How to Deal with Difficult Emotions: Post 2

Building from yesterday’s post in which we looked at some key steps to managing difficult emotions, today we look at the “0 to 60” response. Very often, people will remark that they can’t control their emotions- that when they feel something, their need to act on it is immediate. That might be anger by means of a quick or short temper, fear – which can produce a panic attack or immediate tears when triggered to something sad or overwhelming. As we touched on yesterday, every feeling that we have is meant to be there. Feelings produce action urges, and it is often the follow through on those action urges that can get us into trouble. In order to temper the “0 to 60” response, we can begin by:

  1. Understanding that it doesn’t have to be that way. Question why you have that type of response. What are your triggers? Is this a learned behaviour? Was it something that you used in childhood that protected you but now doesn’t work for you as well? It is important to begin to understand that just because something has been one way for a long time, doesn’t mean it can’t change.
  2. Take a deep breath. Or maybe two, or three. We know that shallow breathing quickens the response part of our body to react. We also know that a deep breath resets that….taking that moment will remind us “Hey, it’s okay to slow this down. It’s okay to think about how I want to react.” Deep breathing inhibits anxiety, anger and impulsiveness.
  3. Sleep on it. Hard to imagine not reacting? Just try it the next time you are feeling especially overwhelmed by your emotions. Give yourself permission to slow it down long enough to say “How do I want to react to this? Do I need to act right away?” Sometimes giving ourselves time allows our rational brain to contribute it’s two cents worth, tempering the emotion and need to act.

It is not always easy to manage difficult emotions but it is possible. It will take some practice and patience – be compassionate with yourself for your efforts. 🙂

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