It’s one of the most frequent questions in emotional intelligence workshops worldwide.

How can I get better at controlling my feelings?

The language of this question reveals a bias that there are bad emotions requiring control – which means exerting power to subdue. Here’s a simply radical shift in perspective: How can I get better at harnessing my feelings? We call it Navigating Emotions.

In under 5 minutes, Dr. Barbara Fatum offers practical tips for all of us do a better job with feelings, including ideas on how to teach this invaluable skill to children — here’s the video. Below are several more resources.

Easy Tips for Controlling Emotions

1. Change your perspective.

Emotions, even challenging ones like anger, fear and jealousy, are there for a reason! They’re messages from you to you — there’s wisdom. Instead of “controlling” the emotions, control your behavior (hitting, shouting, hurting, running are all behaviors).

Here’s a bit of neuroscience about emotions and how to handle feelings better.  

2. Create emotions strategies.

Consider: What do you want to happen next? Based on that: What feelings will help make that happen? Do you have any of those feelings? Chances are, in any situation you have multiple feelings — call on the ones that will help you move forward.

Here’s advice on strategic use of emotions in business.

And an article to discuss the meaning of emotions with children.

3. Charge your compassion batteries.

It’s tough to make emotionally wise choices when you’re feeling of compassion is hiding. Interestingly: Actively practicing to care about others increases your compassion — which increases your own inner peace.

Here are insights from Dr. Daniel Goleman and the Dalai Lama on compassion, including an inspiring, powerful video.

What’s your favorite tip for handling emotions? Add it in the comments below!

For even more ideas, check this collection of self-management tips from the global emotional intelligence network.

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
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