: focus on everything that happens in you, what changes you notice in your body, in your mind, what behavior or behavior it leads to, what do you want to do when you feel like this.
- Remember situations where you have acted in a way that you do not like because of that emotion. Accept it and you will have taken the first step to change it. Think about how you react by letting yourself be carried away by negative emotions and then think how you want to act.
- You already know the emotion, how it acts in you and you are taking away its power. From now on when you feel that emotion, you will remember what you have learned and you will choose consciously or unconsciously do not get carried away by her.
Learn relaxation techniques.
When an unwanted emotion appears, our body is activated. Learn muscle relaxation and practicing it for a while until we learn to relax in a matter of minutes will allow us reduce that physiological activation generated by emotion. Once the "alarm state" is deactivated, we can think clearly and avoid unwanted behaviors caused by our activation state.
Example: you go with your child to buy theater tickets and the line at the box office seems endless. You see how several people sneak in and that makes you angry. You notice your pulse racing and your first reaction is to go yell at the people who have sneaked in, but you know it's not appropriate behavior and less with your child in front of you, so you focus on relaxing and you get it in a few minutes. Once you are calm, you can approach the group and resolve the situation calmly.
Apply the thought stop.
With emotions, as with recurring thoughts, we can use the thinking stop technique. In this psychological technique we do not try to ignore what is happening, but consciously, when a "negative" thought or emotion appears, we stop it. We can use the word: stop, stop, stop or any other of your choice. When the emotion appears, we will say the word and choose to relativize that emotion and not let it invade us.
Example: you have to leave for the airport to catch a plane and you can't find your boarding passes. You look in the places where you could have put them, but they don't appear anywhere. Frustration invades you and you keep thinking that you are going to be late and you are going to miss your flight. All those thoughts do not let you think clearly and you use the thinking stop technique. High! The thoughts that cause your nerves are there, you notice them and you have stopped them, so they begin to lose power and your mind clears. Now you can think calmly and finally remember that you carried your boarding passes in your suitcase so you don't forget them.
Train yourself in self-instructions.
The self-instruction They are one of the psychological strategies that can help us in moments in which a negative emotion assails us, but for this we must prepare and practice them. Self-instructions must be affirmatively formulated, credible, short, and in language like the one we normally use for this emotional management strategy to be effective.
- Incorrect: you will not be able to with me, this will not affect me, I will not get carried away ...
- Correct: I will be able to with you, I am calm, I feel strong, I have control ...
ExampleLet's go back to the public speaking example. We feel nervous and afraid. So, we remember the affirmations that we prepared and we say to ourselves: I feel safe, I have control of my body and my mind, I can do it, everything is fine, I am prepared ... These positive messages provide us with security and help the physiological deactivation caused by fear and anxiety.
Another strategy for managing emotions that gives very good results, and above all long-lasting, is the Rational Emotive Therapy by Albert Ellis. It is based on the fact that an action or event (A) activates our thoughts or beliefs (B) that give rise to our emotions or behaviors (C). Therefore, by changing our thoughts or beliefs for more rational or real ones, we manage to modify our emotions or behaviors.
An example of emotional management through the change of thoughts is the following:
Before an event (A), my friend has lied to me, there may be these two options:
- Irrational thinking (B): no one has to lie to me, lying is wrong and the one who lies is a bad person, I do not deserve this and my friend should be punished. This thought leads to the emotion or behavior (C): I am angry, I feel anger, rage.
- Rational thinking (B): people make mistakes, judging someone for a specific fact is not the right thing to do. This way of thinking carries the emotion or behavior (C): I feel upset, but I know it will pass and I understand that sometimes things happen that we don't like and that nobody is perfect.
With the help of a professional, you will learn how toidentify your wrong beliefs and cognitive errors more frequent and you will automate this emotional and cognitive strategy.
This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.
If you want to read more articles similar to Managing emotions: strategies, techniques and examples, we recommend that you enter our category of Emotions.
- Barragan, A. (2016) How to control any emotion step by step. Amazon
- Ellis, A. (2007). Control her anger before she controls you. Barcelona: Paidós.
- Roca, E. (2003). How to improve your social skills. Valencia: ACDE Editions.