I frequently hear individuals express their seeming inability to control their reactions to their feelings. They can be intense feelings of anger or of love and they feel compelled to act upon them, often to their own detriment. But here is the truth – you don’t have to act the way you feel.
You see, we all experience disappointment, sadness, exhilaration, and a host of other emotions. Yet, we don’t have to flood our relationships or social interactions with our state of being. We have the ability to control our reactions.
One effective means of self-regulation that has grown in popularity in recent years is called “self-distancing.” Using this technique, the individual imagines that they have more than one self. No, this is not some kind of split-personality thing, but is a strategy to allow ourselves to take a more objective look from outside our emotional state. This objective self might reason through our emotional experience on paper, out loud, or even in our own thoughts. But it does so from outside the intensity of our feelings.
One way to think of this is to imagine that you have a friend who has just been fired from a job, fallen head over heels in love with the “perfect” person, or has experienced some other emotionally intense event that they feel a need to immediately respond to. What would you say to them? You, being outside their experience, have a more clear-headed perspective with which to speak into their situation. This objective you is who you need to speak into your own emotionally charged experiences.
Try this technique and see if you might begin to react in healthier ways. You will benefit – as will those around you.