The basic definition of self-control, according to psychologists, is “the ability to manage one’s impulses, emotions, and behaviors to achieve long-term goals.” Lacking self-control, especially when it comes to controlling emotions (from intense to merely mildly annoying) however, is more common than you think and a lot of people face this problem on a daily basis. The good news is that you can learn how to control your emotions easily because self-control is one of the most important skills you can ever teach yourself.
According to a recent study, a smile can definitely go a mile. Smiling, even when you don’t feel like it at all, can trick your brain into believing you are happy. It also goes without saying that smiling will make you look more attractive in the eyes of others because nobody is more beautiful than when they smile!
Learning how to control your breath is one of the most vital lessons you can learn. It might be easier said than done but in the words of the spiritual teacher Eckart Tolle, the key to inner transformation is living in the present moment. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath when you are feeling overwhelmed. Tolle says that when you are conscious of your breath, you are totally present and it stops your mind from racing.
As the old proverb goes, a letter does not blush. Journaling is a powerful self exploration tool that can become your best friend and most trustworthy confidant if you decide to commit to it. Whenever you are experiencing unwanted emotions, write them all down in your journal, and let it work its magic. You will be able to understand yourself at a much deeper level without ever feeling judged or misunderstood by your silent but eternally loyal friend.
4. Replace negative habits with positive ones.
You can easily replace a negative habit with its positive alternative. For instance, if you feel like munching on sweets when you experience difficult emotions, you can hit the gym and sweat the stress away. Or, if you feel like spending money on unnecessary stuff, go for a long walk in nature where you won’t have the opportunity to spend your hard-earned cash on mindless consumption.
5. Create a routine that works for you.
Perhaps routine isn’t the most trendy and glamorous word in the modern lexicon but it is absolutely crucial for your self-care and especially when it comes to controlling your emotions and the wild mood swings of modern life. Routines promote mental well-being by helping us develop positive daily habits. For example, commit yourself to going for a daily evening walk or limit your online activity to 30 minutes a day and you will see yourself feeling better instantly.
To create a sustainable and enjoyable routine, you can start getting into the habit of writing to-do lists. Depending upon the environment in which you find yourself, everything in life is fleeting and elusive. That’s why it is not always enough to have good intentions.
On the contrary, it is very important to remind yourself of what your goals are because otherwise it is very easy to stop seeing the forest beyond the trees, as this study demonstrates. Keeping track of what you need to do is very helpful if you want to stay grounded and in control of your emotions.
7. Give yourself some “me time.”
Often we are our own harshest critics and while we know we should always be kind to others, we shouldn’t forget the importance of being kind and forgiving to ourselves. After all, kindness is a skill too! Our authentic power comes from accepting ourselves as we are.
The best way to do that is to let go of everything, make some time for yourself, and simply relax. Do something that brings you genuine joy, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, drawing, singing, or dancing like nobody in the world is watching you.
8. Teach yourself how to meditate.
Finally, meditation is something everyone can master to become eternally Zen with a little bit of effort. Practiced in numerous spiritual traditions, it is a method of training your mind to become more aware of itself. The famous Twin Peaks director, David Lynch, has been meditating twice a day, every day since 1973. He says it has given him “effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within.”