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Making choices means taking proactive steps to control the outcomes we experience in our lives. Our choices define us and what we want, showing who we are to the world. They also affect how much we trust ourselves. When we think about both our own needs and others' before reacting and deciding, we're more likely to make good choices.


Social situations involve different standpoints, and considering others' feelings when making choices or reacting usually leads to good outcomes for everyone involved. This helps build better relationships because it shows understanding and encourages further engagement.

So, picture this: It's Friday afternoon, last class before the weekend trip you've been looking forward to with a friend. Then, the teacher drops the bomb: there's a test on Monday. You're probably feeling frustrated, maybe even mad. You've been prepping for this weekend getaway all week, and now this!

But how do you handle it? You might want to burst out, complaining it's unfair. But you know you have to keep it together for now and talk to your friend later.

And if you're one who could not stay calm, don't worry. Dealing with strong emotions takes practice, but everyone can get better at it over time.


Learning How to React Well

Before we can get better at making thoughtful choices instead of reacting emotionally, it's important to know why we react the way we do. Understanding the science behind our reactions can help us manage our responses.

When we're emotionally triggered, the part of our brain responsible for logical thinking shuts down, while the part that deals with emotions switches on. This happens because our brain's fear center, the amygdala, gets activated automatically when it senses danger. It triggers the "freeze, fight, or flight" (FFF) response without us even realizing it.

This response floods our body with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, gearing us up to deal with the perceived threat. It slows down things like digestion and sharpens our senses, making us more alert and ready to react quickly. This hyper-focused state can make it hard to think about anything else until the FFF response dissipates.

Managing emotional reactions is about controlling how and when we express our feelings. People who handle emotions well understand that it's okay to express what they feel, but they're careful about how they do it. They:

- Choose their reactions instead of letting emotions take over.

- Know when it's best to speak up and when it's better to wait before acting on what they feel.

- Realize that how they react affects what happens after and how others see them.

You've probably seen someone react too emotionally, making you uncomfortable. Or maybe you've struggled with strong emotions yourself. It's normal to slip up sometimes. When it happens, forgive yourself and think about how you can handle it better next time.


Emotions: A Refresher

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is like a toolkit for managing our feelings and reactions. It's made up of different skills that we can work on to become better at handling our emotions. Even if you're already good at some aspects of EQ, like reacting well to situations, there are basic skills anyone can practice to improve.

First, emotional awareness. This is about being able to recognize and identify the emotions we're feeling at any given moment. Sometimes, just naming the emotion can help us feel more in control.

Second, understanding and accepting emotions. Understanding means knowing why we feel a certain way. For example, if we feel left out, understanding might be realizing it's because we weren't invited to something. Accepting emotions is about not blaming others or judging ourselves for feeling something. Instead, we give ourselves a little kindness and understanding, recognizing that our feelings are reasonable and that it's okay to feel that way.

Once we've learned these basics, we can better manage how we react when we're hit with strong emotions. Plus, practicing these skills can help us move past difficult emotions more quickly.


How Would You React?

Imagine this: Your friends are all getting exciting news or invites, like college acceptances or promposals. But you have not. How do you handle it?

1) You could mope around, hoping someone notices and asks what's up.

2) Or maybe you start gossiping about the event or the people who got invites, pretending you don't care.

3) Or you confide in a friend, admitting you feel left out but still considering going with friends.

4) Remind yourself that you still have the choice to stay positive, truly believing it is not the end of the world.

Think about each reaction and what might happen next. Which one would lead to the best outcome?

Remember, we can always choose how we react. Once we realize that, it's easier to make choices that turn out well.

Marcia Reynolds Psy.D. in "How to Manage Your Emotional Reactions," offers three effective ways to improve the way we regulate emotional responses.

Reynolds says that every time you repeat your reaction to something, you're basically teaching your brain a habit. And the longer you've had that habit, the harder it is to change.


There are three steps to change these reactions and each one requires discipline.

Step ONE is changing what you believe about yourself. You've got to truly believe you can change how you react. If you don't, your brain will make it hard for you to stick to your plan. Practicing gradually builds up that new habit.

Step TWO is knowing why you want to change. Just saying you want to be a better person isn't enough. You need to know what you'll get out of it. Will it improve relationships that are important to you?  Will this help you become more focused at work? Will this focus help you achieve something worthwhile? Will you be able to sleep better and feel more at ease in your own body?

Step THREE is starting small. Pick two situations where you want to react differently, but make sure they're not too tough. Break down your goal into small steps you can celebrate when you achieve them. Each step should be a small behavior that moves you closer to your goal.

For example, if you want to be a better listener in your family, you might start by taking a deep breath before reacting to someone. Then, you build on that by noticing and being curious about what they're really saying, and so on.

The idea is to practice these small changes until they become automatic habits, and that's how you change your reactions over time.


Expressing emotions in healthy ways takes discipline and time, but we can all get better at it with practice. And that's definitely something to be proud of!

If you need a professional to help you practice the skills and build up the discipline of emotions regulation, contact JarvisHypnotherapy today.



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