If you don’t know how to control your emotions,you run the risk of letting your emotions control you.
“Your ability to regulate those emotions, in turn, affects how you’re perceived by the people around you,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts. “Laughing during a meeting will lead to resentment. Reacting with rage to bad drivers will provoke the wrong kind of attention.”
The key to learning how to control your emotions is to develop self awareness. Once you are aware of the workings of your mind, you’re more able to change those inner workings.
“Our mind deploys self-awareness to keep everything we do on track,” says Daniel Goleman, Ph.D, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “In the mind’s design, self-awareness is built into regulating our own emotions, as well as sensing what others feel.”
Thankfully there is a very easy way to improve your self awareness: simply name your emotions. That’s all. That one little cognitive function of ascribing a name to your emotions will significantly boost your self awareness levels.
Brain scans have shown that when we associate negative emotions with words we calm the emotional centre of the brain. This is cited as being one of the main reasons why meditation is of psychological benefit, because when we sit and focus our minds we become better able to observe our emotions and thus to name them.
Research by UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman showed that naming emotions caused the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex region—an area associated with thinking in words about emotional experiences— to become more active, while activity in the amygdala becomes calmer.
To learn how to control your emotions better, try this simple mindfulness exercise
Many of our readers already practice mindfulness and so are already seeing these emotional benefits, but if you are new meditation you might like to know how to start.
Thankfully, it’s easy to start practicing.
All you need to is find a twenty minute period in the day when you can relax by yourself (for this reason, you may wish to bookmark this page for later by pressing CTRL + D on your keyboard, so you can return to this exercise later).
Then, once you’ve got twenty minutes to spare, simply follow the step by step guide on the next page.