Managing your emotions in stressful situations or in certain moments of discomfort involves great effort and training you must follow throughout your life. Furthermore, this affects the quality of your emotional, social, and work relationships and their long-term maintenance.
However, it’s pretty common to find yourself struggling to try and eliminate the discomfort caused by your negative emotions. On the other hand, you try and make your positive emotions last.
Intelligently managing your emotions means you observe certain of your emotional states and their context. The objective is to achieve a balance between your emotional state and the demands of your environment, whatever they may be at the time.
Primary and secondary emotions
As human beings, like other animals, we’re innately endowed with the following emotions:
These are the basic emotions. You need them for your survival as they generate an adaptive response in you. Furthermore, they cause physical changes in you, depending on the specific emotion caused by the context you find yourself in.
From your primary emotions, come your secondary emotions. These aren’t necessarily associated with your environment. In fact, they’re emotions that you experience in conjunction with certain forms of thought. Therefore, they’re not related to the initiation of your survival mechanisms.
To manage your emotions effectively, you need to possess some emotional awareness of what’s going on under your skin. As a matter of fact, it’s a prerequisite for emotional intelligence since it allows the regulation of your own emotions and of certain expressive behaviors (whether they’re appropriate or not) in a conscious way.
Emotional awareness for the management of emotions involves attentional and perceptual processes. That’s so you can locate the environmental antecedents.
In turn, it’s important to observe how the emotion occurs. This is so you can manage its physical activation. Furthermore, you’re able to estimate the immediate and long-term consequences for yourself and your environment when expressing your most immediate emotional reactions.
Emotions in relationships with others
Under normal conditions, you usually manage your emotions to a certain extent in order to achieve your goals. These goals can range from attempts to control your physical reactions to modifying events in the outside world.
Emotions that are linked to the social world are known as secondary emotions. They involve interpretations you make of the signals provided by your environment and your thoughts themselves. Their meaning tends to be assigned to external circumstances.
These emotions are exclusive to human beings, and can be classified in the following categories:
Managing secondary emotions in the outside world
All your emotions, whatever their context, are important to you. In addition, you’re generally able to recognize them and differentiate between certain forms of action depending on the context.
However, if you have little training in emotional recognition and expression, it can generate conflicts. For example, if you interpret certain emotions as a sign of danger or threat, you’ll put in place certain mechanisms to fight for your survival or escape from the supposed danger. This is despite the fact that there’s no clear correlation between that emotion and a real threat.
Managing your emotions in contexts where there might be a risk of possible harm to you requires intense training and a certain tolerance for discomfort. These situations could be caused by stress or arguments etc. However, ineffective emotional management might mean that you “speak with the voice of emotion”. This increases the risk of you worsening the scenario you’re in at the time.
Consequences of inadequate emotional management
Poor emotional management has consequences in the emotional, social, and work area. In fact, poor recognition of your surrounding emotions can increase the risk of developing difficulties in your interpersonal relationships. Indeed, it could even lead to their breakdown.
This tends to occur if you channel your emotional expression aggressively. It’s as if you’re wearing dark glasses that prevent you from seeing what’s really going on “out there.”
Optimal management of emotions involves identifying the emotional state in which you’re immersed and the energy associated with it.
In other words, emotions are there to inform you – for example, that someone has harmed you – and to provide you with an organic context that facilitates a response. Consequently, emotions work in your favor when you’re able to modulate and align your response with your interests.
“In this treacherous world, nothing is true or false. It all depends on the color of the glass you look through.”
-Ramón De Campoamor-