Managing your emotions isn’t the same as suppressing them. In fact, suppressing your emotions and the pain you might feel will only make emotional wounds worse over time. To gain control over your emotions, it’s important to acknowledge the presence of those emotions while recognizing that your emotions don’t have to control you. Once you’ve done this, try these three healthy ways to regulate your emotions.
Label your emotions
Before you can change how you feel, label the emotion you’re experiencing right now. Are you nervous? Do you feel disappointed? Are you sad? Keep in mind that anger sometimes masks emotions that feel vulnerable — like shame or embarrassment. So pay close attention to what’s really going on inside of you. Labeling how you feel can take a lot of the sting out of the emotion. It can also help you take careful note of how those feelings are likely to affect your decisions.
Reframe your thoughts
Your emotions affect the way you perceive events. If you’re feeling anxious, and you get an email from the boss that says she wants to see you right away, you might assume you’re going to get fired. If you were feeling happy when you got that same email, your first thought might have been that you’re going to be promoted or congratulated on a job well done. Consider the emotional filter you’re looking at the world through. Then, reframe your thoughts to develop a more realistic view.
Engage in a mood booster
When you’re in a bad mood, you’re likely to engage in activities that keep you in that state of mind, such as isolating yourself or complaining to people around you. Instead, think of the things you do when you feel happy. Do those things when you’re in a bad mood, and you’ll start to feel better. For instance, call a friend or listen to uplifting music. If you engage in a mood booster, you’ll see for yourself that it’s possible to regulate your emotions.