HOW TO: Stop Your Emotions from Controlling You
Reposted from the blog of Dr. Norman Rosenthal, author of TRANSCENDENCE.
Science has now shown that certain parts of our brain specialize in processing emotional information; these parts are somewhat distinct from those responsible for intellect. Further, the different regions may not always work in concert; we may experience feelings and not understand why. Modern neuroscience has validated classical analytic theories about the power of unconscious feelings to drive our actions, sometimes without ever surfacing into our awareness.
Pascal famously said that “the heart has a reason that reason cannot know,” anticipating both Freud and those modern neuroscientists who have demonstrated the existence of unconscious feelings. But Pascal underestimated the power of the human intellect to comprehend mysterious and elusive things, feelings included. Now that thousands of scientists are focusing their intellect on the mysteries of emotion, reason is finally starting to comprehend the reasons of the heart.
Human beings have highly developed reasoning centers housed in the neocortex (the most recently evolved part of the brain), which offer the ability to experience complex emotions, such as: love, vengeance and anger. But the capacity to experience these complex emotions profoundly act on them rationally and in a measured way is a skill worth developing – one that requires patience, practice, contemplation and reflection.
Nine strategies for helping to stop your emotions from controlling you:
1) Become a good judge of your own mood: Just as you weigh yourself when you begin a diet, then track your weight as you progress, so you should learn to track your mood.
2) Exercise in moderation
3) Take control of those aspects of your life that you can: Just knowing that you have some ability to improve your life can help pacify intense emotions. Even if you choose to stay in difficult situations, such as a bad marriage or job, you have taken some steps to regain control.
4) Tackle stress by practicing relaxation, meditation and yoga
5) Seek out social support systems
6) Selectively consider appropriate herbs, nutrients and supplements
7) Attend to your sleep and stay rested
8) Alter your environmental light, especially when days are short and dark, which can be conducive to depression.
9) Avoid alcohol and beware of drugs, substances that can give you the illusion of control in the short run, but aggravate the situation down the line.
Finally, enjoy and appreciate your feelings. It is by recognizing and thinking deeply about our emotions that we are able to reach the most important decisions of our lives.