No matter how mentally tough a person is, how we feel is a very powerful part of our lives. And there are times when the feelings of a moment overwhelm us. It might be grief at the loss of a family member or sadness because of a broken relationship. It might be anxious thoughts when dealing with a rebellious teen. It might be an overwhelming sense of love at the sight of your spouse or pride in watching your child succeed. But did you know you can control your emotions?
Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with expressing emotions. God wired us with emotions. But there are some emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear that need to be controlled. Do you control your emotions or do your emotions control you? The next time you feel any of these emotions welling up inside you, try to remember these 3 truths.
1. You can be the boss of your thoughts.
Don’t let yourself believe that you have no authority over your own thoughts. Emotions certainly affect our thoughts, but our thoughts also can be used to guide our emotions, by strengthening them or by countering them. Your thoughts and your emotions, although strongly linked, are not automatically the same. Try to look at your situation objectively. And maybe even bounce it off a trusted friend who can see your situation with less bias to help you sort out your thoughts.
For example, fears and worries about making a career change can be countered by an objective list of “pros and cons.” That way, your thoughts about the choice can better affect your emotions about the choice. But you might need the help of someone who has been down that road before to give you the confidence that your list is thorough, accurate, and meaningful.
2. You can be the boss of your actions.
Even if your emotions continue to be negative, you still have choices to make about your actions. You are capable of choosing to act or not to act on your emotions. Try to take a step back and consider what your choices are, instead of instinctively acting on emotions. The choices you make for the very next actions you take may not make your negative emotions disappear, but they can lessen the power of those emotions over you.
For example, sometimes anger with our children can lead us to react in ways we will regret. Rather than letting your anger lead to those regrettable actions, be the boss of your actions by stepping away, taking some deep breaths, and reminding yourself that what you do in the next few minutes may be the difference between a loving or a disconnected relationship 20 years from now. Then pick your next steps carefully. Don’t just react in the heat of the moment; act with wisdom.
3. You can control only yourself.
One of the common threads in many of the emotions we struggle to manage is the thread of control. We get angry because we can’t control others to get what we want. We worry because we can’t control what tomorrow will bring. We grieve because we lose something or someone due to circumstances that, more often than not, are out of our control. We are afraid because we feel threatened by something we cannot control. When we recognize that more often than not, we can only control ourselves, it’s easier to let go of the things we can’t control. Start focusing on what we can control—how we respond to our emotions.
Here are some related resources to address these issues with your children:
What are some other strategies you can use to control your emotions? Share your thoughts in our comments section below.