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How Well Do You Control Your Emotions?
By Scott Morrell

We’ve all added emoji’s to a text message to help communicate a feeling, a mood or an emotion.  A smiley face, a sad face, laughing with tears, or a thumbs up.  Each of them help to communicate our emotions to the receiver of our message.  While we have many words (and emoji’s) to describe our emotions, all emotions are derived from five core feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, fear and shame. And as we go through our day, we are subject to a constant stream of these feelings.  These feelings cause us to have emotional reactions to everything that happens in our lives.  And managing them, in all situations, is vital to our behavior and our relationships.


We’ve all had a situation where we’ve let our emotions get the best of us.  In fact, we would probably like to erase that moment from our memory.  And what most of us have learned is we probably don’t want the situation to occur again.  So how do we prevent one slip up from becoming a bad habit?  That’s where emotional intelligence comes into play. 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. Emotional intelligence consists of four skills:  self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. For more background, go to emotional intelligence.  This article, we’re focusing on self:  self-awareness and self-management. 

Bradberry, & Greaves (2009) in Emotional Intelligence 2.0 provide multiple strategies to help us maximize our self-awareness and self-management.  While this isn't the whole list, consider which of these strategies might positively impact your own emotional intelligence growth.  


Self-Awareness Strategies

Self-awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across situations.  Which strategies can you implement to increase self-awareness of your emotions?

  1. Observe the ripple effect from your emotions.  The more you understand how your emotions ripple outward, the better equipped you’ll be to choose the type of ripples you want to create.
  2. Feel your emotions physically.  One of the most effective ways to understand your emotions is to learn how to spot the physical changes that accompany your emotions.
  3. Know who and what pushes your buttons.  Having a clear understanding of who and what pushes your buttons makes situations less difficult because they come as less of a surprise.
  4. Stop and ask yourself why you do the things you doGet in the habit of asking yourself why some emotions bubble to the surface.
  5. Seek feedback Others’ views can be a real eye-opener by informing you how other people experience you.  By mustering the courage to seek how others view you, you can reach a level of self-awareness few people attain.

Self-Management Strategies

Self-management is the ability to control emotions and impulses and is dependent on your self-awareness. Which of these self-management strategies can help control your emotions before they get the best of you?

  1. Sleep on it.  Time helps you gain control of your emotions that you know would lead you in the wrong direction if you let them drive.
  2. Smile and laugh more.  When you’re stuck on a frustrating or distressing thought, forcing yourself to smile counteracts the negative emotional state.
  3. Set aside some time in your day for problem solving and a mental recharge. Taking a 15-minute time period each day to turn off your phone, get away from your computer, and take time to think is a great way to make sure your decisions aren’t muddled by your emotions.
  4. Take control of your self-talk.  By learning to control your self-talk, you can keep yourself focused on the right things and manage your emotions more effectively.
  5. Focus your attention on your freedoms rather than your limitations.  Focusing on restrictions is not only demoralizing, it encourages negative feelings to surface.  Focus your energy on being open-minded and flexible.

These strategies are straightforward and will help your awareness of yourself grow.  Some may be hard, but it’s usually when we challenge ourselves the most, we see the most growth.