Gain control over overwhelming emotions

A healthy balanced life is based on our success with managing our emotions. Often we can be struck by a bothersome emotion which can feel like a full body experience, a red-hot thought can be followed by embarrassment, shame, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety or a multitude of other emotions. If you struggle with emotional chaos at times, you can learn how to gain control over these unruly feelings and use them to your advantage.

Remember emotions are very powerful and are key players in determining the route and experiences of our entire lives. Our instinctive reaction to an unwanted emotion is usually to push it away, to avoid it. When we feel embarrassed in a social situation, inadequate at a meeting or overcome by a memory we dip into our regular strategy toolkit and push away the nuisance feeling by:

  • moving into action
  • leaving the room
  • distraction
  • ignoring him/her.

We can add a new tool to our psyche’s toolkit and instead of pushing away that bothersome emotion you can use it to your advantage by:

Making yourself aware of your emotions when they hit you and learn to cherish them. Just as you identify the sensations of pleasure or pain you can also learn to identify the feelings that come with emotions. Feel them, know if what you are feeling is anger, frustration or bitterness. Knowing what you are feeling goes a long way to understanding yourself.

Name the feeling, it can be a simple word like sad, bad or glad (if you’re talking to children) but you know there is more detail, find a thesaurus if you are a more complex person and you might discover words to do your emotions justice.

Learn to connect your feelings to certain thoughts. Take the time to explore the thought patterns and belief systems behind the feelings e.g. yes I do feel disappointed by being ignored by my boyfriend, what are my beliefs about this? What do I really need? Am I lacking security/confidence and how can I build these needs?

Feel the feelings fully. Once you identify your feelings and thought patterns you can rid your mind of them but only if you fully feel what its like as an insecure /unconfident/anxious person. Take time, breathe, let old similar and familiar memories come, if they overwhelm you allow this (in a safe place) then allow them to fade. They will dissolve rather than accumulate.

Reframe the thought process. After purging the old feelings replace them with a reconsidered and reaffirming thought pattern, you can build the ground for more control over more beneficial emotions.

Remember you will always have emotions. Don’t avoid or push them away as that leads to greater anxiety, instead give yourself permission to wallow in them. Embrace the good and the bad emotions.

Emotions + thoughts = behavior.
Reframed emotions + reconsidered thoughts = refreshed behavior.

Being in touch with our emotions is not easy, it needs assistance, talk to family or friends, a support group or a trained professional. Managing and truly feeling emotions is essential for a healthy life, inner peace, security and confidence and a more fulfilling and happy emotional life.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Muswell Hill N10 & Central London SE1
Written by Mary Mcilroy, BACP Accredited (Anxiety specialist). Bupa listed 30060387
Muswell Hill N10 & Central London SE1

I am a registered counsellor with the BACP. The areas where I work are: London Bridge/The City of London and Muswell Hill/London N10. Although I help people mainly with issues of anxiety and depression, I cover many other areas.

Please visit my website for more information:

Show comments

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals