Deal With Stress

How to Control Your Emotions

confident-womanIntense emotions can arise at the most inopportune times, with the capacity to overwhelm you when least expect it. Your mind shuts down and instantaneously you’re a deer in the headlights. Frozen and consumed by the emotion. Have you ever experienced the intensity of emotions such as anger, anxiety or fear? It seems there is little we can do to reason with the emotion as it floods the mind and body with its raging intensity.

Don’t despair. Emotions are a part of our human experience. The word emotion as author Daniel Siegel suggests, evokes motion that motivate us to act in response to the meaning we assign to whatever is happening to us at the time.

Our emotions can propel us to great heights or thrust us deep into despair. A useful strategy for managing emotions is to be mindful of them as they occur. For many people, they remain asleep when it comes to their emotions and the role they serve in their life.

We rarely take the time to examine our emotions. Without turning this into a war between the sexes, women prefer to talk about their emotions while men subscribe to the adage out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps men inadvertently choose sports as a way to release pent-up emotions without conscious motivation. Much like physical health, our mental and emotional wellbeing is equally important to maintain a healthy and vibrant life.

Daniel Goleman’s much acclaimed book, Emotional Intelligence gave rise to the term EQ (Emotional Intelligence). He states that your ability to manage your emotions is a strong precursor to long term wellbeing and success. Warren Buffett attributes ones EQ to the ability to manage their finances.

Numerous social and psychological studies have been conducted over the years in an attempt to measure children’s EQ. In a number of these studies, supervising psychologists followed up with the children years later throughout their teenage and adult lives. They noted those who displayed higher EQ as children were more likely to have a positive and optimistic outlook as adults.

The following points are strategies to help you master your emotions. Like most things, they require patience, persistence and focus. You needn’t slay your demons overnight, although becoming aware and awake to your emotional constitution is vital for your personal evolution.

1. Name and Tame the emotion: Referring earlier to Daniel Siegel’s book Mindsight, he suggests that we name and tame the emotions we are experiencing rather than become overwhelmed by them. Siegel proposes that labelling your emotions without the prefix “I am” allows you to recognise the feeling you are experiencing without being consumed by it. Using “I feel” is a healthier way to allow the emotion to move through you. You might rephrase “I am angry” to “I feel angry” which lessens the intensity of the emotion. This method removes the burden to identify oneself as the purveyor of the emotion.

2. Talk to your brain: When we’re flooded with emotions the amygdala goes “offline” in an attempt to discern the possibility of a real threat to you. This all happens in a millisecond as the HPA axis moves into a fight or flight response. This is why it is difficult to tame an emotion when you’re in the throes of it. The mind perceives the threat of danger by calling your attention to it. Talking to your brain creates a reference point for the mind, instead of habitually reacting to external conditions. You create a cushion or space around the emotion so there is time to respond rather than react.

3. Move into your body: When you’re overcome with runaway emotions, you are blind to your actions, due to the emotional hijacking which occurs. The body is sent into a fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) as the brain communicates the impending threat to the nervous system. By moving into your body and focussing on your breath, you engage the parasympathetic nervous system, thus restoring calm and homeostasis to mind and body.

4. Know your emotional constitution: Knowing your emotional constitution is fundamental for joyfully navigating your passage through life. What situations send you into unease? Are there particularly instances like relationships, career or financial triggers that cause discomfort? Knowing this in advance allows you to attend to the destructive emotions, without being overcome by them. There is no point resorting to anger and rage and feeling remorseful later. If it is your aim to master your emotions, being acquainted with your emotional constitution is vital.

5. Practice mindfulness: A useful strategy for dealing with frustration is the practice of mindfulness. The exercise invites you to bring your frustrated thoughts to the forefront of your mind. Simply sit with the thought as though you were consoling a small child who has been hurt. There is no need to do anything other than offer your presence to the thought. Close your eyes and translate the thoughts into images if that helps you. View the thoughts as though you were rehearsing a mental imagery of a scene. Remember the Viewmaster toy you played with as a child? That little red box you looked into for hours with 3D images printed on a circular paper wheel. Give your imagined scene a similar life by noticing the colours, sounds and other appealing aspects.

