A huge misconception exists across both the professional world of psychology as well then as the average human decision maker. It is axiomatic to believe in “controlling emotion”. Professional researchers talk in terms of “emotion regulation” but it is the same thing – and there is a very very good chance the entire concept is flawed.
First of all – an emotion alone never ever did anything – it didn’t make a bad decision, lose money or anything else. An emotion alone is just a feeling – with content and a source. It really is only a piece of data – a reflection of meaning. So why control something that alone is essentially powerless?
Well we talk about controlling emotions because in misunderstanding them for the better part of the past 70 years, we confused them with actions – the psychological and physical events that need controlled. It is only a movement – a physical action that can cause anything to happen. So in order to properly leverage the information, motivation and other valuables within your emotions – first remember that you only have to control the action you take. Make them two separate things – because they are.
Second, figure out that you can feel bad – angry, sad, agitated … whatever… and not do anything – except analyze what is REALLY making you feel that way. Until you KNOW what is really making you feel that way, keep analyzing the data because once you know you have created mental and psychological capital – which is power.
This is huge – you have the ability to create power within yourself simply by understanding yourself. You have the ability to create change simply by analyzing the emotion data and not by mixing it up with action.
A few bold neuroscientists talk about this – they buck the trend of the cognitive revolution and notice that we don’t just think and do, we feel, think and do…. and we need to consciously and explicitly leverage all three. There is even research that shows the attempt to control certain types of emotions makes them more intense – and more likely to be acted out – (which is what is happening – if you don’t understand the emotion, you automatically act it out).
If you want to ACT in the way that serves your goals, stop trying to control you emotions and use them purely as data. Choose your actions carefully once you understand your emotions.