You know those moments when you react mindlessly to a situation and you are left feeling dis-empowered, frustrated at yourself, let down, guilty and wishing you had thought it over a bit more before you just exploded?
You know those moments when you know you should not eat something, but the craving is so strong that you give in (to the whole cake, for example) and you are left feeling disappointed, guilty (again), and weak?
Or, what about those moments when your inner self or higher intelligence says be patient, wait, see this situation out and allow things to organically happen and in the heat of your emotion you act quickly, impatiently or irrationally?
All these examples represent the split second in time when your emotion overrides intelligence your self control, basically revealing a lack of emotional management. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have the space to pause, self reflect and respond to situations with more awareness and control and be able to choose the emotion you want to achieve in the moment? Wouldn’t that put you in the driver seat and allow you to achieve more and feel more trust and confidence in yourself. Well here are my key emotional management tools to enable you to manage yourself in any situation and deal with challenges, adversity, trauma or change effectively.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT?
Emotional management is the art of regulating your emotions when you are faced with challenge or stimulation. It means your mind is kept still and balanced even though you are being challenged. It means your nervous system is not activated, putting you into a fight or flight mode and releasing unnecessary stress hormones. Not having emotional
management means you allow your emotions to control you, without any awareness of who you need to be, how you need to be and what you can do to effectively manage a situation. Poor emotional management means you are on auto pilot, which means you are lacking self awareness, feel out of control, react to situations easily, are unaware of resourceful behaviors and allow stress to control you.
By having the ability to effectively manage your emotions you will empower yourself to feel more present in situations, be more calm, be more level headed and be proud of your behavior, which ultimately leads to a greater sense of confidence. You will also be able to maintain healthy hormone levels, which means keeping the body in a state of balance and wellbeing.
So here are my 12 Key Emotional Management tools to keep you calm, balanced and focused.
Mindfulness is the art of staying in the present moment and acting as the observer rather than the reactor. This gives you the ability to detach from any intensity in the moment and stand back and observe the situation as well as your reactions to the situations.
You can practice mindfulness by calibrating (noticing) moment to moment changes in your body and becoming aware of your thoughts. The act of observing your thoughts is very powerful as you do not need to attach to the thoughts but simply notice what thoughts a situation is creating in you.
2. Breath Control
Mindfulness works in collaboration with managing your breath. This means you must first be aware of your breath and be able to manage your breath by breathing deeply and fully. You can do this easily by simply becoming present with your inhale and exhale breath and notice the feelings of your breath rising and sinking along your body. You can begin to control your breathing by focusing on slowly down your breath and taking slow inhale breaths through your nose (about 6 counts) and slow exhale breaths out your mouth (6 counts). If you have lower or greater lung capacity you can lengthen or shorten that timing.
Visualization programs the subconscious mind which thinks in pictures and ultimately controls our behavior. When you have a stressful thought, a picture is created in your mind which then programs the nervous system to respond- putting you into flight, fight or freeze mode. Therefore if in the moment of a challenging situation you can visualize a calming image or an image which represents the emotion you want to achieve then your subconscious mind will be programmed to respond accordingly.
I use the image of bamboo when I am in a challenging situation. Bamboo is strong, agile and will not break despite its external environment. This visual image allows me to imagine myself as if I am the bamboo and feel that strength and resilience within me. Connecting with my inner strength then allows me to remain calm, focused and present.
Once you have engaged in mindfulness and managing your breath you can begin to
become aware of what you are feeling. This involves becoming present with what you are feeling in your body and where you are feeling it.
The next step is to begin to question the emotion by asking yourself these 3 questions:
What am I feeling? (Meditate on that emotion and let the first word that comes into your head guide you)For example: I will begin to notice a tightness in my belly and when I ask myself what I am feeling the first word that comes into my mind is Anger…
Now ask yourself…
Why am I feeling that? (Why am I feeling angry?)
Again once you reflect on that question, your self-talk will begin to speak… For example… I am feeling angry because I am hurt and feel misunderstood, I feel unsupported and unloved?
Now ask yourself…
So what can I do about these feelings? (This question is key because It immediately forces you to take personal responsibility for your emotion rather than simply blaming someone else. So this would sound like…
Ok, can I express myself better, can I have a conversation with this person and express how I am feeling, can I speak with someone who makes me feel supported and can I be around people who really acknowledge me or make me feel good about myself? Can I remind myself how much I am loved, how good I am, what makes me feel good about myself and can I give myself some nourishment and self love?
