What is emotional self management? (+ tips for managing emotions)

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Emotional self-management is exactly what it sounds like:

It means being able to manage your emotions and to be aware of the impact of your emotions on other people. 

As a concept it’s straightforward, but let’s really dive into what it is about and how you can best manage your emotions.

Here is what emotional self-management is and the tips you can take on board to best manage your emotions.

Emotional self-management explained

Self-management over anything means you take total control of that thing.

In other words, you are in charge and responsible. 

Now, when it comes to emotions, this means your emotions don’t control you. Instead, you control them!

You could say that emotional self-management is a form of mastery over your emotions.

In practice, this could look like being able to control your impulse behaviors in a way that’s healthy.

It can mean having a handle on the way you react to situations…. 

…And not feeling like you react in a way that’s out of your control before thinking ‘oh no, what have I done’.

You see, someone who has good emotional self-management is more likely to be able to think before they react, and then react in a way that they won’t later regret.

I think I speak for everyone when I say, we all want to have a good level of emotional self-management

After all, no one wants to be known for being unable to deal with situations in a healthy way, and for getting wound up at the smallest thing.

It’s definitely something that I constantly strive towards.

And it’s a work in progress for me!

I’ve been that person who had blown up at little things, and I’ve said some things I’ve regretted. 

I even once told someone very close to me that I hate them, which came out in a fit of anger and was misplaced! 

It caused a lot of trauma and a rift between us. I still regret it.

Truth is, feeling like you don’t have good emotional self-management can cause a lot of stress in your life, so it’s worth understanding what it really is and learning the tips to deal with your emotions… 

More examples of emotional self-management 

While we think of anger and frustration as the two main indications that a person might not have a good grasp on their emotions, they are not the only indications.

You can tell if you have good emotional self-management if you think about whether you follow through on your commitments, take initiative and adapt to changes.

You see, emotional management plays a role with all of these things as our emotions simply can get the best of us and mean that they sabotage us being able to do the things we say we want to do.

I’ve had this happen before.

For example, I almost talked myself out of a new hobby because of fear. 

I was thinking about it for some time, but then I started feeling anxious about the fact I might be rubbish and people might wonder why I even bothered trying to do it.

I had a lot of unexplained, irrational fear.

So what did I do? Ultimately, I sat down with myself and journaled these thoughts out which helped me realize that they were irrational.

Simply put, I got a hold of my emotions and didn’t let them control me in this instance…

…But they could have very easily if I didn’t address them.

As for adapting to change, if we don’t have emotional self-management then we can find ourselves getting overwhelmed by any changes.

Again, this has totally been me.

I’ve found myself to be a crumbling mess at changes in my life – be they small or large.

No word of a lie, I’ve felt like I’ve had no control over my emotions during times of change.

But if you have the tools, it doesn’t have to be like this!

You see, we have a choice to bring a different perspective to experiences.

What’s more, HelpGuide.org, a non-profit that’s dedicated to mental health, explains that you can manage your emotions and improve your emotional intelligence as a result. 

They explain that being able to connect with your emotions is key to understanding how your emotions ultimately affect your responses.

Getting clear on your emotional self-management 

Be honest with yourself: what is your emotional self-management like?

As in, are you someone who ‘blows up’ easily when someone winds you up? Are you likely to shout and say things you regret? 

Or do you take the time to think before you speak?

Truth is, I can be both. Maybe it’s the same for you too…  

Now, if you’d like to consistently be someone who thinks before they speak, it takes work! 

It takes getting conscious and aware about emotional self-management. 

The good news?

The fact you’re reading this tells me that you’re taking positive action to get a handle on your emotions.

Give yourself a pat on the back!

You see, it takes courage to admit to the fact we have things to learn, and need to change the way we deal with things.

Don’t focus on the negative but instead see it as a positive that you’re taking the steps to understand emotional self-management. 

HelpGuide.org has created a series of questions to help you think about what your emotional self-management is like.

I suggest taking out your journal and writing them down to help you get clarity.

They include:

“Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?

“Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach, throat, or chest?

“Do you experience individual feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?

“Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?

“Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?”

In response to these questions they explain: 

“If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, you may have “turned down” or “turned off” your emotions. In order to build emotional intelligence (EQ)—and become emotionally healthy—you must reconnect to your core emotions, accept them, and become comfortable with them.”

What’s more, you could turn your attention to better understanding your values to help you regulate your emotions. 

