Emotional balance is the ability to find ways to manage our impulses and emotions, even in stressful situations. Emotional balance also promotes physical health, and is a prerequisite for personal wellbeing and growth.
It is a practice that requires time and skill. However, if you manage to master it, it will help you deal with the day-to-day difficulties and problems. Not only will it improve your relationship with yourself, but with others as well.
1. Become consciously aware that you are experiencing an emotion.
Identify the particular emotion. Put the emotion into words (“I’m feeling anxious,” “I’m feeling powerless.”). Identifying and putting the emotions you experience into words will help you to react much better and consciously.
Next, observe which situation or situations might trigger that emotion. Is it a specific person, or maybe a thought? Or a memory that you have? The key is to figure out the origin of the emotion and observe all its related aspects.
2- Take the specific actions that move you back to balance.
Act, don’t react. If you’re stuck in the middle of intense emotions, you won’t see clearly and you will be reacting based on past patterns, on previous scenarios that may not be the same as the current one.
A) Take a deep breath —as many times as necessary— don’t let your emotions get the better of you.
B) Ask yourself, is it a situation that I can fix, or is it beyond my possibilities?
In case you can fix it, ask yourself: Do I need to fix it, or is it just a whim / manipulation / exerting control?
Let’s look at this example.
Susan’s husband always leaves the wet towel on the bed.
Susan is extremely frustrated and upset.
She can react in two ways:
a) Yell at him. Lock herself in the bathroom and cry. Call John’s work and apologize to him, because she feels so bad about the morning fight.
b) Think, “John is a bit clueless, I know he doesn’t do it on purpose. A towel is not worth fighting for and I just need to express that it bothers me even when I realize that is not too much of a thing for him.”
Do you notice the difference?
In Example #1, even though the problem was easy to fix, Susan was carried away by her emotions. One bad reaction led to another (yelling, crying, apologizing).
Instead, in example #2, despite feeling frustrated and upset, Susan chose to solve the problem using a different approach, in a balanced and peaceful way.
The more habituated you are to this awareness of the rising of emotion, the easiest it becomes to realize that it is you who are in charge and not your emotion, that you are not your emotion, and that you can calibrate the emotion to a proper intensity. This creates room for choosing how we respond.
C) Don’t try to avoid emotional or physical pain. Ironically, the harder someone works to avoid pain, the greater his or her suffering tends to be.
Be prepared to let go of your attachments to any particular outcome so that you can be open to striking an emotional balance bigger.
D) Choose your battles. Not everything is important. Some things simply don’t matter in the long run. Fight for the most important battles and let it go of the rest.
3- Open yourself up to the thought of distress tolerance.
Distress tolerance enhances coping capacity by strengthening resiliency—the ability to adjust to change.
Distress tolerance skills involve the ability to nonjudgmentally accept both oneself and the current situation in spite of the emotional or physical pain it may bring.
It is important to clarify that acceptance does not equal approval. We can learn to accept discomfort, and learn and co-exist with uncomfortable, distressing emotions when we don’t like them at all, and even when we dislike them intensely.
4- Accept the experience, allow the emotion, and let it go
This step consists of accepting the emotion without judgment. Not only that but allowing the emotion to be, without repressing it or putting up resistance.
Let the emotion express itself, just as it is. That way, you give the emotion space and recognize it as part of you (only a portion of you) to find emotional balance.
It is important to realize that you will only be able to let go of your emotion if you leave it out of your internal dialogue. You can’t force the emotion to disappear. You have to let it dissolve on its own. In that sense, a key strategy to limit the emotion’s power is to recognize that you are not the emotion.
Remember, the emotion is not you, you are just housing it for a while.
“An emotion which is a passion ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea of it.” — The Dutch philosopher Spinoza
Wellbeing: The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
“People doing yoga benefit from an increased feeling of wellbeing.”
Weakness: A quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault.
“I believe weaknesses can become strengths.”
Strategy: A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
“We are convinced that our strategy will enable us to achieve these objectives.”
Ask somebody out
“Have you finally decided to ask out that cute girl in your English class?”
Break up with
“Why did you break up with your boyfriend?”
“You are still mad. You need to calm down before you drive the car.”
Cheer somebody up
“I brought you some chocolates to cheer you up.”
Frank and I will never get along. We’re chalk and cheese.
Chalk and cheese: The two are very different from each other; they have nothing in common.
Break a leg: Good luck.
Hang in there: Don’t give up
No pain, no gain: You have to work for what you want.
To get bent out of shape: To get upset.
1- How could you create more balance in your life?
2- How do you deal with a bad day?
3- Has there ever been a time when you felt you needed to change your emotional behavior at work? How did you do it?
4- What’s your greatest weakness?
5- How good are you at asking for help?
6- Speaking of emotional balance, how do you think you are doing?
7- What makes you angry?
8- How do you maintain a healthy balance of positive and negative emotions?
9- How do you find emotional balance in your life?
10- Tell me about a time you received negative feedback —that you did not deserve— from your best friend. How did that make you feel?
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