6. Exercise to release tension: It has been shown that toxic emotions have the potential to move through the body and wreak havoc in a short amount of time. Tara Brach in her book, True Refuge, cites the work of brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor who suggests that the average lifespan of an emotion to move through the nervous system is one and a half minutes. Knowing this releases the burden that we need to carry our emotional attachments longer than need be.

Exercise and movement are vital for dissolving toxic emotions and restoring balance to mind and body. In his book Spark, author Dr John J. Ratey suggests that exercise balances neurotransmitters – along with the rest of the neurochemicals in the brain. Exercise produces calming chemical changes and increases levels of serotonin, which calms us down and enhances our sense of safety.

Exercise also boots dopamine, which improves mood and feelings of wellness. Finally, exercise adjusts the chemistry of the entire brain to restore normal signalling. It frees up the prefrontal cortex so we can remember the good things and break out of the pessimistic patterns of depression.


Author Bio: Tony Fahkry, Visit for weekly video updates on health, personal development and self awareness matters. Founder of The Power to Navigate Life, Tony is one of Australia’s leading coaches, speakers, and writers on Mind-Body health. With over 10 years industry experience, Tony believes in an all-encompassing approach to health and wellbeing, focusing on the benefits of stress and lifestyle management; leading him to become a much sought after holistic lifestyle coach. As a regularly published expert in the field of mind-body connection, he enjoys focusing on his major teaching principles across the areas of self-awareness, personal growth and health & spiritual guidance.

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Deal With Stress

10 Steps Toward Taking Control of Your Subconscious Mind

subconscious mindThere are two parts to our brains- the conscious mind, which handles all things we are aware of and the subconscious mind, which controls everything else. The conscious mind works only some of the time (when we are awake). But the subconscious mind is always at work.

Whether we are aware of it or not, the subconscious mind, not including involuntary physical behaviors such as breathing and our heart beat, works off of signals sent to it from the conscious mind. In other words, whatever we spend our conscious time thinking about most becomes a point of interest for our subconscious mind. And since our subconscious mind is always at work, it puts forth a great deal of effort addressing those topics.

Have you ever gone to bed shortly after watching a scary movie? More often than not you have some sort of nightmares, right? Even if you can’t recall being woken from the nightmares, there is a good chance that you had them. The occurrence of the nightmares is a prime example of the awesome power of our subconscious minds. While you watched the movie your conscious mind was creating thoughts and images of the parts that you found scary. If you don’t change those thoughts before going to sleep, then your subconscious mind has nothing to work with other than the movie you just watched. During sleep is the most effective time for the subconscious mind, because there is no chance of conflicting signals coming from the conscious mind. This is why when making an important decision people will sometimes want to “sleep on it”.

Ultimately your subconscious mind knows what’s in your best interest, and will nudge you in that direction. Without the negative influence of the conscious mind, which tends to make decisions based on emotion rather than logical thought, your subconscious is free to do what it does best. That is, to help you achieve whatever it is you desire.

Now that we’ve determined that sleep is the best time for your subconscious mind to handle its work, we need to be sure that the scary movie thoughts are replaced with positive, problem solving and productive thoughts. This way, when your subconscious mind gets working it is addressing the issues of most importance to you, and not caught up with trivial matters that are out of your control anyway.

Following is a list of ten methods you can apply to your life that will help you access your subconscious mind.

Although the ideal situation would be to apply these tactics right before bed, it’s not practical to expect to do so. I also think there are advantages to applying them throughout the day so that you’re sure the things you want are reaching your subconscious mind.

Like anything else, these concepts will become easier with practice, but even when implemented poorly or improperly, you should still begin to see substantial results.

1. Leave Reminders

The easiest way to be sure you’re thinking about things that are important is to leave physical reminders. There are a number of ways you can do this. The simplest is to write yourself notes. A to-do list can be helpful, though it’s easy to have your primary goals blend in with other, less important daily activities.

What I suggest instead, and have found personal success with, is to firmly and clearly write your goal or desire on an note card or piece of paper and put it in a strategic location. I did this with my recent weight loss goal.The idea being that you will see it often, and the goal or thought will begin to fester in your mind, even if you are unaware of what’s taking place.

Physical reminders use your conscious mind as a bridge to get to your subconscious mind. First, by creating the reminders (i.e. drawing the notes) you are instilling the thought into first your conscious mind, and then your subconscious.

