““Feel like you have no control over your reactions and emotions? You CAN mindfully walk through your feelings in a productive way.”.”
Dianne M. Daniels
CEO & Founder
There isn't very much that we human beings have direct control over in our lives. Sometimes it's that realization that causes us the most trouble.
We have no control over other people (though we can fool ourselves that we do), the weather, or the traffic that causes us stress every weekday morning. What we do have control over, though it may seem difficult, is our reactions to those "uncontrollable" aspects of our lives.
While you're working to create and manifest your DivaStyle Life - the one you dream of and deserve - you must also work on improving your ability to mindfully walk through your reactions and emotions in a productive instead of a destructive way.
If you believe you have no emotional control, you won't have any - you've heard me talk about that part of your brain that doesn't know the difference between the truth and a lie before...I call it the Nebbish. When you act as if you cannot regulate your emotions and respond to emotional situations in a way that helps you rather than hurts you, that subconscious part of your mind, the Nebbish, creates a "groove" in your brain that takes the repeated behavior as fact.
Your lack of control becomes truth - and it can be harder to overcome that kind of behavior, but - when you make the decision to develop the skill to regulate your emotions and practice it on a regular basis, you'll develop more strength, and your ability to Thrive through Challenges will increase as well.
Why It's Important to Strengthen Emotional Regulation
Feel Your Emotions Without Letting
Them Control Your Behavior
Having the ability to regulate your emotions - to control and / or direct them - means that you are able to respond to all levels of emotional situations in a way that builds you up instead of tearing you down. We've all seen people who are, temporarily or regularly, not in control of their emotions. They may be our co-workers, friends, family members, or just random people we see on the street as we move through out days. Social media is full of videos of people who are not controlling their emotions, but letting their emotions control them and their behavior.
Allowing your emotions to control your behavior is a certain road to insecure relationships and shame, because losing control often doesn't address the core emotions - the real reasons for the behavior. Developing stronger emotional regulation "muscles" will help you to identify the emotions and temper your reactions so that you act in a more reasonable way. It'll help you address what is causing your upset or suffering without dousing you (and others around you) in negativity. You can and should feel the emotions, because repressing them isn't healthy, but maintaining control of your behavior is an essential part of living a DivaStyle Life.
Re-frame the Situation to Help
Strengthen Your Ability
to Regulate Your Emotions
A great way to begin strengthening your ability to regulate your emotions is to try changing your perspective on a challenging situation from a negative (or fearful) one to a positive one.
It's really easy to assume that in a difficult situation, the worst is going to happen - especially if that's been a pattern in the past. While working to create and maintain your Dynamic, Intriguing, Vivacious and Authentic life, you still have to face the facts that sometimes things don't work out as we plan.
We tell ourselves stories about the results of the email we just sent expressing our feelings...what will happen when <insert addressee's name here> sees what we wrote? What will that do to our relationship?
What about stepping outside of our comfort zone and wearing that unusual color or that new outfit that's in a totally different style than your usual? What about the odd looks you'll get by making such a drastic (or just reasonable) change?
What will happen when we try to guess / figure out / control what the future holds for us, and realize that some of what's going to happen is absolutely out of our control? Forgetting about what we can control, our minds can spin off in many different directions and imagine negative results that might not even occur...but we can't always see that in the moment.
LET THIS HABIT GO!
We can't mind-read - at least most of us can't - and continuing this habit creates unnecessary stress and suffering and only adds to the negative emotions we feel rather than the good ones. By attempting to tell the future, we're adding to our sense of frustration and it becomes even harder to handle the situation. Try adding a little objectivity:
Imagine you're having dinner with a group of friends or your family. You notice that someone gives you a look that seems frustrated or annoyed. What normally happens? Your mind starts racing to possible things you could have done wrong, or said, and you replay everything that happened up to that moment, trying to figure out what you did wrong.
Take a step back...don't assume they are mad at YOU! They might be having an off night, or something completely unrelated to you. Cut off those heightened negative emotions and the onset of a poor attitude that usually comes with them, take a step back, and re-frame your perspective. This will allow you to lessen your anxiety and turn down the heat on your emotions before they get the better of you. You don't have to push the emotions down and pretend they don't exist - re-framing allows you to dissipate them in a way that doesn't cause you stress or harm.
