Getting emotions under control takes practice, but it’s a skill we can all work to develop. In order to function as an adult in society, we need to have both emotional intelligence and emotional control.
So, what exactly is emotional control? How do we strengthen it, and why should we bother?
The term emotional control is pretty self-explanatory; it refers to the skill that can be practiced, strengthened, and developed over time to help you keep yourself from making decisions you might later regret in the heat of your emotions.
Having a strong sense of emotional control requires emotional intelligence, strength, perseverance, and self-awareness.
Emotional intelligence refers to our awareness of the emotions we’re experiencing, the signs that indicate how we’re feeling, and how to handle them appropriately and healthfully.
Our emotional intelligence helps us to identify emotions and help us determine an appropriate response when we need to control our own emotions.
To exhibit emotional control, we need both emotional and physical strength. We have to be able to have the emotional strength to calmly analyze the situation and what we’re feeling so we can determine the most appropriate reaction. We also need the strength to admit we’re wrong, if that’s what the situation calls for.
It’s often hard to confront those who have upset us, especially when they aren’t receptive to what we’re saying; it requires perseverance to ensure we handle the situation in a healthy manner, keeping emotions under control and in check.
Self-awareness is a crucial part to emotional control; the two most important parts are emotional intelligence and self-awareness, though the other two play key roles as well.
It requires self-awareness to identify there’s a problem to begin with, identify the emotion, and resolve problems.
How to strengthen emotional control
There are a number of ways in which we can strengthen our ability to control emotions; it’s mostly done with practice and training, like any skill.
The first way we can work to strengthen them is by making a diligent and noble effort to recognize our own emotions and feelings. If we don’t know our triggers or our warning signs for certain emotions, we won’t be able to control them.
We can regularly practice by taking a minute to slow down and analyze our emotions when we start to notice ourselves getting worked up in anyway.
It’s important to pay attention to how long it takes emotions to escalate, what triggered them specifically, and what seems to help to calm them down. Another good way to practice strengthening emotional control is clearly expressing feelings to those around us, when necessary.
Making it a regular practice to clearly and calmly explain what we’re feeling and why, won’t hurt anyone else, but may help to resolve issues in a healthy way. It also helps to prevent bottling up negative emotions that result in worry and anxiety.
Emotional control is an important part of being a well-functioning adult in society. If we’re unsure about our own emotional self-control, there are a few questions we can ask ourselves. But to determine the true answer, we first have to be honest. If we deceive ourselves then any attempt to move forwards becomes pointless. For example:
- Do you often find yourself not expressing your emotions properly so that you frequently feel overwhelmed?
- Are your friends telling you to calm down, or do they curb their behavior to preserve your feelings?
- And do you tend to overreact to situations?
Answer ‘yes’ to any one of these questions and there’s an indication that we need to work on some aspects of emotional control.
Do I have emotional control?
The first question we should ask ourselves is whether or not we express our emotions properly. If we bottle up emotions, rather than expressing them, it’s easy to boil over.
Another way to identify if this is your problem is to see if there’s a tendency to feel overwhelmed by emotions. This is a condition we call emotional overload.
Do friends frequently tell us to calm down?
It’s rare that, when self-reflection is the task at hand, we are asked to look at those around us, but the way our friends react could be a helpful signifier. If friends act like they’re always walking on eggshells, or babysitting our feelings, there might be a case for considering whether we’re in emotional overload, where any tiny thing pushes us over the edge.
As previously mentioned, we need to openly express our emotions in a healthy way as we experience them, so we can resolve any potential problem in an appropriate and healthy manner. And we should afford our friends the same courtesy.
How others treat us is an important signifier of our own behavior.
Do I have a tendency to overreact to situations?
If our go-to response is often an overreaction, it’s a sign we’re existing in a state of emotional overload. Being in emotional overload puts us in a position of every emotion being all or nothing.
Imagine your emotions are a cup of water; the cup is already almost overflowing and every time something goes wrong, adding more water to the already full cup, it overflows a little.
How this looks in reality is that we have big, blown out responses to normal situation and then it dissipates as quickly as it came. People become wary of contradicting us and this can be wrongly viewed as though they are agreeing with our reaction. In fact they may simply pulling back from making the situation more inflamed.
So yes, emotional control is an important part of being a functional adult. We have to have some level of emotional control to succeed in our careers, our friendships, and with our relationships.
There are a number of ways to determine whether we are in control of our emotions, but the most accurate is honest personal reflection. We must be prepared to ask yourselves the questions listed previously and be honest about the answers.
It’s not always easy being totally objective when attempting to observe ourselves. It can feel hurtful, but by denying what everyone else sees, means we’re hurting no one more than ourselves.