March 1, 2011
Stay Calm Instead of Overemotional
Keeping the Lid on Negative Emotional Extremes
When you get better at expressing yourself with calmness or healthy emotion, instead of with unnecessary intensity, other people will not only listen more, but also feel more comfortable in your presence.
We are creatures of emotion, and we must express emotion to be fully human. Emotion helps us survive, achieve, and bond. And yet it’s a powerful force that needs taming and guidance for us to live a full life. Emotional control does not mean being robotic or “Vulcan” like Mr. Spock. It means channeling an energy to influence what happens around us and to feel good within us.
Extremes of emotion include being very angry, hyper-enthused, and paralyzed by anxiety. Being overemotional is also shown in irritability, nervousness or tension, and overly strong speech or body language. It is these less extreme, yet troublesome, everyday emotions that we focus on here.
Consequences of Being Overemotional
You raise your voice to your children or spouse or coworker, pound the steering wheel in bad traffic, rant aloud or to yourself when you forget something important or encounter a flight delay, feel very stressed when someone criticizes you or gives you the brush-off, get hyper and panicky when the stock market takes a dive, or even express irritation over some minor office frustration. And what do you get? Things like pushback from your kids, a cold shoulder from your partner, avoidance from your coworker, a missed sale, inconvenience or even an accident when you rush or don’t concentrate, an upset stomach, or more money trouble when you make a rash financial decision.
Yes, there are some situations when we need to show stronger emotion or seriousness, but most of the time it is unnecessary. Most humans tend to be controlled by their emotions instead of being in control. It is the major source of stress, sickness, and unhappiness. So what’s a person to do?
To be calmer and less overemotional, there are some very important thinking skills and attitudes to develop:
- Predict Something Positive. Don’t assume the negative or “jump to conclusions.” Slow down your negative predictions. Take a “let’s see” angle, and a belief in some kind of lesson or positive outcome.
- Accept Uncertainty. Learning to accept things we can’t control brings serenity. Do not to fret over things that are out of your hands.
- Get Perspective. This means “don’t sweat the small stuff.” In one month, one year, or 10 years, what will it matter? Most of the time, not much.
- Accept Setback. When you see a setback as “feedback” for ways to adjust, you will not see it as doom and gloom, or as “proof” of your defectiveness.
- Understand People. The better you are at getting where a person is “coming from,” the less likely you are to overreact. Walk in his shoes.
- Live in the Moment. Being “present” in the “now” is a perennial key to happiness and peace of mind. Be where you are, not in the past or future.
Here are some key things to do to be calmer and less emotional:
- Be Assertive. This always means requesting with respect, with diplomacy, and with reasonable, understandable consequences if necessary.
- Exercise. Exercising when you’re upset is your best medication. Regular exercise is your elixir for balanced emotion.
- Relax or Meditate. Regular practice of deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, and “alone-time” bring greater self-control and peace of mind.
- Take a Break. Leave the scene when you can’t handle a situation well, then relax, returning when you have settled down.
For starters, all you need to do is pick one or two of these thinking and action steps, and practice them for three weeks to see positive changes that may surprise you.
You can do something right now to be calmer and less overemotional:
1st List 2 things that typically get you riled up. Pick one and schedule time to practice a thinking and an acting skill. Plan for a 3-week continuity.
2nd Find some healthy “chill time” that involves one of above methods. To start, find 15 minutes every day for yourself, gradually extending it to 30 – 60 minutes.
3rd Learning to speak with respectful assertiveness and diplomacy is so important, that your emotional life depends on it. Learn. Be a devoted student.