Psychology

How to Keep Your Cool and Achieve Emotional Balance

Written by Joe Wilner

We can experience a whirlwind of emotions ranging from thrilling to devastating, and if we’re not prepared to deal with them, emotions can lead us to do some very irrational things.

If you’ve ever heard the saying, “I was so mad I couldn’t think straight,” you have an idea of the importance of emotional balance. We tend to think less clearly and thoroughly when we are highly emotional.

how_to_keep_your_coolAny emotional extreme can lead us to make hasty decisions we might later regret. Even when emotions are positive our behavior can be erratic and unpredictable. We want to learn how to balance our state of mind to most effectively deal with others and certain situations that trigger us.

Without emotional balance we are like a pendulum hanging and swinging back and forth, not able to find a sturdy or fixed position with which to make decisions.

A good starting place to achieving emotional balance is learning what triggers our emotions in the first place, and then finding ways to deal with these emotional swings that may occur.

What are your triggers?

We all have pet-peeves, things that get under our skin, and certain issues that just set us off. The awareness of these triggers is a crucial starting place to achieving emotional balance. Being prepared and ready to deal with frustration and irritation helps us intervene before our emotions get the best of us.

Think about a situation that triggers you. What are you doing? Are you with anybody specific or at a certain place? How does this trigger make you feel?

Techniques to keep yourself in balance

Centering

When we get really emotional this leads to strong physical and mental effects. Our heart rate increases, body temperature rises, and breathing becomes rapid and shallow. We may have racing thoughts and begin thinking in a way that exacerbates our emotional experience.

Learning to settle the physical response and the thoughts that are accompanying them can really help to maintain balance.

Here are five steps to center your state of mind and regain balance.

  1. Pause
  2. Slowly breathe in and picture a calming person, place, or object in your mind.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth breathing out the negative feeling.
  4. Continue deep breathing and as you inhale imagine taking in the calming peaceful image, and breathing out the negative feelings and thoughts.
  5. Continue breathing in and out at least 10 times, and incorporate some stretching and muscle relaxation by rolling your shoulders and stretching your neck from side to side and front to back.

Re-framing

Another way to deal with the flood of disturbing thoughts that can accompany emotional extremes is to re-frame the way we are thinking and interpreting the situation. This requires that we alter some the thoughts and beliefs that are taking place.

Try these techniques to help re-frame the thoughts that may be triggering you.

What would you tell in friend in the same situation?

A great technique is to consider what you would tell a friend in the same situation. If you are considering someone you care about, wouldn’t you give them positive uplifting advice? Of course you would! You would offer them support and encouragement to deal with their struggle.

Often we are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Maybe you’re saying critical and belittling comments to yourself and making the situation more difficult to handle. If you wouldn’t tell a friend these things, why would you tell yourself?

Learning from past experience

In retrospect we would probably deal with many situations differently. Fortunately learning from our past experience offers a great technique to help change troubling perspectives. Consider how you have handled a similar situation in the past. Did it work out well? What did you learn from it?

Reviewing a similar situation from the past helps us to understand what we need to do to get the results we desire. This can be a reminder that some of our worries may be exaggerated and we have been able to successfully deal with a similar situation before. Or, it may just be a chance to pause before acting to make sure we don’t impulsively make an unhealthy choice.

Do a reality check

This is where we consider if we may be overreacting and exaggerating what is taking place. We may tend to catastrophize and think of the worst possible scenario, or we might using restrictive words like always, must, and never.

Have you ever said, “This always happens to me!” Or, “I never have any luck!”

These types of statements can really amp up the emotional distress, and more often than not, are major exaggerations.

Instead, we want to ask some different questions. Ask yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen, or what do I want from this situation?” “Is there a positive way I can look at this that I’m overlooking?”

These type of questions help change our focus from feeling out of control to having a chance to determine how we want to feel and making changes that help us get our needs met.

When we experience extreme emotions it can put us off balance and lead to some unintended behavior and consequences. These tips and techniques can help us to keep things in perspective and deal with matters more effectively. When we are triggered we can maintain self-control and begin reaping the benefits of healthy relationships, more effective communication, and unwavering poise and confidence.

About the author

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is life-transition coach and writes at Shake off the Grind where he helps people thrive when they're up and survive when they're down. He is also the creator of the Becoming Unstoppable. A twelve week ecourse to help you overcome and achieve anything.