5 Emotional Control Techniques for a Better Life

5 Emotional Control Techniques for a Better Life
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

In your day to day life, things happen that affect you and are out of your control. The way you react to these problems determines your quality of life. So, one great way to deal with these complications is to use emotional control techniques. These techniques will help you feel more sure and competent in every moment and circumstance.

Antonio Damasio, the well-known Portuguese doctor and neurologist, reminds us in his books that the world of emotions was a subject of little interest to the scientific world until well into the twentieth century. Scientists already had the excellent work of William James. For many neurology and behavioral science specialists, that was more than enough. Damasio was the one who led the way into this field. He has tried to understand empirically how emotions intervene in the decisions that we make.

Feelings and the emotional world make up a sort of sophisticated mechanism that directly connects to our thoughts and behavior. It is very useful to understand these processes. If you can manage and control them, you can use them in your favor. It will help you shape your life to be how you want it. Not only that, but you will feel surer of yourself.

Let’s see how you can make this happen.

“Emotions and feelings aren’t a luxury, they’re our way of communicating our mental states to other people. But they’re also a guide for us to make decisions.”

-Antonio Damasio-

emotional control

Everyday emotional control techniques

Every decision, every thought, every step that you take in your day-to-day life is imbued with some type of emotion. Nothing human is innocuous. Everything has a reason, or reminds us of something. There are always ulterior motives or hidden fears. You can find the origin of all of this in a brain structure that is as amazing as it is complex. We are talking about the limbic system.

This region of your brain is responsible for a large part of who you are and what you do. Nevertheless, you don’t always let it bring out the best in you. Sometimes your emotions cloud your focus and your thoughts. You act or react unreasonably. You get in your own way or feel like everything is spiraling out of control.

To avoid or reduce these types of situations, there’s nothing better than appropriate emotional control techniques. Let’s look at some examples.

1. Control your thoughts

Cognitive-behavioral psychology usually has great suggestions for emotional control strategies. One thing that can be very helpful is to remember this simple tip:

  • You can’t radically change your emotions. However, if you improve your mental focus, you can regulate them.
  • If you find yourself controlled by fear, anxiety, or worry, you have to stop the flow of thoughts that feed negativity. You have to say “that’s enough.” Then, direct your thoughts to something more constructive and useful.
  • For example, my presentation tomorrow is going to be terrible, I am going to look like a fool⇔ I am well prepared for my presentation, I know my topic and I will enjoy sharing what I have spent so much time on with others.

2. Widen your focus

People tend to see the world with tunnel vision. We focus on one point and concentrate all our thoughts and emotions there. We forget how healthy it is to take a step back and see the world with greater perspective. Here we can air out ideas, distance ourselves from damaging people, situations, and habits.

So, every time you feel stuck, stressed, and uninspired, get some distance. Lift up your gaze and look at life with a wider perspective. The world, after all, is full of possibilities.

wider perspective

3. Deep breathing

In this blog, we talk a lot about deep breathing techniques. This is a simple and effective way to regulate and control your emotions. You can use it anytime you feel stuck or overwhelmed. To do it, all you need is to go to a calm and relaxed space. Then, follow these steps:

  • Sit up straight.
  • Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds. Try to send all the air to the abdominal area. The goal is to practice breathing with your diaphragm.
  • Hold your breath for 6 seconds.
  • Then, exhale through your mouth for 7 seconds.

Repeat the cycle several times. You will feel an immediate sense of calm.

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”


4. Visualization and mental trials

Another effective and useful technique for emotional control is visualization. You’ve certainly done this at some point. You anticipate all the possible things that could go wrong – failures, awkward encounters, neglect, etc. Your mind is an expert at imagining catastrophic situations. However, you don’t usually imagine how to resolve them if they were to happen. Your visualizations end up being a kind of continuous worry.

  • This is your responsibility. That’s why visualization is so useful. Visualize what you would do if your worst nightmare actually happened.
  • For example, you can imagine what you would do if you were fired from your job. You can also visualize what you would say in an argument with a coworker, or how you would react if your partner started to show less interest in you.

All of this practice helps you be prepared to react in an appropriate way (that is, if any of these things were to happen.)

5. Change and positive expectations

Life has cycles. Sometimes you have to renew certain dimensions of yourself. Especially that complex psychological hard drive that every human being has. Something that you have to remember is that you will have uninspiring phases. Moments when apathy and negative emotions stick to you like some strange, invisible rust.

When this happens, remember that it is normal. Motivation, desire, and positivity are dynamic and they need new inspiration in order not to get stuck. So, every time you feel negative and stuck, tell yourself that it’s time for a change.

When something stays the same for too long, it becomes stagnant. That’s why it’s important to challenge yourself in new ways. That helps you change your emotional flow. Do it with a sense of positive expectation. Trust in yourself, and trust that what will come will do you good and help you move forward. Find new inspiration, and give yourself an existential jumpstart. That is sure to enrich your life and make it more interesting…

Don’t hesitate to use these simple emotional control techniques. Why wait for a better life? 

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.