7 Ways to Develop Emotional Mastery

It is commonly understood that to exercise mastery on one's emotions is to master life itself. Developing emotional mastery goes a long way beyond just being less reactive to upsetting situations to being able to create a steady flow of positive healthy emotions on a regular basis, impacting every aspect of our lives. When we change the way we see things, the things we see change.

Emotional mastery or emotional intelligence is simply being aware and able to manage, control and understand one's own emotions and behavior and understand the emotions and behavior of others around us.

Here are seven ways to develop master your emotions:

1. Conscious Breathing: Just as your breath changes under emotional duress, conscious breathing can help you manage your emotions. Panicky breathing puts the body in a tense state, increasing heart rate, creating a state of anxiety. Deep relaxed breathing, reduces the heart rate, evens out blood pressure, gets more oxygen into your system and has an overall calming effect on the body.

2. Movement: Emotional mastery comes with having control over and being able to create emotional states in the body. The fact that emotions are "feelings" tells us that emotions live inside our bodies. Certain body postures are associated with people who, for example, are depressed, and other body postures are associated with people who are ecstatic.

The facial feedback hypothesis in psychology, proves the release of dopamine in the brain, when an individual is smiling, creating a wave of 'happy' even when sad.

Just moving around the body, exercising, running, dancing is enough to shift your mood tremendously.

3. Refocus: What we focus on becomes bigger, in essence we fuel the thoughts we choose to focus on, magnifying the feeling behind the thought. By simply shifting our focus to move past the event, or to a more pleasant thought associated with the experience, we expand that pleasant feeling thought, and thus shift our emotional state.

4. Reframing: looking at the situation from a different perspective. Before settling on one and only one story that 'THIS is how it is', find other ways of looking at the situation. It is not mere talk that every cloud has a silver lining. This is how optimism is cultivated. See things from a different angle, one that eases your mind than tenses you up more. It's worth spending time on changing the way we feel, cause one change doesn't go in vain, it effects our future reactions as well.

5. Gratitude: Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is life transformational. Being grateful is like putting on special glasses they bring to light all the blessings in life, which were otherwise overlooked and never appreciated, even during the most trying times. Habituating appreciation for not just the things in your life but even so much as attempting to see good in everyone and everything can be empowering in shifting the way you look at things.

6. Never Assume: The point of the matter is that an emotional reaction is simply a physical reaction to a given situation based on the beliefs you harbor in your subconscious that was a result of a previous encounter of a similar experience. An example of this could be 'There is something wrong with me, that at every job, my colleagues don't like me '. This is a belief that is made strong every time a colleague forgets to greet you, or reply to your email. There is a lesson behind every emotional reaction, and to master emotions, one should cultivate the curiosity to understanding the root or core belief that pushes you to react in a certain way. Emotional reactions can teach us something about ourselves that when understood and changed can avoid similar reactions in the future.

7. Meditation: Emotional mastery goes hand in hand with self-mastery. At the core of self mastery is self awareness. Meditation is a great tool to objectively view emotions, thoughts, events and behaviors. Meditation simply inculcates the ability to become the awareness behind a thought, than the thought itself. It distances the person from the emotion or thought, in essence the observed becomes the observer, distancing from the emotion and gaining an understanding of where it arises from. Meditation quietness and brings the mind to an altered state of awareness where things make sense and where one experiences overwhelming states of calm, tranquility, peace and relaxation. Meditation however isn't just limited to sitting crossed legged, eyes closed and focused on the breath. Meditation can refer to anything that quietness and focuses the mind, from constant traffic of thoughts to one thing. This can be brought about by creating a pattern by repeating mantras, jogging, listening to music, or simply listening to the breath.

In conclusion, we are in conscious control of how we feel. Developing the ability to deal with, change or create emotions leads to emotional mastery.

Beejal Parmar Founder & Senior Partner, True Aim Solutions

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