In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the 5 steps to controlling your emotions.
First a quick update:
“Are you emotionally intelligent?”
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand one’s own feelings, express empathy for the feelings of others and “the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living.” Take the test now!
“What is Anger & Rage?”
Is anger always negative? What is anger and what is the difference between anger and rage? When is anger a positive emotion? Watch the video:
Now, let’s talk about the 5 steps to controlling your emotions.
“Oh I get so emotional baby
Every time I think of you
I get so emotional baby
Ain’t it shocking what love can do”
“So Emotional” – Whitney Houston, 1987
Of course, we associate love with intense emotions. However, intense emotions come in many forms – anger, hatred, fear, revenge, and so forth.
One of my key teachings is that in spite of our inaccurate belief that we are rational creatures led by logic or rational thought, we are actually emotional creatures – we make decisions based on emotions.
For this very reason, the greatest teachers & philosophers throughout the ages have all taught the same thing – the critical need to control one’s emotions.
In fact, the early philosophers, believing so strongly that emotions are a controlling and potentially destructive force, would often refer to emotions as “passions” – from the Latin patior meaning “suffer.” Aristotle used the word pathē (passions), viewing emotions as “sufferings” – things we suffer in life.
Buddha taught that the passions and craving cause suffering; Confucius taught the importance of living virtuously and mastering the passions; Aristotle defended an ethics based on the virtues, in which the passions played an integral role; Plato & Socrates taught that reason must govern the passions, though Plato also wrote of the great importance of love (eros); the Stoic philosophers warned about anger and other passions as being erroneous judgments about one’s place in the world; Jesus’ teachings about loving one’s neighbor as thyself also extended to being able to control one’s emotional impulses and desires.
The point here is that when you analyze what they collectively were saying, the commonality is that emotions are strategies, something within our control, to a large extent, our “doing,” not just something that happens to us.
Emotions are not outside of us
If emotions were something that happens to us, none of the teachers or philosophers would be admonishing us to take control of those emotions since the premise would be that emotions are outside of us and therefore beyond our control.
Emotions are the way we interpret the world; they are judgments of the world around us. We constantly make evaluations and appraisals which result in an emotion. If we judge (believe via evaluation and appraisal – accurately or inaccurately) that someone has hurt or wronged us, we respond with anger; if we judge that we have lost something, we respond with sadness or grief; if we judge that our opportunities are gone, we respond with hopelessness, etc.
Thus, it is possible to control our emotions by first consciously testing or analyzing the judgments we made which initially evoked a specific emotion.
How to control your emotions
You cannot control an emotion until you are first aware of what the emotion is that you are currently experiencing. Is it anger, sadness, grief, disgust, disappointment or something else?
You brought about this emotion because of an interpretation you made – a judgment, an evaluation or appraisal of an event or action. What did you conclude, believe or interpret about this particular event or action? Remember, the ‘event or action’ could be an action you made or took.
3. Action Tendency – Intention
With only a few exceptions, every emotion has an action tendency: anger tends to create an action of violence; depression tends to create an action of withdrawal or isolation (slightly different actions for men and for women); fear tends to create an action of paralysis or harsh, rapid movements (literal and metaphorical); jealousy tends to create actions of control, revenge, desperation, punishment or anxiety-ridden responses.
What is the tendency of the emotion that you are currently experiencing? Thus, the question is also being posed, “What is the intention of your emotion or your emotional response?”
For example, if your emotion is anger, possibly your intention is to hurt the person that hurt you; if your emotion is jealousy, your intention might be to protect that which you believe is yours – to control and bind the person that you believe is yours and you are about to lose or; if you are experiencing jealousy and you believe you have already lost that which is yours, then your intention might be to regain power and control by seeking revenge over the person that you lost.
In every case, our ultimate intention is to ease the emotion, to ease the suffering and pain created by the emotion.
4. The Object of your emotions
If emotions have an intention and an action tendency, then they must also have an object i.e. the emotions are directed at someone or something – the object. For example, if you are angry, the action tendency is to be violent, aggressive or assertive; to whom? To the person you believed instigated the anger in you. Please note that often people are angry and cannot determine why they are angry i.e. what is the specific intention of their anger and who or what is the object of the anger? Usually, through proper therapy, the real root cause of the anger can be uncovered – the event and the object i.e. a woman might have regular outbursts of anger and yet the real intention and object of the anger is the desire to hurt the parent who was abusive to the woman in childhood. Thus, the object is actually the abusive parent of the past and not the present day person who might have triggered the anger.
5. Reevaluate – Putting it all together
Accordingly, to control one’s emotions, one must first become clear about what the emotion is, how it was triggered (the judgment made) and to whom it is directed. Next, one must reevaluate the initial judgment that led to the emotion. Note, the judgment is an interpretation, a perspective seen through our tainted glasses and filters: ‘He spoke down to me and therefore he insulted me; I am angry and must retaliate; I must pay him back or at least stand up for myself.’
Note in this example that the first interpretation is that the other person was being condescending; the second interpretation is that the other person was being insulting; the third interpretation is that anger must be addressed with action – insults and condescension must be retaliated; the fourth interpretation is that the an injustice has occurred and this must be corrected by hurting the other person (revenge); the fifth interpretation is that if it is not possible to hurt the other person, then at the very least, I the victim must not let others treat me this way.
As you are probably already aware, if this person responds to his emotion in the way he has suggested, it is highly likely that the situation might escalate, and, if it is in a job setting, it could result in other destructive or detrimental consequences – loss of job, humiliation, etc.
By reevaluating each of the above 5 interpretations, the person experiencing the emotions can easily neutralize the initial emotion or, determine the right response which will produce the best result.
“As Aristotle says, quite rightly, wisdom is getting angry at the right person in the right situation in the right way to the right degree, and it would be foolish, in some cases, not to get angry.”– Professor Robert C. Solomon.
Finally, remember that you have the ability to master your emotions and yet fully enjoy them as you engage in life.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.