“Anyone can become angry —that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way —this is not easy.”
Think about a pleasurable time and rely on your five senses to enjoy the moment in your mind. What are you seeing, feeling, smelling, touching and hearing? Dig deep into your sensations to locate how this moment brings you happiness. Tap into the emotions you are feeling as you experience even greater pleasure and become aware of the physical sensations enveloping you.
This is one of the first steps in mastering your unwanted emotions, the negative feelings that sometimes overcome you, consume you, cloud your judgment, and even cause regretful actions and responses.
Here’s an example. You are angry with a co-worker who pushes your buttons repeatedly. Your anger interferes with your logical reasoning and before you realize what is happening, you are yelling at the co-worker, calling him names and losing control of all rational thinking. Afterwards, you say to yourself, “why am I allowing this guy to make me lose my cool? Next time, I’ve got to suppress my anger and not allow it to take over.”
What is wrong with this scenario? First, you should not be suppressing your anger, and most importantly, you should not be trying to get over your anger. This is why we end up repeating the same actions with the same results.
Your goal is to regulate your emotions, not push them back inside you where they will resurface again and worsen. Drop the narrative, locate the source of your anger inside your body, focus on your physical feelings, be in the moment, and then respond.
If you allow yourself the time to focus on your body’s reaction to your anger and stay in that moment (dropping the narrative) for 60 to 90 seconds, there’s a good chance your response will not be shouting or acting irrationally. You have given yourself time for clarity, time to drop the narrative, time to feel how your body is reacting to your anger, and time to process your actions.
Be with your emotions, do not try to bury them, do not try to get over them. Instead, learn to manage them, tolerate them and respond appropriately to them. In the heat of the emotional moment, we don’t recognize our physical response to the emotion because we are allowing the narrative to overcome all sense of logic.
When you are hungry, you grab a snack and you’ve satisfied your hunger. Problem solved. Emotions respond in a similar way. When the boundaries are crossed, we need to explore our anger, however, we often make the wrong choice by dealing with these challenging feelings ineffectively. We may respond to our anger by shouting or using violence instead of digging deep inside our body, finding the source of our anger, and then learning to be with our emotions at that same exact time.
Give yourself time for the emotions to subside and take productive action. Now you have mastered your emotions.
It sounds like a simple process because it is a simple process, but it is not so simple to master.
I practice emotional mastery techniques with my clients so they will be less driven by negative emotions and more driven with the reality of the situation. They could be feeling anger fear, stress, anxiety, frustration, resentment, overload or helpless ness or perceive self-doubt … any number of perceptions or emotions at any time, and often unexpectedly. They learn how to use their emotions to their advantage rather than allowing their emotions to control them. I help them be present in the moment of their heated emotions, focus on those raw emotions, experience a deep awareness of them and find peace and clarity through them.
Do not deny, obey or try to shut down your emotions. Become aware of them, get in touch with these raw emotions, understand they are part of who you are and don’t feel guilty for having them. Accept them. Pushing them away only creates more emotional distress. The longer you suppress emotions, the more you internalize them, and it can cause severe mental and physical health issues.
Mastering your emotions will allow you to face difficult situations with a level head and a positive attitude, producing a satisfying response for all involved and improved professional or personal relationships. Your attitude and your life only will get better!
Practice mastering your emotions daily. You will find you are able to handle conflicts more successfully, for example, because you have full emotional awareness. You will begin to develop a deeper understanding of your emotions so your actionable response will be productive. That bothersome co-worker won’t generate anger in you the same way he has in the past.
As your confidence increases, you may even rehearse certain scenarios that previously caused you distress, anger, frustration or anxiety. You will find the emotions they generated have changed, and even subsided, because you know how to manage them positively.
Always remember to focus on the moment and the raw emotions it is generating, NOT the narrative. You are in charge of your emotions.
Also remember to celebrate your success as an emotion master! But keep practicing! Clarity of thought bolsters peace, contentment and happiness. You will thrive and so will your mental and physical health! Sound mental health is a process of constant adaption; the ability to recognize and adjust your mindset and behavior to the various situations you confront.
Emotional mastery brings so many benefits:
- It allows you to maintain peace and balance in your life.
- It helps you make better decisions because the decisions you make are not driven by emotions.
- You will be more productive, you will strengthen your relationships with others, and you will improve your mental and physical health as well as your outlook on life.
Life is full of conflicts, challenges and adversity. Learning emotional mastery will help you live your life much more positively.
“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic. If words control you, that means everyone can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.”
– Bruce Lee
Charon Normand-Widmer is a licensed master social worker with The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health. She specializes in somatic psychotherapy, an approach to treatment that helps clients become more aware of where emotions sit in the body and how these sensations affect mental and physical health. Charon will work with clients to help them understand their emotions so they can get to a better place in their life mentally and physically. To schedule an appointment with Charon, call The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health at 248.399.7447 or visit the center’s website at crsh.com, click “our therapists,” and make an appointment.