TEEN SOUL POWER
Managing Our Emotions so They Don't Mange Us !
--- The Highs and Lows of Emotions and Mood Swings ---
Feelings are very real and very human, but occasionally they become intense and powerful. The key is to control feelings so they do not control us - our thoughts, words, attitudes and behaviors.
Everyone has feelings, but many experience them intensely, including anger, anxiety, grief, or depression. While emotional lability technically refers to a pathological level of emotions such as uncontrolled laughter or crying, the truth is that many people demonstrate mild and/or infrequent emotional lability. Here emotions fluctuate - sometimes greatly - they may all of a sudden grow much more intense or last longer than normal, or may otherwise be out of proportion with the circumstances.
This article speaks to the normal and mild lability most people experience - the minor mood swings rather than the pathological levels needing treatment and/or medication. Mos5t often these mood swings are when someone is experiencing a more emotional or hypersensitive circumstance or something that they are not prepared to handle, or something that is a "hot button" issue for a person. Here he or she may have difficulty controlling their emotions, for instance, have exaggerated feelings, become easily upset, cry for little reason, or become intensely angry. One often hears someone say at this point, “You are making a mountain out of a molehill.”
As one grows he or she learns better ways of coping and problem solving based upon thought, logic, and experience. But even adults get intense and unmanageable feelings that affect behavior. Often intense emotions cause us to defensively attack someone else, or shut down, or do something self-defeating. Psychologists call it the "fight - flight - freeze" syndrome. And emotions, moods and behaviors can become very intense and uncomfortable - both for us and for others we are with.
It has been said that feelings cannot be controlled. But for civilization, people must recognize and control emotions so they do not become indiscriminate and dominant features of one’s personality and behavioral pattern. In fact, the primary difference between functional and dysfunctional people is the ability and/or inability to grow to manage feelings or to channel them in a positive manner.
Managing Feelings and Controlling Emotions
... do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.
---Saint Francis de Sales
There is a wide variety of strategies to help control emotions, These include relaxation and breathing techniques, learning better communication styles, meditation techniques, yoga, learning better problem solving methods, physical exercise, prayer and religious practices, and even changing one’s environment.
o The most common is the adage “count to ten.” Feelings may be real, but they are often transitory and dissipate with time, and counting to ten gives pause until emotions adjust back to normalized levels. People are often advised “not to do anything when angry” or “not make a major decision when upset”, again, as it allows time for the emotional intensity to subside and for the thinking process to re-surface.
In the vast majority of cases, intense anger for instance, subsides, and so a good idea is to not say anything for one or two minutes, until the emotion subsides and you have had a better chance to reflect upon the situation and your forthcoming response.
o The use of humor is an excellent way to deflect or neutralize certain feelings such as the anger one may feel when criticized. It is almost impossible to have two primary emotions at the same time, and if laughing, it is hard to stay in an anger state.
o Anchoring is one of the desensitization techniques, a method for focusing on an area outside of yourself or the situation, whereby we desensitize to the causation of the emotion.
o Reframing the thoughts, attitudes and actions of others is another common technique. If a person said something which one interprets as an insult, one can feel anger. If one reframes that to understand “where the person was coming from” then the resultant feeling may naturally dissipate.
o Cognitive restructuring is changing the way one thinks, replacing certain negative thoughts with more rational ones, using logic and thought to achieve a more balanced perspective and help override the emotion. For instance, instead of saying "It’s hopeless”, one might say "It's frustrating but it's not the end of the world.”
o Detachment is a coping technique frequently used in alcoholic families. Detachment is a conscious act of releasing oneself from an emotional attachment. Instead of losing oneself in intense emotions, it is a type of planned “depersonalization” to let go of negative emotions.
o Professional counseling is very helpful if emotions are really out of control and affecting behavior, communication, relationships and/or sleep. Counselors can help one learn better coping skills, assertiveness training, better communication styles, or how to look at self-defeating behaviors such as impulsiveness or low frustration tolerance levels.
o Self-help groups such as Emotions Anonymous also help people for the purpose of working toward recovery from emotional difficulties. Group support through this program has been known to work miracles in the lives of many who suffer from emotional problems.
o But, perhaps the best therapy for intense feelings is to talk it over with someone you trust. A second opinion, especially by someone outside of the situation, presents an objective set of eyes and ears, and a good friend can truly give some honest and helpful feedback.
Everybody experiences feelings, but occasionally they become intense and sometimes they may be so intense that they interfere with relationships or peace of mind. If so, one should practice these options for dealing with emotions.
Managing emotions is not easy, but with conscious thought and daily practice it becomes easier - and then pretty much automatic. And again, at times one may need some assistance, and here talking with friends or family about ways to constructively deal with feelings is often the best way to go.