In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal a simple technique to control your emotions so that they don’t control you.
First a quick update:
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Are You A Victim of The Three Thieves of Happiness?
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Now, let’s talk about the simple technique to control your emotions before they control you.
I was in the kitchen about to prepare a meal when suddenly I felt this sadness and urge to cry. It was shocking and unexpected.
How often have you experienced overwhelming emotions or an emotion that suddenly controls you?
It is natural to be experiencing strong emotions during Covid-19. In this article, I will share with you the technique I used to control the sadness I felt.
There are only 2 things you can control – your thoughts and your emotions. And your thoughts control your emotions, with one exception: anything that is unconsciously perceived as a threat is neurologically hardwired to automatically trigger the fight-or-flight response.
Is it really possible to control your emotions?
Yes, it is!
Controlling your emotions is not equivalent to preventing, denying or escaping an emotion.
Controlling your emotion means you direct the actions of that emotion; you limit the amount or growth of that emotion, and you determine the way you respond to the emotion. In other words, you control the emotion; the emotion does not control you. You direct the emotion; the emotion does not direct you.
How can you control your emotions?
Here are 3 steps.
1. Distance and observation
The key is to create distance between you and the emotion. You are not the emotion; you are experiencing the emotion. When you distance yourself from the emotion, you are lessening and weakening its power, control, and influence over you. Distancing yourself from the emotion is also a powerful tool I use in SRTT (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique.)
As soon as you feel the emotion, say aloud, “I notice I am feeling sad. That’s interesting.”
When you label the emotion, its power also weakens. When you say, “I notice…” you are separating yourself from the emotion. When you say, “That’s interesting”, you are stopping the emotion from growing, expanding or overpowering you; you are now the observer of the emotion.
I repeated those two sentences aloud a couple of times until I felt separate to and distant from the emotion.
“You are not the emotion; you are experiencing the emotion.”
If you are in a meeting or a setting where it is not practical or appropriate to speak aloud, then do this exercise by saying the sentences in your head.
2. Exploration – Thought
Next, you explore the origins and motivations of the emotion; what is the thought behind the emotion?
You start with, “I notice I am feeling sad. That’s interesting.” As soon as you feel the emotion lower in intensity, then you look for the thought: say aloud, “I wonder what is causing that sadness. Why am I feeling that sadness?”
When you refer to “that sadness” you are again further separating yourself from the emotion. It is not your sadness, it is “that” sadness.
As soon as I said those two sentences, (“I wonder what is causing that sadness. Why am I feeling that sadness?”), I saw a memory – an image of an experience, a positive and meaningful memory which has now ended and is gone due to the pandemic. I then responded with “That was fun. That was a really great time. I am grateful for that experience.”
Again, notice I used the word “that” to create distance to the memory so I could observe it and shift from pain and loss to gratitude and appreciation for a wonderful past experience. I also added a new perspective (changed the thought): I accepted that that memory was fun and positive and I accepted that it is over, and rather than focusing on the loss of those fun times, I focused on thankfulness, along with the belief that there will be more good times but in a different form or manner. You might need to say those words aloud to yourself as well: “I am grateful, and I will create more fun times and new adventures!”
If the emotion has deeper origins and motivations i.e. it might be a great loss, a recurring anxiety or fear, then follow steps 1 and 2, and then set aside time to write out the origins, thoughts and motivations of the emotion. In other words, in my example, had the sadness been due to a loss of something very meaningful, then I would have sat down to write about what I lost, what it meant to me, what I believe about it and myself, the ways it aligned with my values, and what new goals I can set that will give me meaning, purpose, and which will align with my values.
The third key to controlling your emotions is ensuring you get sufficient sleep.
When you are sleep deprived, your mood changes dramatically with a 60% increase in emotional reactivity in your amygdala (fear response) – you become prone to risk-taking, your fears heighten, you view others as dangerous, and you exhibit poor decision-making skills.
There are 2 forms of deep sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM.) Your body cycles between REM and NREM during sleep.
During REM, your brain works on blunting emotional responses to painful memories, and it is the only time during the 24-hour period when your brain is completely devoid of noradrenaline (norepinephrine) – an anxiety-triggering molecule.
During NREM, your brain prunes certain memories and activates your parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite of fight-or-flight – it is the ‘rest and digest process’ which also lowers respiration, blood pressure and heart rate, and undoes the neurophysiological impact of stress.
You need between 7 and 9 hours sleep every night. Without the proper sleep, your brain fails to blunt painful memories, fails to properly activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and you become less capable to deal with your emotions during the day. You can also do deep breathing exercises (slow, gentle deep breathing in and out) during the day to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
If you need help to deal with powerful emotions or to overcome fear, anxiety, trauma or the past, book a one-on-one session with me.
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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.