A word that keeps popping up in mom circles is “overwhelmed.” We were overwhelmed by the number of obligations on the calendar, the amount of work our kids brought home, and the newest apps our kids are downloading. Then COVID happened and we became overwhelmed by things completely out of our control. We all know how important is it to control your emotions when kids are watching and taking cues from your behavior, but sometimes, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can feel like your emotions are controlling you.
1. You can be the boss of your thoughts.
Don’t let yourself believe that you have zero 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. 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 things out.
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 you find yourself feeling negative emotions, you are capable of choosing either to react to them or to process them. Try to take a step back and consider what your choices are. The choice you make for the very next step may not make your negative emotions disappear, but they can lessen the power of those emotions over you.
Even if you find yourself feeling negative emotions, you are capable of choosing either to react to them or to process them.
For example, rather than letting your anger at your kids lead to screaming, spanking, or saying hurtful words, be the boss of your actions. Step away, take some deep breaths, and remind 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.
3. You can control only yourself.
If you find that you struggle to control your emotions, it could be that you want to control others. We get angry because we can’t control others to get what we want. Worry comes when 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.
What are some other strategies you can use to control your emotions?