Updated: Oct 23, 2021
“Control the situation, don’t let the situation control you”
Interpretation: You have a choice in how you react. Are you going to let the current situation dictate how you act, or are you going to act in a manner that does not create problems.
Emotional control is something I have spent and continue to spend a lot of time learning about. It's not something we get taught how to do in school. Typically its a live and learn kind of thing and unfortunately many of us never quite figure it out. For anyone looking to learn how to be better in this ever so crucial skill I would recommend a couple of books. Peaceful Parenting by Laura Markham and Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson. Both of these books help to understand why we feel how we during emotionally intense moments, why someone else may be acting how they are acting, and ultimatly put all of the control in your hands. I have gathered some of my favorite information and listed it out below. Hopefully you can find some of it beneficial. I'd love to hear of some things that have worked for others as well. You never know when you're going to hear something profound that reshapes how you approach life.
Why we get mad: The primal instinct
Anger / fear is a protective instinct. We’ve all heard of the flight or fight response. It can be very useful for survival but it can be very detrimental to personal relationships when we do not control it.
How to control it: The million dollar question
This is one of the hardest things in the world to accomplish. Anger is so
ingrained in our evolution, that few can truly control it at all times. I win and lose battles with anger all the time and what I’ve learned is that once I’ve owned up to it, my ability to respond more positively next time is easier.
From what I’ve read, some helpful techniques include:
Awareness: learning to notice when you are starting to get mad.
Have a plan: when you notice yourself getting mad, what are you going to do
Breathing: a powerful tool that can be used to regulate our emotions.
Taking a timeout: Simply say, I am not able to talk about this right now so I am going to take a walk to get myself under control.
Understanding: what is it about the situation that has you truly upset?
Why we may have less control: The breaking point
Fatigue: when we are tired, our ability to regulate our emotions are diminished. If you or someone around you is tired, understand that it may not be a good time for emotionally charged situations.
Gas Tank: Studies hae shown that we have only a certaIn amount of patience and/or will power before we start to lose the ability to control it. If our day has required us to be overly patient, there is a good chance we are going to have less of it by the end of the day. The same goes for our kids. If they have had to use all their energy on behaving while at school, there is a good chance we can expect meltdowns when they get home. The more we understand the limits of our gas tank, the more understanding we may be as to why someone is acting like they are.
Triggers: Certain things trigger our emotional responses and understanding why we have these triggers in the first place can be helpful in reducing the power of your response to it. This can take a lot of introspection and for me personally learning why I respond the way I do to certain situations is a huge factor in controlling it in the future.