Have you ever had a situation where your emotions got the better of you? Living overwired, we are going so fast and so furiously that we often don’t take or make the time to handle our emotions until it is two late. Here are four strategies to prevent your emotions from getting the better of you:
1. Situation selection: This is the most forward-looking and proactive approach. Situation selection means to consciously and carefully choose the situations you enter into. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don’t even walk into an ice cream shop. There is power in prevention.
2. Situation modification: Sometimes we can’t choose the situations we are in, but we can make small shifts or modifications that will set us up for success. Here’s an example: You have to attend a family reunion where you know there will be an abundance of delicious, unhealthy treats. Rather than standing by the table of food, spend time away from the food, in different rooms. Not only will you increase your success, you will preserve your precious brainpower by not having to use willpower to resist.
3. Attentional Deployment: This is a fancy term for distraction. Once we are in the situation, how can we make the best of this by controlling our attention? By consciously shifting your attention away from what you are resisting to something that will reduce the emotional drain. Shifting your attention away from all the delicious food you are missing and moving your attention toward listening to Uncle Mert’s story about his Boy Scout troop. This is an internal version of situation selection.
4. Cognitive Change: Change how you see the situation in order to change the emotional significance. Rather than focusing on how hard it is to not eat or how this family reunion threatens to sabotage your diet or how much you miss eating Aunt Mae’s delicious cheesecake, focus instead on how your willpower and ability to resist is a wonderful testament to your commitment for health.
So using these tips, ask yourself:
- How can you proactively set yourself up for success?
- How can you make the best of a given situation?
- So you are stuck. How can you control your focus?
- Given that something is happening, what else could this mean?