Want better control over your emotions?

Posted on January 15th, by Dr Rob Yeung .

Do you ever say things like ‘I’m so nervous’ or ‘It really annoys me when…’?

It’s natural to feel emotions like anxiousness or annoyance. Many people feel anxious before a big event – say giving an important presentation at work or going on a big date. Many people feel irritated when things go wrong – from delays on the daily commute to difficult colleagues or our computers going wrong.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t experience emotions.

But if you ever feel that you’d like to be more confident and in control of your emotions, you can.

A simple technique is to watch the language you use when you talk about your emotions – even if that ‘talk’ is just to yourself, in your internal dialogue.

Newer forms of psychotherapy suggest that we would be better off making a clearer distinction between our core ‘self’ and our emotions. Saying things like ‘I’m so nervous’ or ‘I’m really angry’ implies that you are your emotion (and nothing more). It’s like saying that you are nothing more than your nervousness or solely defined by your anger.

But clearly, that’s not the case. You may be many things, but your nervousness or anger is only one part of you – and a temporary one at that.

So it’s a better idea to say ‘I am experiencing a feeling of nervousness’ or ‘This is a feeling of anger’.

Using phrases like ‘I am experiencing a feeling of…’ or ‘This is a feeling of…’ reminds us that they are only emotions. It helps us to remember that emotions are only temporary feelings and not permanent descriptions of how things will be forever.

Similarly, avoid saying ‘It annoys me when she says that’ or ‘It irritates me when he talks so loudly’. That kind of language is similarly disempowering.

Better to say ‘I allow myself to feel annoyed when she says that’ or ‘I allow myself to feel irritated when he talks so loudly’. That way, you remind yourself that you can choose how to feel. Just because someone else may be behaving in a certain way doesn’t mean that you have to let it affect you.

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond.

It’s a point that I made in my Confidence book as well as the Centredness chapter of E is for Exceptional. Let me know how you get on.


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