They exist without our say-so. They come in like a wrecking ball and totally disrupt what would otherwise be a very intelligent and well-thought-out response. When we lose something, get tired, experience extra stress at work due to pressures also unknown to us, we live on their highs and lows and yet we cannot seem to do anything to fix them. These emotions, as it turns out, are ours and we had better get accustomed to them in our life, otherwise, we will end up spending the rest of our days wanting to rid a part of ourselves that is very necessary.
Emotions are necessary, and often when we think of emotions that get our attention by the destruction they cause. Often it is when we feel hurt, frustrated, sad, guilty, shameful, and angry, even if we experience too much happiness. Yes, any one emotion lived out to its extreme will cause disruption in life. Here are some rules to follow to manage emotions:
1. Practice listening to what your mind is telling you. Notice your thoughts, your interpretations, and judgments of things; these are what get your attention and either come from an emotion or are the result of an emotion causing you to react. Your mind knows things you will never be consciously aware of. So, when triggered, it isn't about stopping the emotion or thought, but learning what to do when they show up. What are these thoughts and emotions trying to get me to do?
2. You've heard this before, but give it two seconds before you do anything. I am saying that you can do whatever you feel like doing, but give it two seconds before you do. There may still be destructive behaviors due to emotions, but that little bit of time allows the higher portions of the brain to kick in with their logic. The lower parts, the midbrain, limbic system, amygdala, and so on, are all about reaction. So, when you are triggered, the quicker you respond, the more likely it is a lower-level response.
3. Do not try to fix your thoughts or what the thoughts tell you. Instead, allow them to come to you and allow them to pass. You do not need to remedy the content of the thoughts. All you have to do is notice they exist, they are captivating, and let them go by. This, too, shall pass. So let it.
4. Your thoughts do not define you. You have thoughts, but they do not represent the total you. You are not the content of your thoughts nor are you a bad person for having bad thoughts. You have a brain that releases thoughts, and then you judge or hold on to them. You judge yourself for having them and never pay attention to what they say or what you are really thinking. Be honest with yourself, notice the thoughts as they really are, and imagine they pass by on unicorns (or clouds, anything really).
5. Beliefs. Beliefs are the foundation of emotions and thoughts. Beliefs are what we tell ourselves about ourselves and what we make every decision in service to. Beliefs need to be identified to see if they still hold up. These beliefs were often formed early in childhood and never addressed again (such as self-worth). If these beliefs aren't true, then act as though what you believe is true. If you are enough, then make the decisions as someone who is enough would make.
These are some ideas to get you started, but here is a video to help:
It's a great metaphor.
Emotions come from thoughts triggered by beliefs. We can notice this, and instead of participating in this constant routine of turmoil, we can step back and watch ourselves notice thoughts. Notice you notice these thoughts, and the emotions can subside as well.