Can you control your emotions?

Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat
GWR@newmex.com
Posted 5/30/19

This column seeks to help educate our community about grief and the process of emotional healing. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and …

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Can you control your emotions?

Posted

This column seeks to help educate our community about grief and the process of emotional healing. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

Dear Dr. Ted:

I happen to be a sensitive person and have many people tell me this is not a good trait. I can't seem to control my emotions and I can even feel guilty for what I'm feeling. As I grew up, I was often told to not to feel a certain way and that confused me. Can someone truly control their emotions?

Thank you, Jack

Dear Jack:

Thank you for your question as it is something that is brought up quite often in many different scenarios. Emotions are a natural part of your being and have a major part within your life. Some people may be more cognitively dominant and seem less emotional while others are more emotional. Many of us have become disconnected and confuse emotions with behaviors. You may not be able to control your emotions, but you do have the ability to control your behaviors. Emotions are only feelings that arise for many conscious and unconscious reasons.

Identifying emotions such as feeling sad, mad, glad, happy, angry, excited, jealous, remorseful, giddy, silly and any other feeling is an important aspect of your life and by recognizing your emotions you can navigate your behaviors better than when you are unaware of your internal process. Our brain responds to emotions and when you become emotionally dysregulated, your cognitive function decreases as any emotional escalation activates those areas of your brain that keep you alive, which places you in a reactive mode of behavior.

When you are in your higher functioning part of your brain, you are able to be creative, choose your actions, have more empathy for others (as well as yourself), communicate your needs and wants, love, have spirituality, connect with others in a healthy manner and other ways that allow you to find meaning and strive for a better life. Becoming conscious of your feelings, helps you spend more time in your frontal lobe (the higher functioning part of your brain) as you can then be aware of what is going on around you.

Remembering that you do not control your emotions, but have the ability to control your behaviors is very important. This gives you permission to feel, and in feeling, you can be more present in experiencing the world around you and have more choice of your actions.

Feelings can also help you heal old wounds that arise. As you become conscious of your feelings you will have a higher ability to decide if your feelings match what is going on the present moment or if they are not congruent with what is going on around you. Being connected with your emotions can allow you the ability to enjoy life, have a higher level of internal serenity and, possibly, wreak less havoc on the people around you as you respond from a conscious place rather than an unconscious reaction. Feelings bring the world to life and allow you to experience the ups and downs but truly live from your truth internally and externally.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at GWR@newmex.com.

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