Whatever the choice in that moment you are taking action and enabling yourself to break the current emotional state you are in.
5. Detachment from emotion
This involves the art of letting go and forgiving, which may actually mean forgiving yourself in that moment. Again the best way to do this is to take yourself somewhere calming and engage in a few deep breaths which focus on letting go. As you inhale focus on the word let and as you exhale focus on the word go. As you inhale focus on a light and positive energy entering your body and as you exhale focus on softening your body and letting go of any tension the body is holding onto. Imagine the body melting or any tightness dissolving. Begin at the top of your head and slowly soften your whole body releasing the tension. Instantly you will be clearing your cells of emotion and will bring the body back to balance.
What ultimately brings us stress is the meaning we attach to a situation- the context or
perspective we are choosing to see in a given moment. Challenge yourself by taking a step back and beginning to view a situation from different angles. For example, instead of taking a comment personally, step back and ask yourself what else could be going on right now, what is coming up for this person? What is motivating them to make that comment? Is their comment a projection of their own inner fear? What if I have compassion towards that? All those questions help you see a new perspective which means finding a new meaning. This new meaning instantly changes your perception of reality and changes your internal feelings.
Reframing is the art of finding new meaning to a situation which is more positive and meaningful and allows you to feel more empowered. Examples of positive reframes include:
Negative: I have always failed
Positive reframe: The past has been my teacher and has been preparing me for no, I have not failed in the past I have learnt great lessons and now I am ready.
Negative: Other people are better than me, the are stronger, prettier, happier, more successful…they are better than me.
Positive reframe: Every quality I have is perfect for who I need to be and I accept and honour all my traits and make the best with what I have been given.
8. The Art of Self Questioning
Coaching is all about asking great questions because questions activate thinking patterns. Begin to notice what questions or language you are focusing on- is it positive or negative? Once you begin to ask yourself better questions who will begin to notice better results in yourself and in your life.
9. Surround yourself with positive people positive energy
We often absorb negative energy around us, which then feels like our own energy. You can protect and energize yourself by eliminating the energy wasters and vampires in your life. If it is impossible to stop seeing these people (which is most often the case) you can begin to stop certain conversations you normally have with these people which you find draining. That is in your control.
Begin to surround yourself with people that make you feel good, people who understand and appreciate you. Surround yourself with people who you can have positive uplifting conversations with.
10. Eliminate Toxins
Stimulants like caffeine, sugar, alcohol and processed foods stimulate your nervous system and put the body into a stress or fight/flight mode. This means the body is producing Adrenalin and Cortisol which will make you feel emotional.
A really good guide to getting to know this is to watch what foods make you feel tired or heavy afterwards. This reveals that your system is triggered, so stick with light and energizing foods.
11. Honour your nervous system (listen to your body)
When you begin to notice signs by feeling tired or stressed in your body begin to listen and give yourself time to rest, recharge or reconnect. It is essential that you know what calms or reenergizes you. Some great ideas include: Warm shower, bubble bath, walk in nature, time with good friends, a pamper day or some horizontal time on the couch with your favourite series. This is not being lazy, undisciplined or defaced…this is you recharging your batteries which is essential to any management system.
Signs of stress or fatigue to look for include excessive thinking, shortness in breath, lack of energy, lack of focus, feeling overwhelmed or emotional, unable to concentrate, inability to sleep or sit still.
12. Sleep well and Move your body
Emotion can be defined as energy in motion. Therefore emotion that are going through your body is simply energy that the mind labels as a certain emotion. If this energy is not expressed or released through conversations or movement t it will build up in your system and make you feel anxious , nervous or restless. It is vital to exercise and move the body to rid emotion out of the body and balance Cortisol levels in the body.
Sleep is also essential because to manage ourselves takes energy and focus and if we are tired then we simply fall in a heap and cannot manage the mind.
Ensure at least 4 times per week you are getting a solid 7-8 hours sleep and if your body is saying more, then LISTEN!
I trust these 12 Emotional Management Tools will help you feel more in control and empowered over your emotions and enable you to respond effectively to any situation you are placed in!