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When Your Emotions Are Running Away With You

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Steven Fernandez

  1. Observe your emotions running away with you.
    1. “I feel (insert emotion here) and it’s starting to overwhelm me.”
  2. Bring yourself back to “neutral” (where your emotions become manageable).
    1. For me, this is some kind of physical activity (even as light as walking or stretching).  I tend towards activities that are “in my head” (e.g. observing, analyzing, writing) so doing something that increases my body awareness will pull me back towards neutral.
  3. Break the activity you need to do (the one that your emotions are preventing you from doing) into very small steps.
    1. Start with the easiest step and complete it (so you can succeed immediately).
    2. Work your way through the steps in order of difficulty to build momentum.

Do you have a process for getting your emotions under control?  In what ways do you bring yourself back to “neutral” when you are overwhelmed?  Let us know what you think in the comments.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching April 10, 2009, 6:22 pm

    Hi Amanda — thanks for this post. One of the things I do is similar to the second thing you said, which is to notice how the emotion manifests in my body. If I’m feeling angry, for instance, that’s usually my lower back getting uncomfortably warm. When I look at it this way I realize that “anger” is just a name I give to that warmth, and that stops my mind from coming up with the kind of stories I think many of us end up spinning out when we’re feeling angry (“I’ve got to take revenge,” “this situation is unsafe,” and so on).

  • Barbara Swafford April 10, 2009, 8:10 pm

    Hi Amanda,

    Great question. When I feel “unwanted” emotions, my first question has now become “why?”. For me, it’s often because I’m tired. If that’s the case, I’ll make time to take a short power nap. I usually end up with a fresh attitude.

    I’ve also learned to communicate my emotions. If someone says something that hurts my feelings, I speak up and say so.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Give Your Readers What They Want

  • Amanda Linehan April 11, 2009, 10:55 am

    Hi Chris – I really like your suggestion to “feel” your emotion in your body. That’s something that many of us don’t notice because we are too busy “spinning out stories.” Just taking that moment to realize that your emotions don’t have to take you over every time you have one is a life saver. 🙂

    Hi Barbara – Thanks for your comment! I agree! It’s amazing how “short” I can feel when I’m tired (or simply haven’t been taking care of my body appropriately). Like Chris above, you’ve also mentioned how your body plays a role in emotions. Interesting.

  • Tess The Bold Life April 11, 2009, 12:29 pm

    I journal and get my feelings and thoughts on paper. I also will go out for a run. There’s always an alternative way of feeling that is better. The most important thing is feeling good. I want to stay there.

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..A Bold but Modest Millionaire

  • Amanda Linehan April 11, 2009, 10:03 pm

    Hi Tess – Physical activity does wonders for our emotions. It always seems to put me in a better place. 🙂

  • Tom Maurer | Simple and Spiritual April 12, 2009, 10:41 pm

    I like to write about what I’m feeling. Putting my emotions down on paper is somehow therapeutic. Then I tell myself to relax because the negativity will pass (it always does)

    Tom Maurer | Simple and Spiritual’s last blog post..The World Isn’t Out To Get You

  • Amanda Linehan April 13, 2009, 7:07 pm

    Hi Tom – Oh yes, definitely. 🙂 Thanks for mentioning “writing.” It’s a great way to sort out and untangle your feelings – I use it a lot when I start to feel overwhelmed. Negative emotions are difficult because they feel so strong in the moment, but you are right…they always pass. Thanks for your comment!

  • Karen Chaffee April 14, 2009, 3:36 pm

    Hello Amanda

    Like you, when I feel my emotions running toward “out-of-control mode,” I take the time to do something physical: clean the kitchen, walk for a few minutes, stretch.

    The focus on the physical seems to take the building pressure off the mind.

  • Amanda Linehan April 14, 2009, 8:31 pm

    Hi Karen – Thanks for your comment 🙂 I think you used the right word when you said “pressure.” When our emotions get out of control it does feel as if we might explode. Giving your mind a rest lets some of that pressure out!

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