Second, when you place the reminder in a strategic location, one where you will see it frequently, you give the thought an opportunity to take a direct route to your subconscious. (Think subliminal messaging.) If advertisers take advantage of this method so freely, and with such success, why can’t we “trick” ourselves, too?

2. Meditate

I’m not a person who puts myself into deep trances on a regular basis, but as someone who daydreams occasionally, I can attest to the benefits of allowing your mind to drift into a relaxed, thoughtless state.

Thoughtless may be the wrong word. Focused is probably more accurate.

The next time you catch yourself daydreaming, take a moment and think about how focused and in tune with your thoughts you were. That is the state of mind you should shoot for when you meditate. Relax until you are literally lost in thought.

Be sure to have a focused topic as you are drifting into meditation or your thoughts may be misdirected. Take a minute to specifically identify the goals you want to achieve or the problem you’d like to solve. Once you’ve got them clearly in your mind, close your eyes, control your breathing and relax your body. Don’t let those thoughts leave your head. Now visualize (see step 3.) yourself achieving the goals, or functioning in a world where your problem has been solved.

Continue in this state for as long as you feel necessary, and repeat as needed.

3. Visualize

Visualization works best when it’s paired with meditation, but it doesn’t have to be. Meditation puts you in a relaxed state, which makes it easier to create visual sequences. By creating visual sequences you put yourself in a situation that you anticipate yourself being in, before it actually happens. This allows your brain acclimate itself to the situation that is about to occur.

Essentially, visualization is practice for your brain. It’s no different than practicing an athletic event, except rather than training muscles, you’re training your brain, so it knows how you want it to respond in a specific scenario.

To visualize, all you do is create mental pictures (some people prefer videos), of yourself successfully accomplishing something. You would actually see yourself performing the task, either in third or first person, whichever you prefer.

It’s important to remember to create the picture in as much detail as possible, making note of such things as sounds and smells. The more detailed the visualization, the more successful it will be.

Visualize through the entire event or performance, imagining the desired outcome and all the excitement that comes with it. Allow yourself to feel the joy that you will feel when you actually do successfully complete the task. Make it as real and as accurate as possible. Repeat as necessary, and don’t stop until you’re convinced you’ve already achieved the goal.

4. Tell Others About Your Goal

If you were to state your goal or desire aloud on a daily basis, your subconscious mind would have no choice but to listen. In order to speak, your brain must formulate thoughts, and in order to formulate thoughts, your brain must first compile and organize those thoughts. Such a simple thing as telling others about your plans requires that you make important decisions before you can do so.

The entire process is orchestrated by your conscious mind, which relays the plan to the subconscious. Suddenly, you’ve opened up the channel of communication between the two minds, simply by stating your thoughts. While you’re explaining away, your subconscious has already begun working on how you’re going to accomplish your goal.

A beneficial byproduct of this step is the accountability factor. This is another strategy that I used when starting my weight loss plan. The more people you tell of your plan, the more people you will let down if you fail to achieve it. For me, the accountability aspect adds an extra element of motivation to my already desired goal. It is also a huge help when dealing with procrastination.

5. Talk to Those Who’ve Been There

Trails are blazed for a reason. Could you imagine if every time you wanted to do something you had to completely start from scratch? What if recipes had to be invented new each time? Or if computers weren’t built based on successes and failures of previous builds? Imagine how impossible progression would be on this planet.

Thankfully, that isn’t the case in manufacturing and cooking, and there’s no reason why it should be in life either. If there’s a particular thing you’d like to do with your life, then make it a point to speak to someone who has already done it. If you can’t get in touch with them, then read everything you can about them, or study their career. Do everything in your power to follow the path that they created for themselves. If there’s something you’d rather do differently, you can always veer off, but there is no need to insist on being a pioneer to get to the same place someone else already has.

You don’t have to stop being your own person to follow a blueprint for success. Having a plan that is already proven successful will allow your subconscious mind to work on the nuts and bolts of following the plan rather than designing its own plan. The closer you can get your subconscious mind to the heart of the matter, the better.

It begins with starting down the right road.

6. Set a Deadline

Tell your subconscious mind that you mean business. If you were to combine a deadline with the accountability factor, you’d give yourself no choice but to accomplish your goal.

