We’ve all had situations where our emotions got the best of us, whether we’re sitting in traffic, dealing with a difficult driver, or arguing with a loved one. Often it’s because we didn’t realize what was happening until we were too far down the “emotional train” to change it. We say things we don’t mean and that we’ll later regret, because we haven’t cultivated emotional mastery. And when you don’t master your emotions/mood, you’re not able to identify and handle them until it’s too late.
Frank Outlaw stated, ”Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny." This starts with being mindful of ones emotional health. Emotions are complex states involving both physical and mental changes that effect our mood and behavior. Emotions are powerful. Your mood determines how you interact with people, how you deal with challenges, and how you spend your time. Whether or not you want to dive into a full-on mindfulness practice, the quality of mindfulness is necessary to mastering your emotional health. To be mindful is to observe what’s happening in the present moment, objectively.
In order to exert control over your emotional reactions, you have to first be aware of them. You have to be able to witness them without getting swept up in their energy. This is mindfulness. Just watching. Acknowledging that you’re feeling happy, sad, excited, or angry as opposed to getting caught up in being those emotions. When we are mindful of our emotions, we are able to choose our thoughts, words, and actions consciously. Emotions arise with big shifts in our brain and body chemistry that can propel us into thoughts, speech, and actions that further feed the energy of the emotion. When it’s a good-feeling emotion, like happiness, this isn’t a problem. But, when it’s an emotion that brings about suffering, such as anger or sadness, injecting some mindful wisdom can keep us balanced.
To be the master of your emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your moods, not just your emotions. And this can be tricky, because moods aren’t as noticeable as emotions. An emotional reaction is short-lasting but packs a harder punch. It’s typically in response to a specific circumstance, and we feel its spike immediately.
Moods, on the other hand, stretch out over hours, even days. It’s a tendency toward feeling positive or negative. A lens through which you’re likely to view all circumstances. If it’s a positive mood, you’ll likely experience happy emotions. If it’s a negative mood, you’ll likely experience sadness or anxiety. It can be harder to notice our moods right away, because there’s not an instant spike in feeling. And, there’s often not a single cause we can pinpoint.
Being mindfully aware of our moods, therefore, is even more important than being mindful of our emotions. If we’re not noticing the pattern of responses we’re having, we can’t do anything to shift our mood. It becomes a sort of quicksand we’re stuck in. Bringing mindfulness to our moods can empower us to exert energy in the opposite direction to slow and even halt its momentum. We can consciously choose to let go of negative thought loops. We can take actions that support a more positive mindset. If nothing else, at least acknowledging what we’re experiencing is just a mood, rather than getting lost in the emotions of it, can help minimize its impact.
Fortunately, anyone can become better at regulating their emotions and mood. Just like any other skill, managing your emotions requires practice and dedication. Here are a few helpful tools you can implement into your daily life to help you become the master of your mood.
1. Label Your Emotions
Put a name your emotions. Keep in mind you might feel a whole bunch of emotions at once--like anxious, frustrated, and impatient. Labeling how you feel can take a lot of the sting out of the emotion. It can also help you take careful note of how those feelings are likely to affect your decisions.
Consider the emotional filter you are looking at the world through. Make sure the way you are looking at a person or situation is authentic. Take a step back if you need to evaluate your perspective of things.
3. Engage In A Mind Booster
Now that may sound a bit ridiculous, but hear me out. When you find yourself focusing on the negative, instead try seeing at least one positive aspect of the person or situation.
-Call a trusted friend to give you a fresh set of eyes
-Take a walk in outside to clear your head
-Listen to uplifting music
These are just a few tools you can use to become the master of your moods. Managing your emotions is tough at times. And there will likely be a specific emotion--like anger--that sometimes gets the best of you. But the more time and attention you spend on regulating your emotions, the mentally stronger you'll become. You'll gain confidence in your ability to handle discomfort while also knowing that you can make healthy choices that shift your mood.