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4 Ways to Control Your Emotions in Tense Moments

Controlling your emotions

The ability to recognize, own, and shape your own emotions is the master skill for deepening intimacy with loved ones, magnifying influence in the workplace, and amplifying our ability to turn ideas into results.

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4 Ways to Control Your Emotions in Tense Moments

4 Ways to Control Your Emotions in Tense Moments

https://hbr.org/2016/12/4-ways-to-control-your-emotions-in-tense-moments

hbr.org

5

Key Ideas

Own the emotion

You can’t change an emotion you don’t own.

Accept responsibility for its existence.  Because an external event always precedes your experience of an emotion, it’s easy to assume that the event caused it. But as long as you believe it was externally caused, you are going to be a victim to your emotions.

Name the story

Emotions are the result of both what happens, and of the story you tell yourself about what happened.

  • A victim story: it absolves you of your responsibility for what happened.
  • A villain story: it exaggerates the faults of others and makes them responsible for what happened.
  • A helpless story: it convinces you that any course of action is pointless.

Challenge the story

You can take control of your emotions by asking yourself questions that provoke you out of your victim, villain, and helpless stories.

For example, transform yourself from victim into an actor, by asking: "What am I pretending not to know about my role in this situation?”

Find your primal story

Most people have habitual stories they tell in predictable circumstances as well. 

Early life experiences that we perceived at the time to be threats to our safety and worth become encoded in our potent memories.

Reciting a specific script in moments of emotional provocation (e.g. “This can’t hurt me”) weakens trauma-induced reaction that is not relevant in the present moment.

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