A deadline tells your subconscious mind that there is an urgent matter at hand, and it must be taken care of immediately. Your mind will feel the importance of the matter, and will make all the necessary adjustments to be sure that the proper attention is given to solving this problem, which it understands to be the most pressing.

Even if it isn’t the most important thing going on in your life, a deadline will keep your mind working on it, until it’s met.

The amazing thing about the subconscious mind is it does whatever it takes to accomplish the things that you ask it to. Attaching a deadline to a particular goal simply increases the rate at which the subconscious mind works, without you even realizing it.

7. Maintain Focus

It’s extremely easy to become distracted from the goals that are most important.

Typically, when you lose focus on what’s important it’s because your conscious mind becomes occupied with something. Although your subconscious mind wants to continue working on the original plan, your attention is diverted from the ultimate goal to something more timely, but usually not nearly as important.

When your focus shifts, the ability of your subconscious mind to take on and solve the problems you’ve laid out for it becomes significantly lower. To counteract this, you’ve got to make a conscious effort to maintain your focus on the issues that you want your subconscious to concentrate on. By this I mean you’ve got to be aware of the distractions that are presented to your conscious mind, and do your best to flush them out.

Once you understand how to filter your thoughts so that only the absolutely important ones make it to your subconscious, you’re on your way to realizing its potential.

8. Chart Progress

The only way to truly understand progress is to see where you were then, and compare it to where you are now. To see a visual map of the road you traveled is an important step towards reaching your ultimate goal.

To begin, take the goal you’d like to achieve, the one that you’ve been calling on your subconscious mind to accomplish, and write it down in as much detail as you can.

Next, identify a few of the stages or milestones that you plan to reach on the way towards achieving that goal. Keep them in your mind as necessary benchmarks.

Now when you approach those benchmarks you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come, as well as how much further you have to go.

The road map lets your subconscious know that it’s on the right track, that it’s making progress, and what the next benchmark is, so it can apply its efforts accordingly.

9. Be Realistic

It’s easy to tell your subconscious that your goal is to end world hunger. However, when you do that, and then realize that such a goal is beyond your scope of ability, you’ve set yourself up for failure. As a result you become discouraged and risk losing faith in yourself.

A better way to accomplish your goal is to set a goal that challenges you, yet is realistic. If ending world hunger is your ultimate goal, how about setting your first goal at ending hunger in your community. Once you’ve accomplished that goal, then you can broaden your scope and work on something bigger.

Give your subconscious mind a challenging goal, but pace yourself. Going for it all right off the bat is a recipe for disaster.

10. Persevere & Persist

Understand now that there will be setbacks. There will be struggles and difficulties. But keep in mind that those things are only temporary.

No setback has to be permanent. It only becomes so if you allow it. It’s your responsibility to train your subconscious and conscious minds to see the difference between setbacks and failures.

When you hit a roadblock, go around it. When you have a bridge to cross, cross it with confidence.

Tell yourself that no matter what, you will accomplish that goal. Your subconscious mind, once it has the assurance that you want it to work on a goal, will do whatever it takes to succeed. But if it has the slightest bit of doubt (i.e. you’re not totally convinced of what your want, or if you can accomplish it) then it struggles to find solutions.

Be persistent, persevere through tough times, decide confidently in what you want and allow no temporary setback to put you off course.

If you relay this message to your subconscious mind by making a conscious decision that this is what you want, your subconscious mind will respond.

You Control Your Destiny

Remember, your subconscious mind exists to serve you. Put it to work in a productive way and it will provide overwhelming results.

Make conscious decisions that are in the best interest of your overall goals, and your subconscious mind will receive the message, and go to work.

The more you utilize the great power that your subconscious mind provides, the better you will be at calling on it. And the better you get at calling on it, the more success you will realize.

Only you control your destiny. You have the ability to make decisions that impact your life. Take advantage of the power you have to make the best decisions.

RJ Licata is an internet entrepreneur who spends a great deal of time working on his own personal development. His blog – Personal Development for Everyone examines the many areas of self improvement that we find ourselves struggling with on a daily basis.  RJ’s experience stems from reading a great deal of books and listening to many accomplished speakers. Most importantly, he plans to continue learning right alongside his readers. For more articles like this one, check out RJ’s Personal Development Blog! RJ’s Blog –

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