How to control your thoughts and emotions can be challenging. It is important to understand the difference between our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and behaviors.
We all have these four aspects of ourselves which are constantly in flux with one another. There are many things you can do to help yourself regulate what’s going on inside of you so that you feel calmer and more in control.
In this blog post, I will teach you how to control your thoughts and emotions so that you can maintain a positive outlook on life!
1. Identify the feeling
2. Determine if it is a positive or negative feeling
3. Figure out what caused the feeling
4. Use your senses to take control of your thoughts and emotions
5. Create an action plan
6. Be honest with yourself about how you feel
Identify the feeling you are experiencing
To properly identify what feelings you are experiencing, it is important to observe your body for physical symptoms. For example, one feels could be that your heart is racing or that you feel like you can’t catch your breath.
Others, such as fear or sadness may cause trembling of the lips or quivering voices. If these symptoms are present, chances are you are experiencing fear or sadness.
Identifying how you feel can be tricky, so it is important to understand that sometimes we experience multiple feelings at once. This process makes it easier to identify the primary feeling, but also allows us to accept any other emotions which may have been lurking underneath.
Determine if the feeling is positive or negative
Our emotions can be positive or negative, which is determined by how we view the situation. For example, consider a person who has just won $50,000 in the lottery. On one hand, this could cause feelings of happiness among other things. However, if someone else were to win $50,000 they may feel sadness because they are unable to share the experience.
Just keep in mind that sometimes it is not always necessary to judge our feelings as positive or negative, but simply acknowledge them and let them dissipate.
Figure out what caused the feeling
Sometimes we can easily identify what has triggered a particular feeling, while other times it may be more difficult. This may be due to whether or not we were conscious at the time, or we may have been too distracted to process exactly why we were feeling a certain way.
An example of this could be if someone said something during a conversation which you didn’t like and as a result made you feel angry. You might ask yourself: “What was it that triggered my anger? Is it because I believe that what they said was untrue or inaccurate? Or is it possible that this person subconsciously reminds me of someone who has hurt me in the past?”
While we can’t always figure out why we feel certain ways, simply understanding triggers and how to cope with them makes it easier to deal with.
Using your senses to take control of your thoughts and emotions
Using our five senses is a great way to gain back control when we feel that our thoughts or feelings are spiraling out of control. These include sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
The sense which I find most useful when dealing with negative emotions is sight. I find that images can have a lasting effect on my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes simply taking a picture of something which makes you happy or relaxed is all it takes to refocus your attention.
Another great way to take control of your thoughts is by using sound. This includes anything from music to kind words said by someone close to you. I recommend using this strategy prior to going to bed or if you are unable to find anything which makes you feel more positive.
Creating an action plan
Creating a plan can help keep your thoughts and emotions from spiraling out of control. This may include things such as finding a friend, listening to music, or taking a walk around the block.
An action plan also helps you avoid doing things that can lead to negative results such as engaging in unproductive behaviors such as gossiping, phoning a friend who is in a bad mood, and overindulging in any substance (including alcohol).
To create an action plan we must first identify what we want to achieve. Ask yourself: “What do I want to accomplish? How will this make me feel when (it is completed)? Is there anyone else who might be affected by the outcome?”
When you are ready to take action, don’t wait! Don’t let your mind wander in order to come up with excuses as to why you shouldn’t do it. Just get started and don’t give up!
Assertiveness and Control
Assertiveness means standing up for yourself in a manner that doesn’t hurt others. It can be used as a way to take control of our thoughts and emotions, but it isn’t always easy. This is because we may feel conflicted between what we know (or think we know) and what we want.
Take a look at the following examples:
“I know that it is important to eat healthily, but I also want a piece of cake.”
“My girlfriend/boyfriend cheated on me, so I want to get revenge.”
In both of these examples, there are negative consequences. Yes, it is important to eat healthily and we should never allow anyone to take advantage of us or treat us badly.
The problem however comes from the fact that we are allowing our desire for immediate satisfaction to control our actions. We may feel better at the moment, but what about later on?
Making logical decisions can be difficult! One way to make things easier for ourselves is to imagine our future selves. Ask yourself: “How will I feel once I’ve given in and eaten the cake/gotten revenge?”
“I know it’s not healthy, but…
I don’t want to spend time with people who are bad influences on me.”
In this example, the person is willing to sacrifice immediate gratification in order to achieve a long-term goal. They avoid situations that they know will cause them harm and instead spend time with more positive people.
Allowing yourself to be upset can help you let go of negative thoughts and emotions while also allowing yourself to feel good again. However, this isn’t always the best way to feel better. Sometimes we must let go of our immediate thoughts in order to focus on long-term goals.
“It’s not okay what happened, but I know that revenge won’t fix anything.”
When things happen which are difficult to accept, it can be helpful to allow yourself time to grieve or cry. This is especially true if the loss is a loved one or if the event was unexpected. However, after this initial time of feeling upset, it can be helpful to refocus your thoughts and energy on increasing your self-esteem and taking control of your life.
One final way to take control of negative emotions involves asking yourself what needs to happen in order for you to feel better. In some cases, the answer might be that nothing can decrease your sadness or hurt feelings. In this case, it is best to wait until these emotions have dissipated before trying to focus on other things.
In other cases, however, taking control of negative thoughts and emotions can lead to a more positive state of mind.
engage in activities that will decrease your stress level. If you are working, consider taking a break to walk around or call someone who makes you laugh. If you are at home try listening to music, exercising, or calling a friend to see what they are up to. Once you can begin to think more positively, make a list of all the things that make yourself feel good and try to do at least one of them each day!
Be honest with yourself about how you feel
If you are being bullied or if someone is treating you poorly, don’t be afraid to tell them that their behavior is unacceptable. Likewise, don’t be afraid to remove yourself from a situation that makes you unhappy.
You may feel upset at first after ending a relationship or telling someone that their actions are wrong, but in the long-term, you will feel much better if you can focus on what makes you happy and not let self-esteem issues rule your life.
It’s difficult to make logical decisions when we want something immediately, but by imagining our future selves we can help rally support for long-term goals. Remember: this isn’t about telling yourself “no” all the time. It’s about removing negative influences and focusing on what will bring you happiness.
“When I allow myself to act how I want, my life is much more enjoyable.”
By allowing yourself to create positive experiences for yourself, you can feel better in the long term. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore your friends or family, but rather that you should avoid people and situations which don’t make you happy and strengthen the relationships with those who do.
The bottom line
If you’ve read this article in its entirety, then I hope that it has helped to clarify some misconceptions about how our minds work.
When we consciously learn the science behind what makes us think and feel certain things, we can better understand ourselves and control our thoughts and emotions more effectively.
The brain is a fascinating organ with amazing abilities! It’s also very complex which means there are still many unanswered questions for scientists to explore further.
What did you find most interesting? Let me know below!