Allow, But Don't Be Controlled By
Truth: all emotions are valid. If you tell yourself there are emotions you're not allowed to feel, they're not just going to go away or burn off like early morning fog. They'll work their way into the ways you speak to yourself, about yourself, how you behave, and how you thrive through challenges in the future.
Practicing accepting your emotions makes it easier to feel them and then to deal with them. Now that doesn't mean you have to be happy about what you're feeling, or that you have to be at peace with them, it simply means you're acknowledging the truth of what you feel. Don't push the emotions down, label them instead. Instead of pushing down your anger, say to yourself "Right now I am feeling anger," and you'll notice that you now have some separation between you and the emotion - it's no longer controlling you.
Skill Building & Practice
It isn't always easy to acknowledge your emotions without reacting to them. To build your skill in noticing and acknowledging, practice mindfulness skills that encourage non-judgmental awareness and help you sit with and analyze your feelings instead of simply reacting to them.
Try practicing these mindfulness skills for emotional regulation:
Observe Your Breathing
Set a timer for three minutes and simply become aware of your breathing. You don't need to breathe in a certain way or force yourself to think of anything in particular. If you can spend time simply noticing your breath, you'll begin to feel calm. When your mind wanders, just go back to noticing your breath.
Spend 10 Minutes Coloring
Whether or not you consider yourself creative, coloring in a coloring book is a great way to focus in on one thing instead of getting swallowed up in emotions.
Play an Instrument
Whether you want to learn an instrument, or you already play one (air guitar, anyone?), sitting down to create music is a great way to practice mindfulness. It's also helpful to write songs that can help you process your emotions in creative ways.
Get Outside with Intention
Walk outside with the intention to simply notice. Observe your surroundings and name the things you see, hear, or smell.
Use Visualization to Handle Your Emotions
Visualize your emotions floating by like clouds, or like leaves drifting along on a slow stream. Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful place that is serene and comforting. Next, imagine an animal or object gently passing by. Place one of your emotions on each of those things and watch that emotion peacefully float onward, losing it's hold on you as the distance between you increases.
Mindfulness helps to tether us in the present moment - building resilience and enhancing our quality of life. Try one or more of these skills on a daily basis to help strengthen your brain function and giving you an arsenal of coping skills for the future.
Increase Positive Emotions
It's important to prioritize positive experiences - whether you're in a time of distress or a time of peacefulness, whether you're lost in the hustle and bustle of life, or just plain busy, it's important to do things that help you have a good time and set yourself up for success in the future.
Tapping into positive memories helps you hang on to hope when time are challenging and you feel like things are falling apart around you. Give yourself permission to have a nice time - do things that you enjoy, like watching your favorite stand-up comedian, going on a hike or walk, or enjoying a craft or cooking class. If nothing comes to mind, start by going on a walk or taking a shower, and be mindful while doing so. Imagine walking away from, or washing away the challenging emotions, and practice gratitude for the good things in your life.
Try making a gratitude list every day and see how it benefits your attitude. You don't have to have grand, life-changing things to be grateful for - if you like the pen you're writing with, or the keyboard you're typing on, be grateful for that. If you're having a challenging day and can't think of anything to be grateful for, be grateful for the oxygen you're breathing, the air conditioning in your office, or your pet or your favorite meal.
You can change your outlook at any moment by balancing the challenging thoughts with positive ones - replace "I'll never understand this" with "I'm excited to keep learning." Shifting your perspective helps you tolerate and overcome emotional distress.
Knowing how to regulate and deal with your emotions is a powerful tool for Thriving Through Challenge - you'll be better able to sit with your emotions and then move on from them without acting on impulse and experiencing regret later.
Remember - you CAN control your emotions!
Part of Thriving through Challenges is acknowledging what you need to learn and build capacity around - handling your emotions will be easier when you put the information in this post to work in your life.
While you're building the power to control your reactions to challenging situations, you also have (and can build) power to control the next action you take. Check out the next entry in this extended content series to get more information on Taking Responsibility for Thriving through Challenges when it’s published in a couple of days - use the form below this post to make sure you’re part of the DivaStyle Academy family.