Why Your Emotions Go Out Of Control

Emotions are universal, yet we can choose what feelings we have from a wide variety of sources, and each person reacts to different stimuli. For example, people who are introverted have low feelings of anxiety, and people with a lot of feelings are more extroverted, so you have to know your own unique mix for optimal success.

In recent years I have published about why emotion goes out of control, and I have given presentations at conferences in the United States and abroad. I have given workshops at both prestigious schools (Cornell and Duke) as well as schools that most people can’t even name (Syracuse University, North Carolina State University).

You might say I have devoted my life to these topics because they are so crucial to me, and yet I have done it in an environment that allows me to have fun, express my emotions, and have a good time at the same time! So I guess that is an answer…

How To Deal With All That Shit

When I first started teaching people how to deal with the emotions in their lives, they mostly had a knee-jerk reaction of throwing their arms up and saying, “Oh God, I don’t have any feelings, that’s so unfair! What kind of emotional garbage is that?” This is a totally understandable reaction because it’s something we don’t fully understand with our own emotions. I have worked with students who have a lot of emotional issues to deal with (emotionally addicted clients, borderline personality, etc.), and it was really interesting to see how each person reacted differently to something that is “so unfair” to them.

My first piece of advice was to think about the emotion and then think about how you feel right now. The reason you feel like such a moron right now is because you are acting on a bad choice (I have had clients tell me if they don’t work through an issue, they start to feel bad about themselves). The key is to take the choice apart and look at the whole situation. That way you can have a positive emotion even if you are in a negative situation.

You will notice in my examples in the past two posts how I try to use emotion to work on issues. One example will be showing clients that sometimes it’s okay to lose a competitive game with someone else if the loss will cause them to “get out of the emotional hole” they are caught in. This is a great example of using your emotions for your benefit rather than using them for your own destruction. So you are in a situation where you need to work your way out of this emotional hole, but it may not work out the way you want. One way to “get out of the hole” is to “win” by making the opposite decision (if you need help with this, I highly recommend you read my article “Emotional Healing” ).

Another example is my presentation on how to deal with anger using a list of rules. Instead of using an argument, it is a list of emotions that are the cause of anger and an action plan that you can use to get back to a happier state (you may notice it’s about anger, but it’s so much more than that).

But I’m the kind of person that needs to read and do more than just hear me talk about my emotional issues, so I asked my colleague, Dr. Richard Ryan, to come up with a list of tips to help us deal with our emotions:

For some reason, most people tend to avoid doing anything related to self-care and positive psychology, and yet, being self-care does not automatically put us in the negative category.