Can you control your emotions? The short answer is, “No!” It is important to remember that while to can’t control your emotions, you can learn how to be with them, live peacefully with them, influence them, manage them and release them.
Think of people who go along day after day seeming to function normally, and suddenly, they explode in anger at something that seems relatively trivial and inconsequential. This is one sign of someone who is trying to control or repress their emotions, but their repressed emotions are leaking out.
The more anyone tries to control their emotions the more they resist control, and the more frightened people can become at what is seen to be a “loss of emotional control.” It is a vicious circle and reinforces the adage that “What you resist persists.”
We might be making some progress but, largely, society still encourages us to hide our emotions, to be ashamed of them or to be afraid of them. It is also popular (and necessary to a certain extent) to be politically correct when displaying our emotions. Showing emotion in public can be seen as being “out of control” and thought of as a sign of weakness. People often feel uncomfortable with those who are able to express strong emotions. Regardless of societal rules, we are born with emotions and must learn to manage them effectively. Your first critical Key Step is to gain…
The Benefits of Building an Emotional Vocabulary
An important study found that naming emotions reduces the intensity of emotion processing in the brain, possibly outlining a brain network responsible for the old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved.”
A team led by psychologist Dr Matthew Lieberman of UCLA, brain-scanned participants while they looked at pictures of faces that had different emotional expressions. This study went to great lengths to show that naming an emotion seems to reduce its impact. It turned out that when naming an emotion, activity in a frontal lobe area called the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (right VLPFC) significantly increased while activity in the amygdala decreased. In other words, rescuing us from ‘fight and flight’ and enabling us to regulate our feelings and respond more effectively.
One of the best ways to achieve a greater emotional vocabulary is to start journalling and take time to reflect on your feelings and increase your self-awareness, which is the gateway to emotional intelligence. Remember to allow yourself to feel your feelings and experience them as data not directives. By taking these Key Steps you can…
NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.
Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.
Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.
Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’