Our emotions are essential and act as our internal guide through life. Emotions help us make decisions in each moment and tell us when something is right or wrong. At the deepest level, our emotions are driven by our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
For much of the time our emotions are appropriate for the situation but sometimes it might feel like our emotions are outside of our control or are the cause of our problems.
Part of developing emotional fitness is to understand our emotions and understand that not only do you have a choice to change your emotional state but also that taking action is key to achieving this.
Here are three starting points on how to gain more of a sense of control over your emotions:
1 – Your focus – What you focus on becomes your experience
Have you ever had that experience of remembering something sad from your past and suddenly feeling like crying? Or of being absorbed in something you really enjoy and feeling great afterwards. Our emotions are triggered by what we focus on both externally and within our minds.
When I ask clients the question, “if you didn’t have this issue any more, how would you like to be?”, most of the time they’ll give me answers like “I wouldn’t feel scared”. “I wouldn’t be anxious anymore”, “I would be free of this problem”…
I always follow this up with “so how do you want to be then?” which sometimes gets a funny look because they think they’ve just told me, haven’t they?
No, they’ve told me what they don’t want. They’ve just repeated their issue because that’s where their focus has been for so long and it’s become their habit.
It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong and what you can’t do. It takes practise to focus on what’s right or what you really want.
The good news is that what you focus on is YOUR CHOICE!
If you are experiencing anxiety issues or depression then I recommend you get professional help such as hypnotherapy, psycho-therapy, personal coaching or Emotional Freedom Technique to enable you to shift your focus and empower you into emotional fitness.
For others, I’d recommend finding interesting ways to shift your focus onto the things you want in life or learn ways to manage thoughts such as by practising Mindfulness
2 – Your physiology
Our mind and body are connected. We first experience emotions in our bodies which then triggers thought patterns and behaviours which can then lead to an emotional cycle. This is why physical exercise and what we eat are so influential to our overall emotional wellbeing.
I wrote another blog post on here about how our body language can biochemically change how we feel and we can increase our confidence by changing our body language so take a look for more details on that here
Physical movement helps to release adrenaline and increase endorphins in the body and restore a balanced rhythm. If you are experiencing a heightened emotional response to something try physically changing positions, stretching and breathing, or movement to raise your heart rate.
3 – The power of words
We are influenced by the words that we hear from others but also the words we say to ourselves inside our heads. If we keep telling ourselves that something is difficult or we can’t do something then this becomes our focus and perpetuates a limiting belief.
The words we tell ourselves can either be negative or empowering. You can choose to either be your own critic or learn how to become your own supportive coach.
This is not all about positive thinking but it’s about learning that what we say influences our focus and therefore our emotions. Self-criticism is also a learnt habit and like any habit, it can sometimes need you to take effort to break it.
Apart from telling yourself to “stop it!” when you next have a cycle of negative self-talk, you might question your thoughts:
- Is this thought true? Is it kind? Is it helpful?
You might also like to repeat positive affirmations to yourself each day. A positive affirmation is a positive statement in the present tense eg: “I am confident and I can do this”.
Another option is to write down the things you are grateful for each day or your affirmations so you can see them every day.
I hope you find this useful.
Clare Burgess is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and personal development coach. She first discovered the power of hypnotherapy when she was pregnant with her second child. A positive birth experience aided by hypnotherapy and hypnobirthing inspired Clare to train as a hypnotherapist. Clare is passionate about helping people overcome anxiety issues and emotional blocks in their lives through her work. To read more about Clare click here
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