10 Tips to Manage Strong Emotions

  1. Notice how you defend against vulnerable emotions.

When humans are sad, hurt, or disappointed, we often find it hard to tolerate those feelings…so we get angry. We smack our kid, or blame our partner, or say something mean about our colleague. Anger is a defense, the body’s response to “fight or flight”. Get in touch with the fear or sadness under it, and the anger melts away.

  1. Resist the urge to act on your feelings.

When you URGENTLY need to take action, that means you’re in fight or flight. Stop and breathe. Resist acting. Yelling at your child is never a good solution, because your child gets defensive and less cooperative. (When your child feels worse, he acts worse.) If leaving your partner or quitting your job is a good solution, it will still look good tomorrow when you’re calm.

  1. Notice that while the feelings are real, the conclusions we draw from them in the heat of the moment are not necessarily true:

My partner doesn’t love me. My boss will never reward my hard work. My child will be a criminal.

  1. Notice that when you just sit with your emotions,

…breathing, tolerating them, letting them sweep through you…they begin to evaporate. That’s how you heal old wounds and dissolve old baggage, so you don’t get overrun by emotion so easily.

  1. Instead of acting on your feelings, use them as information

…to motivate you to solve that recurring problem once you’re calm again. When you’re upset, the solution always seems to be forcing your child to do what you want. But when you’re calm, you can see that a more effective solution may be to start earlier on the bedtime routine or to begin getting more sleep yourself.

  1. Remember that when you’ve been hijacked by the “fight, flight or freeze” response, it’s never a good time to work through a difficult issue.

When things heat up, always start by restoring a feeling of safety to help everyone calm down. Then, explore win/win solutions that meet everyone’s needs, and make structural changes to avoid a repeat scenario.

You’re the role model for your child on how to regulate emotions. Your example is what teaches your child that emotions are just part of being human, and can be managed. Listen to them, but don’t give them more power than they deserve. They’re only feelings, after all.

Find the original article here.

Dr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How To Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends For Life and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. Find her online at AhaParenting.com

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