Emotions are complex and often misunderstood. But what if you could cut through all the complexity and confusion and manage your emotions like a boss in just 3 simple steps?
It’s important to master the skill of managing your emotions. Not only does it make you a nicer person to be around, but your emotions are an important key to physical health.
Poorly managed emotions support an endless cycle of chronic stress in your body that depresses your immune system and makes you age faster. Unbridled emotions can also exacerbate your perceptions of physical pain. When your pain levels increase, your blood pressure goes up… and the chronic stress intensifies. And of course, when your pain levels are high, you’ll be tempted to consume far more pain medication than you actually need.
But managing your emotions is often easier said than done…
In today’s culture, we don’t routinely explore our emotions. Sure, we’re willing to openly express our emotional responses at the drop of a hat on social media. But that’s not an effective emotional management strategy.
Unfortunately, most people never learn any real-world skills for managing emotions constructively. That’s too bad, because emotional management or “coping” skills are teachable and learnable– and mastering them can help us reduce or avoid the need for medication. But that’s a different post…
In this post, I’m sharing 3 simple steps for managing your emotions like a boss: 1) understand; 2) allow; and 3) manage.
When you can understand your emotions, allow your emotions, and manage your emotions, your emotions won’t run you.When you can understand your emotions, allow your emotions, and manage your emotions, your emotions won't run you.Click To Tweet
Understand your emotions.
What are emotions anyway? Darlene Mininni, author of The Emotional Toolkit, says emotions are a “full body experience” and defines them as an interplay between thoughts and physical sensations. I like this definition because it recognizes emotions as a manifestation of the connection between body and mind.
As a holistic nurse practitioner, I believe we can’t effectively address the imbalances or dis-ease states in the body without considering the needs of the mind and spirit as well. Understanding emotions– what they are, how they work, and how they help us relate to others and the world around us– is a fundamental step in achieving our health and wellness goals.
Understanding emotions begins with introspection and self reflection. Be willing to go within and identify your feelings. Give them a name. Recognize that emotions serve a purpose in your life– to keep you safe, to keep you motivated, and more. And as such, it’s important to consider how emotions can affect your decisions.I like to think of emotions as a manifestation of the body-mind connection.Click To Tweet
Allow your emotions.
Once you understand your emotions, it’s time to allow them. Emotions are part of being human, and as such, we must allow ourselves to experience them– the full spectrum of feelings from pain to pleasure and everything in between. The key is to keep moving through your experience of emotion, and not get stuck in any one emotional state for too long.
Allowing your emotions means accepting them. Not judging them as wholly good or bad and not stuffing them down or ignoring them. Repressed or un-expressed emotions can come back to haunt us in truly negative ways. It may be helpful to think of an emotion as a signal that you need to pay attention or address something in your life a different way. Let yourself cry. It’s a natural human response. Stay open to any messages the tears may bring. Then move on.
Allowing your emotions involves finding constructive ways to express your feelings. You may not be able to control the circumstances that triggered the feelings you are experiencing, or even the feelings themselves, but you can control your reactions. Journaling, exercise, artwork, music, and other creative activities can be helpful ways to allow emotions to move through you.Allowing your emotions means accepting them. Let yourself cry. It's a natural human response. Stay open to any messages the tears may bring. Then move on.Click To Tweet
Manage your emotions.
The 3 steps outlined in this post may be simple but that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Managing your emotions effectively every day can take a lifetime of practice. The good news is, it’s never too late to start.
There are many techniques and tools for managing emotions including things like breathwork, movement, meditation, affirmations, aromatherapy, and energy balancing techniques. Ultimately, your success depends on discovering the healthy coping mechanisms that work best for you, and being willing to make positive changes in your life.
It all begins with self-awareness: Know your core values, your personal boundaries, and how to get your emotional needs met. Know when and how to shift your focus, and what works best to keep you calm.
Your self awareness allows you to choose different responses in the moment, change your environment, shift your perspective, take action to control what you can, and talk about your feelings constructively.Managing your emotions effectively every day can take a lifetime of practice. The good news is, it's never too late to start.Click To Tweet
*** Now It’s Your Turn to Take Action ***
Are you open to the challenge of applying these 3 simple steps in your daily life? Start by using this tool for understanding your emotions in the moment, and you’ll soon be on the road to allowing and managing your emotions more effectively in any situation.
Whenever you feel an intense wave of emotion wash over you, stop and think to yourself, “I am SO HALTED.”
The memory aid SO HALTED stands for a series of introspective questions that will help you understand how you’re really feeling so you can allow the emotion to run its course while you determine your next action steps.
Once you’ve paused, ask yourself each of the following questions:
S = Am I scared?
O = Am I overwhelmed?
H = Am I hungry?
A = Am I angry?
L = Am I lonely?
T = Am I tired?
E = Am I embarrassed?
D = Am I disappointed?
Write down your answers to these questions, and explore your thoughts around any other questions that may arise naturally from your answers. Once you know what you’re feeling, your next steps will become clear.
…some comments from my own experience…
I like the SO HALTED tool because it’s simple, effective, and straightforward. It keeps me focused on exploring my present emotion so my mind doesn’t spiral off into unrelated territory.
I can’t remember where I learned SO HALTED, but I’ll admit it’s not always easy to decide whether I’m more scared than angry, or more embarrassed than disappointed. It varies from situation to situation. I often feel multiple emotions simultaneously. And sometimes how I’m feeling doesn’t even show up on the SO HALTED list.
All of that’s okay. The point is to slow down, take the time to go within, and understand.
The clarity that comes from answering the SO HALTED questions makes it easier to allow the emotion to share its message with me. Having a clear sense of what I’m experiencing makes it easier to determine my appropriate next steps. No matter what the situation, after using SO HALTED, I’ll have the confidence to manage my emotions, by taking the next step and moving on. And that brings me peace.
Your physical health is intimately tied to your emotional wellness. Having a happier healthier life involves understanding, allowing, and managing your emotions.
Begin by giving yourself the space and time you need to understand your emotions. Allow yourself to experience the full range of human emotions without judgment. Then manage your emotions by knowing what tools and techniques work best to help you shift your focus and staying calm.
Managing emotions effectively is a skill to be mastered over time. One tool to get you started is the SO HALTED memory aid for 8 self-reflection questions. Pausing to answer the SO HALTED questions when you experience intense emotion will bring you one small step closer to a happier healthier life. Here’s to managing your emotions like a boss!
Do you have other tools or techniques you like to use for managing emotions? Please leave your comments below.