Thoughts and emotions are like snowballs; if you don’t stop them from rolling down a hill, they get bigger. If you’re upset, but you don’t find the cause or solution, and leave it lingering instead, then it will keep getting bigger and bigger until it smacks you in the face, hard. However, if you stop the snowball, you can stop the negative emotion or thought. But snowballs aren’t all bad. Sometimes they can be good, like when you’re with a really good friend, and you tell an inside joke and you both start laughing. You’re bouncing off of each other’s energy and happiness, and you can’t stop laughing. That’s also the snowball effect.
It might be hard at first, but one way to control your thoughts and emotions is by trying to become more self-aware of them. To really try to identify why you’re feeling a certain way, and really be in the mindset of ‘Okay, so I’m feeling this way, why am I feeling like this?’ Once you’ve answered that, you can move on to asking yourself ‘What can I do to make myself feel better/calm myself down?’ I know that for me this was really hard at first, and still sometimes is, but I got into the routine of doing this and I’ve definitely gotten better at it.
I first learned about trying to be aware of my emotions in a workshop called ‘How DO You Feel?’ It taught us to become more self-aware of our emotions to help us with our ‘How do you Feel’ survey that we complete every morning, so we can be more efficient with really dissecting our emotions, and trying to find good words to describe them.
In the workshops, we discussed the phrase: “Name it to tame it.” This phrase illustrates that if you can perfectly name your emotion, then it will be easier to tame that emotion. For example: if the only words you have to describe your emotions are angry or sad, but you’re actually feeling more anxious, it’s good to be able to really tell exactly how you’re feeling. Being able to name your exact emotions helps you to become more emotionally intelligent.
This graph, like it says at the top, was a study conducted at UCLA that uses fMRI to look at participant's brains as they named their emotions. Along the X-axis is the cortex - or thinking brain - activity. Along the Y-axis is the amygdala - or emotions centre - activity. As the participants named their emotions, their amygdala activity went down as their cortex activity went up, which shows that naming your emotions really gets you thinking.
Another way I like to control my thoughts and emotions is doing things I love. Like for example, I really love TaeKwon-Do and it’s a really good way for me to calm down and relax. I’m aware this sounds strange, as it is a sport where I kick things, but it really helps me. Exercise also helps to get blood flowing to your brain, which sparks you thinking and sharpens your senses.
One more way I can control my thoughts and emotions is to journal, or write about how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking, almost like the paper and pen are my therapist, I can tell them anything. Every night before bed, I write about my day. I learned this practice from my aunt. Writing helps me take a weight off my chest.
As a quick recap; some ways I like to control my thoughts and emotions are: Naming them, this helps to distance yourself from them. Once you have named exactly how you are feeling, the feeling sort of goes away. The second is doing something you love, this calms and relaxes you. The final one is to write or journal about your day. Kind of like naming them, once you put your emotions on paper, they go away.
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