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Stay Rational In Any Situation: Control Emotions In 11 Steps

Maintain your balance, your sense of peace and purpose, and move faster toward your goals just by controlling your emotions.

Emotions are the driving force behind motivation, feeling, behavior, and physiological changes.


The difference between emotions and feelings

Emotions and feelings play a powerful role in how you experience and interact with the world as they drive your behaviors, which are guided by unconscious perceptions.


There are distinct differences between feelings and emotions:

  • Emotions – are physical and instinctual, and can be recognized by blood flow, brain activity, facial micro-expressions, and body language. Scientifically, emotions are lower level responses that originate in the subcortical regions of the brain (the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortices). The amygdala causes emotional arousal and regulates the release of neurotransmitters essential for memory. The meanings emotions take on, and the feelings they arouse, are different for each person based on your programming of the past and present.
  • Feelings – are sparked by emotions and influenced by your thoughts and memories that’s subconsciously linked with that particular emotion. Feelings originate in the neocortical regions of the brain, and are mental associations or reactions to emotions. Feelings are essentially an expression of a certain emotion and influenced by personal experience, beliefs, and memories.

By becoming aware of your emotions and feelings – fully understanding them, determining their root causes and applying conscious thought followed by deliberate action – you can choose how you navigate through life and experience your world.


If you can learn to control emotional impulses and the feelings they trigger, you can transform from a chaotic, responsive state (reacting quickly and without thought) to a calm, proactive state (taking control rather than just adjusting to a situation).


Types of emotions


Paul Ekman in his book, Emotions Revealed he presented six basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise). It is said that basic emotions evolved in response to the ecological challenges faced by the ancients are so primitive as to be hardwired – with each basic emotion corresponding to a distinct and dedicated neurological circuit. Basic emotions therefore are innate and universal, automatic, and fast, and trigger behaviour with a high survival value.


In 1980 Robert Plutchik constructed a wheel-like diagram of emotions visualising eight basic emotions, plus eight derivative emotions each composed of two basic ones.

Pic Source: Wikicommons

In 2001, Shaver compiled a deeper list of emotions categorized as:

Primary emotion Secondary emotion Tertiary emotions
Love Affection Adoration, affection, love, fondness, liking, attraction, caring, tenderness, compassion, sentimentality
Lust Arousal, desire, lust, passion, infatuation
Longing Longing
Joy Cheerfulness Amusement, bliss, cheerfulness, gaiety, glee, jolliness, joviality, joy, delight, enjoyment, gladness, happiness, jubilation, elation, satisfaction, ecstasy, euphoria
Zest Enthusiasm, zeal, zest, excitement, thrill, exhilaration
Contentment Contentment, pleasure
Pride Pride, triumph
Optimism Eagerness, hope, optimism
Enthrallment Enthrallment, rapture
Relief Relief
Surprise Surprise Amazement, surprise, astonishment
Anger Irritation Aggravation, irritation, agitation, annoyance, grouchiness, grumpiness
Exasperation Exasperation, frustration
Rage Anger, rage, outrage, fury, wrath, hostility, ferocity, bitterness, hate, loathing, scorn, spite, vengefulness, dislike, resentment
Disgust Disgust, revulsion, contempt
Envy Envy, jealousy
Torment Torment
Sadness Suffering Agony, suffering, hurt, anguish
Sadness Depression, despair, hopelessness, gloom, glumness, sadness, unhappiness, grief, sorrow, woe, misery, melancholy
Disappointment Dismay, disappointment, displeasure
Shame Guilt, shame, regret, remorse
Neglect Alienation, isolation, neglect, loneliness, rejection, homesickness, defeat, dejection, insecurity, embarrassment, humiliation, insult
Sympathy Pity, sympathy
Fear Horror Alarm, shock, fear, fright, horror, terror, panic, hysteria, mortification
Nervousness Anxiety, nervousness, tenseness, uneasiness, apprehension, worry, distress, dread

How to control your emotions


In any situation, your first reaction is often an emotional reaction with a tendency to work against you rather than for you.


You need to become aware of each and every emotional state quickly, understand it for what it is, then control or manage it, and finally transform it so that it can serve you in some way. It’s there to teach you valuable lessons about yourself, your circumstance and about life.


Here are 11 ways to control and manage emotions and feelings:


Identify the emotion you are experiencing. Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now? Am I really feeling this [emotion], or is it a disguise for something deeper? The more clarity you gain here, the more effective you’ll be in controlling the right emotion.

No matter what emotion you experience – do not resist it. Accept it. Appreciate it. Resisting it will prevent you from turning this emotion into something positive as you move forward. Acknowledge the emotion and search for it’s personal meaning and significance.

Look at it from all angles. This will open doors to new perspectives and opportunities that can help you gain unique insights. Ask yourself: What does this emotion offer me? What is the true value of this emotion? In what specific ways does this emotion serve me? How can I make things better?

Get confident

Consciously choose the new emotional response you will experience in a similar situation moving forward. Obtain any necessary knowledge and support that you may require that will help you to manage your response more effectively. Try to recalling a time in your past where you handled this emotion successfully and turned it to your advantage.


Become resilient

In order to strengthen your resilience – build an emotional fortress. Your emotional fortress is a safe place you create in your mind that keeps you strong during tough and difficult times. Imagine a special place, your personal sanctuary that will help you find strength and guidance. Here, you can talk with anyone that can give you guidance and fortitude. Use your emotional fortress when you need to remove yourself from your circumstances, which will assist in responding in positive and optimal ways.

Psychological transformation
Your thoughts, expectations, self-talk and perceptions all work together to create the reality you experience, and influence the emotions you experience. Therefore choose your thoughts consciously and your self-talk wisely.  


Whenever you are feeling emotionally drained or charged by negative emotions, calm yourself by breathing consciously; breathe-in and exhale a couple of times while focusing purely on your breathing. Empty your thoughts, and bring your heart rate down.

Learn to communicate your needs and desires correctly and openly. Also ask others how they feel, why they feel that way and how they would like to potentially resolve these feelings. Learning from each other will help tremendously to understand different emotions and in the various forms they appear.


Get physical
Researchers from Harvard – whose work was published in the journal Cognition and Emotion – recently tested exercise’s effect on the emotional impact of negative events. They found that acute exercise can help you regulate your mood and boost your resilience to emotional situations before they happen. It can boost levels of endorphins, which have linked with an increase in moods and relaxation. It can also signal the body to produce other brain chemicals like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which also help fight stress. Exercise also naturally reduces stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in the body.

NLP anchoring
Anchoring is using a physical signal (like squeezing your thumb or earlobe) to start experiencing a specific type of emotion you want in a particular situation. Once the anchor is conditioned – you can trigger the emotional state any time.

Make a conscious decision of always being in control

You are always in full control of your emotions no matter how things may appear. And as such you can always choose to feel differently and to take conscious control of your emotional state.

Please note

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