A Super Simple Trick to Develop Awareness and Control Over Emotions

Want to develop self-awareness? Want to build control over your emotions? Here is a simple self-help practice you can do that will help you develop self-awareness and emotional control.

From Negative to Positive

Before moving forward, just breathe. Sit and focus on your breathing for a few moments—nothing else. Then you can proceed with the activity.

This activity uses the example of feeling depressed about being away from family because of the pandemic. If this does not resonate with you, you can simply change the statements and emotions to match what is most accurate for you. Using the Ladder of Emotions will help you tremendously if you wish to create your own version of this activity:

All you need to do is start from the bottom, and gradually work your way up to the top, one step at a time, just like climbing a ladder.

  1. Write down what makes you feel depressed about your current situation. For example, “I feel depressed because I am so far away from my family.”
  2. Write down what makes you feel angry about your current situation. For example, “This fucking pandemic makes me so mad!”
  3. Write down how overwhelmed, stressed, or disappointed you feel because of your situation and how you cannot do anything about it. For example, “Thinking about all the things I cannot control makes me feel disappointed, and it honestly only makes me feel stressed.”
  4. Write down how frustrated you feel for making yourself stressed by wasting your time thinking about things you cannot control. For example, “Ugh, I can’t believe I just did this to myself. I feel frustrated at myself for doing this. I just made myself feel stressed!”
  5. Write down how you can feel indifferent and just let go of the things you cannot control, since you cannot do anything about it anyway. For example, “Since I cannot control those things, I can feel indifferent about it. I do not really need to give it any of my energy. I can just let it go. Besides, I would rather focus on what I can control.”
  6. Write down how relieved you feel for getting that monkey off your back. For example, “It feels pretty relieving, honestly, to shake it off and be able to go back to living my life!”
  7. Write down how thankful you are for being able to understand and control your emotions. For example, “I am thankful I was able to completely shift my mood around just by changing my way of thinking!”
  8. Write down how, after realizing the power of your own judgment, that you can live life with control over your emotions. For example, “I did not realize that controlling my emotions was this simple. All I have to do is label what I feel, write it down, get it off my chest, and change my way of thinking. I really think I am getting the hang of this, and I know that I will get much better at controlling my emotions with practice!”
  9. Read each of the statements you wrote down, from the first to the last. Take your time to read each statement and feel the emotion that goes with it. Notice how you feel as you do this activity. If you are like most people, this will drastically change your mood, taking you from feeling the worst negative, to feeling pretty positive about life in general.

What does this activity solve? This does not eliminate the source of your depression or loneliness, but it serves as a gentle guide to take you from your worst to your best. It is a reminder of the real source of your emotions: your judgment—how you think about the things in your life. This exercise is a great way to practice emotional intelligence, while also giving you the momentum you need to focus on what is within your control so that you can make your life better.

With regards to healing from intense negative emotions, I go into much greater detail in my book, realizing my Self in the psychiatric ward, which you can find here on Amazon.

Hope that helps!

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