Tips for exercising emotional control

Posted on September 18, 2018 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.

Director, Yeshua Institute

A good many people are telling us today that it’s essential to express our emotions. And in the broad scheme of things they’re right.

But that doesn’t mean we should express all our emotions everywhere and all the time.

In fact, the contrary is true: We should express our emotions selectively – with respect to both our feelings and the audiences with which we are dealing. Others deserve to be treated as more than just dumping grounds for whatever happens to engage our passion at the moment.

It’s especially important for leaders to be able to control their emotions if they want to nurture healthy, life-giving and growing cultures.

“You aren’t a two-year old who lets everyone know how she feels NOW. You’re a leader and leaders serve the best interest of others,” says Dan Rockwell, author of the Leadership Freak blog.

Rockwell suggests seven ways to practice emotional control:

  1. Notice and reflect on your feelings. What do you really want and what’s the best way to get it?
  2. Delay responses. Write that nasty email, but don’t send it, ever.
  3. Discuss your feelings with someone outside your team.
  4. Get some rest. You’re never at your best when you’re exhausted.
  5. Eat right. Exercise. Take walks.
  6. Serve the best interest of others even when it’s difficult.
  7. Do something for someone who can’t do something for you. Generosity recharges your emotional batteries.

An eighth suggestion

In a spirit of gratitude to Rockwell, let me offer a last – but not least -- suggestion: Share your emotions with God.

I know a good number of Christians who always want to be “at their best” with God. But that’s ridiculous. God knows all. God sees all. God is aware of us in every moment – at our very worst as well as at our very best.

And God still loves us – no matter what.

God loves us warts and all, roiling emotions and all. So just level with Him about how you’re feeling. And then ask Him for help in getting past whatever is upsetting you.

If the issue needs to be addressed, you can address it later – after you calm down and have your emotions under control.