THE BLOG
01/12/2013 11:35 am ET | Updated Mar 14, 2013

Be the Master of Your Emotions

Do you find that at times your emotions get the best of you? What do you usually do when you feel that you're on the brink of a "meltdown"? Maybe you turn to someone else to console you, or maybe you self-medicate with drugs, alcohol or something less obvious like overwork. Perhaps at some point, these things no longer do the job and you're unable to stay on your game because you're too overwhelmed by emotions. If this is the case, maybe it's time to learn how to bring the emotions themselves under your own control.

The good news is it's never too late to start learning some skills to nurture yourself when you're feeling under the gun or overly emotional. When you're feeling distressed and too consumed by a problem, it can be quite difficult to come up with a solution to make things better -- or, at the very least, get yourself feeling better about things. For those times, it can be extremely helpful to make a list that can become your own custom "toolbox" of ways to help yourself that you know will work for you.

During those times, you might want to try "activating your senses" as sources of comfort. For example, you can tap into your sense of touch by wrapping yourself up in a comfy blanket, cuddling with a pet, or snuggling up with a large body pillow and enjoy the feeling of being embraced. Maybe you can listen to a favorite song or the sounds of nature, focusing on the positive feelings you associate with those sounds, or treat yourself to a soothing cup of tea to provide yourself feelings of warmth and comfort. As you do this, focus on taking in the different smells and savoring each sip. Even lighting a candle with a calming aroma can indulge your senses, which can help bring you to a place that feels more stable, grounded, and secure.

Another effective strategy is to imagine that you're in a completely safe place such as a beach, a lake, or somewhere else that perhaps exists only on your imagination. Imagine in detail what it's like to be in this safe, calm place. Focus on what you can see, hear, and feel. As you take in this image, allow your stress to fade away as the feelings of calm arise. Once you have created this place in your mind, it's a place you can easily return to whenever you'd like a feeling of calm or peace.

Your emotions don't have to get in your way! That's the best news. The trick is to realize that you can gain mastery over your emotions rather than it being the other way around. As you discover more of your own techniques to sooth yourself effectively, add them to your list. Then put them to work when you need them the most.

For more ideas on how to gain mastery over any aspect of your life that you'd like to work on, check out my new book Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential.

For more by Michael S. Broder, Ph.D., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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