I’ve written previously about the importance of emotional intelligence in terms of our relationships and our lives. Recently, I was reading one of my favorite blogs called Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, written by Steven Aitchison. He writes about personal development with his passions being belief formation, thoughts, perceptions and emotions. You can get his FREE video course to help Change Your Life at www.AlterYourJacket.com. I’m sharing this article with you so that you can benefit from it in your own life.
Mastering our emotions is an integral part of self growth and something we can all learn to do. A lot of us believe or have believed that we are not in control of our emotions at all, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’d like to show you ‘The Stairway to Emotional Mastery’. It’s a step by step plan in mastering your emotions and it looks like this:
Stairway to Emotional Mastery
Step 1 – Recognize The first step is to recognize your emotion, this might seem ambiguous but basically what I’m talking about here if you feel angry at something , say you’re in the car and someone cuts in front of you and you start to shout some choice expletives, recognise that you feel anger or at least that the act of someone cutting in front of you has caused you to feel an emotion of some kind.
Step 2 – Name your emotion
The second step is to name your emotion. That’s what we are speaking about in the previous example, if someone has cut in front of you, name that particular emotion as anger, label it if you can, as soon as it arises and you can begin to analyze it.
Step 3 – Accept responsibility
The third step is to accept responsibility for that emotion. That might be one of the hardest steps you attempt, because you may deflect i.e. ‘well the guy ‘cut in front of me, it’s his fault’ but it’s you who has chosen to feel that particular emotion; anger. You are allowing others to control you, they are taking your power away from you and actually controlling you. What you are really saying when you are blaming the other person is that they have got the power to make you feel a certain way. So take responsibility for all your emotions and be accountable for your emotions. When you do this your emotions will begin to change because you are taking responsibility for them.
Step 4 – Find another meaning
The fourth step to emotional mastery is find another possible meaning. I’ll give you an example here, if you have children you will realize what I’m talking about here. When you tell your child to do something, maybe three or four times and they still don’t do it you might get angry and perhaps start shouting at them and start to feel really angry. In the past I’d get up and start shouting to get them to listen to me, feeling frustrated etc but when I asked myself why I’m really feeling angry, and questioned if indeed it was anger or another emotion. When I looked at it deep down I’m feeling disrespected, that was the emotion not the anger that’s coming to the front. The feeling of being disrespected is manifested as anger. You might find another emotion that’s really coming up when you feel the emotion of anger it may be another emotion deep down, once you identify it you can look at it and then you can rename it and work on it if appropriate.
Step 5 – Accepting your emotions
Step five to emotional mastery is accepting your emotions. Whatever you feel in life it’s never wrong, if you feel a particular emotion, it may be wrong to take action on the particular emotion but your feelings are purposeful. The emotion is a message from you mind to your body, or spirit, telling you to pay attention to something. So from that emotions are never wrong but the action maybe wrong. If you are feeling angry about something that’s a message just to say listen I have to look at this and you can then explore why you are feeling angry. You have to look at the way you are going about things because anger is the response to previous past experiences which can then be examined and changed if need be.
Step 6 – Does the emotion teach you
The sixth step is asking yourself does the emotion teach you something. Now again an example may be if you were walking down an empty street and you feel a bit nervous or uneasy and you start to feel fearful. You have to ask is the emotion teaching you to feel fearful or is it teaching you to be more aware of your surroundings or is the emotion teaching you to say ‘I’m ok we’re in a well light area there are a lot of people round about, there are shops, CCTV cameras, there’s a police car over there’ its teaching you to be more aware of that particular moment in time as well. So look at what your emotions can be teaching you, it might be another message but to teach you something about yourself and about the world round about you.
Step 7 – Change your emotion
The seventh and last step is to change your emotion, if you have an emotion that is working against you, say for example you are going into exams and you are becoming really anxious and nervous and this is preventing you from concentrating on the exam and this is perpetuating your anxiety, even though you have studied for that last 4 or 5 weeks. To change you emotion you are going to get into a different state of mind. The idea is that you have to remember an event from the past i.e. taking an exam in the past which you have been able to achieve a pass. So you remember how you felt when you came out of that exam, the feelings may have been; relief, confidence etc. So the plan is to get into a different state by thinking about a positive similar experience. So for example when speaking about exams you return to when you passed an exam in the past. How did you feel and get into that state of mind, you are changing you emotion from one of anxiety to one of calmness before you go into the examination area. So changing your state can actually change your emotion. So you are walking into the event armed with the past experience which has resulted in you being more rational and calmer about what you are about to go through. Ultimately you have elicited the state of calmness.
We can all learn to master our emotions and the steps above will put you well on your way to doing this. Learning to listen to yourself and questioning yourself is not an easy task to do as it takes discipline and control.
P.S. from Steve Borgman
A couple resources that I have used and that I also recommend to many of my counseling clients are listed here: This workbook has a very helpful explanation of emotions and their roles in our lives. It will help you be in control of your emotions, rather than feeling that your emotions are in control of you.
A second resource I highly recommend is called the Thoughts and Feelings Workbook: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life.