I found this free checklist by Jeanette Brown incredibly helpful when it came to getting clear about what matters to me.

It allowed me to realize that being empathetic is important to me, so I came to terms with the fact I don’t want to shout at the smallest inconvenience!

Instead, I realized it was important that I was kind and calm – even if I felt irritated or frustrated.

Tips for managing emotions 

Mindfulness is the first tool you should look to if you want to reconnect with your emotions and become comfortable with them.

Now, mindfulness might mean many things.

It could look like meditating, doing yoga or breathwork; it might be by taking regular breaks and checking in with how you’re feeling; it might be walking in nature without any distractions like headphones.

Mindfulness starts with taking a deep breath and anchoring down in the present moment.

You see, a deep breath allows us to come back into our bodies and to get out of our heads.

It’s such a simple but powerful tool to have up your sleeve.

Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by a situation and feeling like you want to shout and scream, turn to your breath. 

Allow yourself to take a few deep breaths and see how you feel.

In an instance, it will regulate your nervous system and calm you down.

In my experience, it’s helped me a lot when it comes to dealing with my emotions.

Try it! It will naturally allow you to feel like you’re in control of your emotions. 

Now, another tool to have up your sleeve is acceptance.

It means regulating your emotions and not repressing them.

Rather than trying to change your emotion and getting and trying to deny the fact you’re feeling and experiencing them, accept them.

This doesn’t mean you have to let them manifest, such as allowing anger to rise to the surface.

But instead it means you acknowledge its existence.

For example, in your head you could think ‘I’m feeling angry right now’.

However, here’s the thing:

You decide not to act on that feeling and let it pass.

I sometimes like to imagine the emotion floating away in a balloon.

It might sound random, but hear me out:

If I have a surge of anger and don’t want it to manifest, I imagine transferring it to a balloon outside of me and letting it go.

I use my imagination to think of it floating up into the sky and out of sight.

As I say, it sounds pretty random but it works for me!

You could try using this visualization or something similar that works for you.

What’s more, have fun with the process! It’s a chance to see how powerful your mind’s-eye is!

The importance of self-care in managing your emotions

If you feel like regularly have outbursts or don’t cope with change well, it could point to the fact you’re slightly disconnected from yourself.

It might suggest that you need to focus on yourself a bit more than you have been.

In other words, you might need to introduce some more self-care into your life.

In my experience, I always find that my emotions are ‘all over the shop’, so to speak, when I’m not very focused on myself.

I’m usually the most out of balance when I’ve been spending too much time working or invested in social obligations – and not enough time on myself.

So, these days, when I find myself feeling agitated easily and overwhelmed by situations, I take it as a cue to up my self-care.

For me, self-care looks like:

  • Having a digital detox and not using my phone for a few days
  • Taking a bath with epsom salts 
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Dancing around my room

At the core of self-care is coming back to myself and doing whatever it is I please, without needing permission from anyone else.

Self-care is pure empowerment. 

I recommend making self-care something you think about regularly, but specifically when you notice that your emotions are controlling you… 

…Rather than feeling like you’re controlling them!

You see, it’s little things we can do to get a level of control.

Why you should keep a mood journal

You might have heard of keeping a regular journey, but have you heard of a mood journal?

As you might expect, this sort of journal is specifically for your moods.

Now, I don’t mean writing just one word down in it each day, such as ‘grumpy’…

…Instead, this sort of journal will be for you to unpack a mood you’ve experienced in all of the detail you need to, so you can better understand why you were feeling it.

For example, just recently in my mood journal I wrote down ‘agitated’ before filling up pages where I got to the bottom of this emotion.

I’m not kidding, I literally filled up five pages exploring this thought.

While doing this, I realized that I felt agitated because I was feeling triggered by the way something was said to me.

Plus, I also realized that I was agitated because I was under a lot of pressure with commitments and I felt like this person didn’t understand all that I had going on.

The process offered me a lot of clarity.

But had I not unpicked this thought in my mood journal, I would have been none the wiser and just left feeling agitated without a real explanation.

What does this mean for you?

Well, I personally think it’s a great habit to write in a mood journal daily in order for you to have the greatest amount of clarity on your emotions, but sometimes life happens…

…And we don’t get around to sitting down and journaling.

So don’t be super hard on yourself if you don’t journal day in, day out but just try your best to make the time when you can.

The more you do it, the more you’ll be able to map your thoughts and to notice any patterns with your emotions! 

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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