Sarah Boyd


The 9 most powerful questions to get perspective in a difficult situation

Emotion Solution: How To Be In Control Of Your Emotions

Managing your emotions is one of the most difficult parts of life.  Emotions make our life richer, but can also hinder our personal progress. I’ve had times in my life where my emotions have hindered me from moving forward.

(Image credit @jshnaaa)

(Image credit @jshnaaa)

So I wanted to share some of the most useful tools for moving past emotional overwhelm from a neuroscience perspective.

There are two main parts of the brain to consider when we are talking about regulating our emotions:

1. AMYGDALA: this is the emotional centre of the brain, that controls our fight, flight or freeze response. It floods our body with stress hormones & is the accelerator of emotions.

2. RIGHT VENTROLATERAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX: this is a small part of the brain which is activated during self control, delayed gratification, pain regulation & emotional regulation. It is consider the brains braking system for our emotions.

When it comes to emotional regulation we can either use strategies that accelerate our emotional state leading to a flood of stress hormones in our body, or we can use strategies that put the brakes on our emotional state and slow it down.


How To Accelerate Your Emotional State

1 Express
 Venting your emotions can obviously have damaging effects on other people and your relationship with them.

Being overly expressive of your emotions for a long period of time around a situation has also been found to activate the amygdala and therefore increase the stress hormones in your body.

2 Suppress
 Hiding your emotions from others and even yourself may appear like a successful emotional regulation, but the research shows different.

Suppressors blood pressure goes up significantly (showing the flood of stress hormones into their system). Research has also show that this causes the blood pressure of others around them to go up.

3 Obsess
 Continually going over the situation in your mind over and over again also activates the amygdala. Even if this is a memory, the brain experiences the emotions as if they were currently happening.


How To Put The Brakes On Your Emotional State

1 Name it
Research has found that being able to articulate and label what emotion you are experiencing in 1-2 words lights up the braking system in your brain.

It seems like a simple strategy, but taking a breath and reflecting back to yourself “I’m feeling……” calms your emotions down.

2 Notice it
 This is having the self awareness to be aware of your feelings and understand why you might be feeling this way.

Being able to journal your feelings down, or have short conversation about them to someone close, with the goal of understanding yourself a little bit better, also puts the brakes on your emotional reaction.

3 Reframe it
 This is the most effective strategy at slowing down your emotional response. Reframing, otherwise known as reappraisal, is about changing the meaning of the situation or seeing it from another perspective.

You can do this by asking questions like:

“What’s the good in the bad?”

“What’s interesting about this situation?”

“What positive learnings can I take from this situation?”


Next time you find yourself in a situation where your emotions are getting the better of you; rather than express, suppress or obsess; try label, notice & reappraise & notice the difference to your emotional state.

emotion-solution: how to be in control of your emotions

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The 9 most powerful questions to get perspective in a difficult situation.