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How To Change Your Emotional Response To An Event

You are having a strong emotional response you don’t want to have. You are angry, you are frightened, you are anxious, you are frustrated.  It is not resourceful. It is affecting your ability to reason and problem-solve and you are shutting down. People around you are noticing and you need to calm down or show your confidence.  This could be due to anger or fear. How can you change the way you feel and how you respond so you can take action more positively?

This article will help you:

  • Feel calmer.

  • Feel more in control.

  • Respond as opposed to react 

  • Allow yourself to respond positively.

  • Help others learn from your actions

A somatic response is the body’s physiological response you have to an emotional reaction. It has been proven that gaining some control physically over what is happening can affect your emotions. A study in 2017 showed that certain nerve cells were connected to the participant's breathing and frame of mind. The study showed that controlling breathing could directly affect emotion and create a feeling of tranquillity.

Another study in 2021 showed that stress relaxation training which included visualisation and muscle relaxation can be effective in improving relaxation states at both the psychological and physiological levels.

There are several other self-coaching check-in exercises you can do to help yourself when you start to feel fear anger or any other emotions. 

Leaders this is for you and your team members so feel free to share to help others. Let’s get started! 

Ask yourself  ‘How does the emotion serve/help me?’

Some people need fear or anger to kickstart an action. For others, the emotion is not helpful.  If you decide the emotion helps you start action, recognise this and start your plan! If the emotion has no use at all, now is your chance to decide to feel differently for a different outcome. 

Notice what happens to your body 

What physically happens when the emotion arises? Do you clench your fists or your jaw? Do you hold your breath? Do your shoulders tense up? Noticing this and making the decision in this moment of choice to make a change is completely game-changing. So:

  • Breath.

  • Relax your muscles from head to toe. 

  • Shrug your shoulders and take a few deep breaths.

  • Walk around to help yourself relax. Movement also increases the blood flow to your brain, increasing your cognitive reasoning abilities.  

Think about what you can and cannot control 

What you cannot control let go of. You can’t do anything about this so you need to focus and work on what you can control. Really focus on what you can control and make an action plan to move forward. Step by step. Choose one small step forward, tiny as it may be to make that change. 

Visualise a positive outcome

Close your eyes and imagine a positive outcome. The best possible outcome. Imagine what you will be seeing/ hearing/ feeling when everything goes well. Sit in that positive visualisation and really believe it. This helps reduce stress and you will also unconsciously/ subconsciously move towards a positive outcome.  Do this for 5 minutes and this will significantly help. 

Finally, remember 

When you start to feel fear or anger.  Remember YOU have the choice to change the outcome. You can change your feeling at that moment or reduce it. This can be challenging to start with, but it is possible. This is up to you.  Start to practice all of the above when you have the feeling and remember the more you practice the better you will be. 

Caroline Langston is the Co-Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for performance success, wellness and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree-qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery. She is also a Professional Certified Accredited Coach (International Coaching Federation), has a Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC and further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level.

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