3 Simple Steps To Manage Your Emotions

Preview: You can cultivate a thriving home atmosphere. Learn the three simple steps to manage your emotions instead of letting them control you.

How many times have you been wrecked by emotions?

Maybe you weren’t able to respond the way you wanted.

Maybe the tone of your home was not pleasant because your emotions, the emotions of your children, or all of the above, were taking control.

It’s not always easy, but you can manage your emotions and cultivate a thriving home atmosphere. In this post, you’ll learn the three simple steps to manage your emotions instead of letting them control you.

You can cultivate a thriving home atmosphere. Learn the three simple steps to manage your emotions instead of letting them control you.

Being a thermostat instead of a thermometer

I learned about being a thermostat instead of a thermometer when my daughters were about four and seven years old.

A thermometer registers what is happening in the environment, while a thermostat seeks to influence the environment, working toward a desired outcome.

Several years ago, a friend asked me how I set the tone of our home. At first, I didn’t know how to answer her. I didn’t know how I did it. I just did. But the more that I thought about it, I realized I had been learning and implementing little things I could do to change my mindset, thoughts, and how I reacted so that my emotions no longer controlled me, most of the time.

I heard a podcast recently describing emotional intelligence, and I realized that was exactly what I had been trying to learn how to do. I was so excited to finally have words to describe what I had been doing for the past ten years. Now, I can finally answer my friend and tell her this is what you do to set the tone of your home. I follow three steps to manage my emotions so I can be a thermostat instead of a thermometer.

These three steps are simple, but they do require effort to implement. It will require a lot of practice and a lot of patience. You’ll learn the four steps in this post. To help you implement them, I’ve created a special toolkit. You can download the free Thermostat Approach Toolkit, which includes additional resources, journaling prompts, and completed sample pages.

Step 1: Register

The first step is to register what is going on, acknowledge your feelings, and evaluate your environment.

Ground Yourself

Before you can register what is happening, you probably first need to ground yourself. When you feel strong emotions, the part of your brain called the amygdala controls your thoughts and actions. A grounding technique can help you reengage your prefrontal cortex, which is your logical thinking brain so that it can resume control and you can choose your response.

The grounding technique I did when I first learned about being a thermostat was to say an anchoring phrase. My phrase was, “Be the thermostat.” I had to take a deep breath, calm down, and remind myself of what I wanted to accomplish. My children laugh because whenever I tell the story, they remember me walking around the house mumbling under my breath, “Be the thermostat. Be the thermostat. Be the thermostat.” There were days I did not want to be the thermostat. I wanted to react, get away, and not deal with the problem. But I knew I needed to set the tone of my home, so I reminded myself to be the thermostat. It allowed me to reengage my prefrontal cortex, calm down, and think about what was happening.

There are many other grounding techniques you could do, including rubbing the seam of your jeans, taking a sip of water, or taking a walk. You could do a breathing exercise or a mental grounding technique. The free Thermostat Approach Toolkit lists 19 different grounding techniques. And podcast supporters can access bonus episodes that walk you through several exercises.

Name Your Emotions

After you’ve grounded yourself and can think again, you need to name your emotions. Your feelings are not good or bad; all emotions are valid. They provide information and awareness of what is happening. You will be angry, sad, scared, ecstatic, etc., but your emotions do not need to control you. Your emotions have more power when you do not acknowledge them. By naming your emotions, you remove some of their control over you. I love the phrase, “Name it to tame it.” In addition to thinking about what you are feeling, ask yourself where in your body you feel the emotion. This can give you clues about what you’re feeling. The feelings chart and reflection questions in the toolkit can help you process your emotions.

Step 2: Interpret

Next, assess and reframe the situation. Consider what’s happening and how your response is affecting yourself and others. Consider the situation from another person’s point of view. Viewing the situation from a different perspective can help you choose a more appropriate response instead of only reacting to what is happening. The toolkit has some additional questions that can help you assess and reframe the situation.

Step 3: Activate

The last step is to choose your response and implement your action plan. It can be challenging to choose your response to a situation and carry it out, but your response is often the only thing that you can control.

When an event occurs, it triggers thoughts that trigger feelings that prompt you to take action.

Your feelings are valid. It’s okay to allow yourself to experience the emotion, but the chemical that causes a feeling only lasts about six seconds. The feeling is real, but staying in that emotion longer than six seconds is a choice at some level. Your feelings are the result of what you think about and on what you focus your thoughts.

You have a choice. You can choose to stay in your current mood and emotional state, or you can choose to change it. It will be challenging, but you do have a choice. You can choose to be a thermostat instead of a thermometer.

To make a change and be a thermostat, you need to change one of three things: your thoughts, your feelings, or your actions. Changing just one will change the other two. Which one will you change?

The Thermostat Approach Toolkit includes reflection questions to help you think through your response and create an action plan so you can be a thermostat of your home atmosphere. Download your free copy today.

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