The Leftover Pizza

Daily life Pizzazz, some nuggets, some fun

How to take control of your emotions

Copied out from wikihow. Thought it was a great checklist.

1. Know your emotions. There are a million different ways you can feel, but scientists have classified human emotions into a few basics that everyone can recognize: joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation.[1] Jealousy, for example, is a manifestation of fear – fear that you’re not “as good” as something else, fear of being abandoned because you’re not “perfect” or “the best”.

2. Recognize that emotions don’t just appear mysteriously out of nowhere. Many times, we’re at the mercy of our emotions on a subconscious level. By recognizing your emotions on a conscious level, you’re better able to control them. It’s also good to recognize an emotion from the moment it materializes, as opposed to letting it build up and intensify. The last thing you want to do is ignore or repress your feelings, because if you’re reading this, you probably know that when you do that, they tend to get worse and erupt later. Ask yourself throughout the day: “How am I feeling right now?” If you can, keep a journal.

 3. Notice what was going through your mind when the emotion appeared. Stop and analyze what you were thinking about, until you find what thought was causing that emotion. Your boss may not have made eye contact with you at lunch, for example; and without even being aware of it, the thought may have been in the back of your mind, “He’s getting ready to fire me!”
4. Write down the evidence which supports the thought that produced the emotion or against that thought. When you begin to think about it, you might realize that since nobody gets along well with this particular boss, he can’t afford to actually fire anyone, because the department is too short-staffed. For example, you may have let slip something that you should not have said which angered him, but which it is too late to retract.
5. Ask yourself, “What is another way to look at the situation that is more rational and more balanced than the way I was looking at it before?” Taking this new evidence into account, you may conclude that your job is safe, regardless of your boss’s petty annoyances, and you’re relieved of the emotion that was troubling you. If this doesn’t work, however, continue to the next step.
6. Consider your options. Now that you know what emotion you’re dealing with, think of at least two different ways you can respond. Your emotions control you when you assume there’s only one way to react, but you always have a choice. For example, if someone insults you, and you experience anger, your immediate response might be to insult them back. But no matter what the emotion, there are always at least two alternatives, and you can probably think of more:
  • Don’t react. Do nothing.
  • Do the opposite of what you would normally do.

7. Make a choice. When deciding what to do, it’s important to make sure it’s a conscious choice, not a reaction to another, competing emotion. For example, if someone insults you and you do nothing, is it your decision, or is it a response to your fear of confrontation? Here are some good reasons to act upon:

  • Principles – Who do you want to be? What are your moral principles? What do you want the outcome of this situation to be? Ultimately, which is the decision you’d be most proud of? This is where religious guidance comes into play for many people.
  • Logic – Which course of action is the most likely to result in the outcome you desire? For example, if you’re being confronted with a street fight, and you want to take the pacifist route, you can walk away–but, there’s a good chance that burly drunk will be insulted if you turn your back. Maybe it’s better to apologize and keep him talking until he calms down.

IDEAS THAT CAUSE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS

Change your perspective. The above steps show how to not let your emotions control your behavior on the spot. If you want to experience fewer negative emotions to begin with, change the way you see the world. If you learn how to be optimistic and laid back, you’ll find that negative emotions make fewer appearances to be reckoned with.

  • Eliminate many of the underlying core beliefs which give rise to your disturbing thoughts and negative emotions. There are many irrational ideas that repeatedly upset us[2] They are all false,but many of us are inclined to at least some of them part of the time. You can get rid of these ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out…
  • “I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile.” Nobody can be perfect in everythingthat we have to do in life. But if you believe that you’re a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
  • “I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me.” Sometimes you just can’t help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can’t make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
  • “When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people.” Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
  • “It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected.” Some people have such a short fuse, that they are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
  • “Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change.” Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance. You can choose whether to see yourself as an effect of your circumstances, or a cause.
  • “If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it.” Many people believe that “the work of worrying” will help to make problems go away. “Okay, that’s over. Now, what’s the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?”
  • “It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them.” Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as a basis for learning and future growth.
  • “Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future.” If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time — and sometimes they change dramatically!
  • “It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.” Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can’t predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
  • “I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes.” If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as a pathway to further growth.

IDEAS THAT MAKE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS WORSE

Learn to avoid the cognitive distortions which make things look worse than they really are. Most of us have heard the expression, “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.” But when you use cognitive distortions, you tend to look at the world through mud-colored glasses! Here are some ideas that you should stop from rolling through your head if you catch yourself thinking them…

  • All-or-nothing thinking. Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If you aren’t perfect, then you’re a failure. You procastinate doing stuff because they are not perfect until you have no other choice than doing them.
  • Overgeneralization. A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. “I didn’t get a phone call. I’ll never hear from anybody again.”
  • Mental filter. One single negative thing colors everything else. When you’re depressed, it sometimes feels like you’re “looking at the world through mud-colored glasses.”
  • Disqualifying the positive. If somebody says something good about you, it doesn’t count. But if somebody says something bad about you, you “knew it all along.”
  • Jumping to conclusions. You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
  • Mind reading. You think somebody is disrespecting you and don’t bother to check it out. You just assume that he is.
  • The Fortune Teller Error. You think that things are going to turn out badly, and convince yourself that this is already a fact.
  • Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization. Imagine that you’re looking at yourself or somebody else through a pair of binoculars. You might think that a mistake you made or somebody else’s achievement are more important than they really are. Now imagine that you’ve turned the binoculars around and you’re looking through them backwards. Something you’ve done might look less important than it really is, and somebody else’s faults might look less important than they really are.
  • Emotional reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  • Should statements. You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You “should” do this, you “must” do this, you “ought” to do this, and so on. This doesn’t make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  • Labeling and mislabeling. This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When you make a mistake, you give yourself a label, such as, “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  • Personalization. You believe that you were the cause of something bad that happened, when you really didn’t have very much to do with it. And ask a friend to help you realize your emotions or worries so that you can have someone to rely on.
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