How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

How to decrease impatience — also known as the happiness killer.

This post is the second part of a two-part series about patience. The first post is, Is Your Relationship A Curse or Curriculum?

So, what’s the purpose of cultivating patience in yourself? In a word, happiness: better relationships, more success. Well worth the effort, I’d say. But effort, indeed, it takes.

We can all work to develop more patience. An important idea here is that developing patience is just that. Developing a skill. We aren’t born with it. Think of a hungry infant, shrieking with all its red-faced, rigid-bodied impatient demand for satisfaction.

After all, we can’t just sit down at a piano and play it without ever learning to play and practicing, practicing, practicing. That practicing includes 1) paying attention to when we are not patient, 2) being kind to ourselves for not being “perfect” already, and 3) changing the automatic judgmental, critical thoughts and feelings.

Most people who are patience “professionals” recommend that we train ourselves to work with little pains and irritations so that when the big ones come, we will have developed the patience we need for adversity. Many patience-train themselves with experiences of bites and stings, rashes, heat, and cold, rain, waiting in line, driving in traffic — things that may aggravate, but are bearable.

4 Steps to Working with Impatience

1. Understanding the addictive nature of anger, irritation, outrage

As evolving humans, we are still constructed with our old reptilian brain that protects our physical and emotional survival. On the emotional survival side, we want our way, to get ahead, to achieve, to “look good.” It’s not a “bad” thing; it’s just an evolutionary older part of our brain than our newer midbrain and neocortex.

Let’s just face it — that urge to protect ourselves and what we deem valuable is absolutely addictive. Just try and not act on your urge and you’ll see what I mean. (A friend who served in Vietnam mentioned to me how soldiers in foxholes could not smack mosquitoes on their arms. The slapping sound would give their location away. In that example, there are at least two opposing pulls for survival at play, and the soldiers chose life over comfort.)

So the first step in growing patience is to get in touch with the addictive quality of the opposite of patience — anger, irritation, blaming, shaming. Usually, it starts with a slight discomfort and tensing in the stomach area that goes along with the interpretation that things are not going our way. Then the storyline of thoughts appear. “I have never seen such incompetence . how could they . don’t they realize . did they do it on purpose or are they just ignorant . blah, blah, blah.” You know the rants. We all have them. And we can grow beyond them.

2. Upgrading our attitude towards discomfort and pain

So many of us have the belief that being “comfortable” is the only state we will tolerate. I remember a friend, about 25 years ago, who was in the process of changing a destructive habit. He had learned to say to himself, “This is merely uncomfortable, not intolerable.” It helped him enormously to break his habit and helped me begin to look at my own avoidance patterns.

Pain has its purposes. It pushes us to find solutions.

Where we often go astray with the “solutions” that we try to find, is that we try to change the other person, situation, or thing that we think is causing our discomfort. But the problem is, that it is not the outside thing that’s the source of our pain, but how our mind is set. No matter how bad or good the outer thing is, it’s our mind that has the aversion or attraction. It’s our mind that is the cause of discomfort, not the outer circumstances.

In the mind-training model of dealing with the pain of irritation, the idea is to reduce the pain and suffering that our impatience gives us and to increase our ability to act in a way that has a higher probability of our achieving our goals.

So the solution to pain is an inside job.

3. Paying attention when the irritation/pain starts

Most of us don’t really realize it when we are feeling subtle — but very present — painful feelings. We ignore the fact that we are in pain and focus exclusively on fixing the problem. But to really care for ourselves, we can ask ourselves if being irritated brings us comfort other than the comfort of familiarity? Get curious about what’s actually happening in the moment inside you. I know for myself that when I am critical and impatient with anyone — including myself — it really hurts more than almost anything else.

Focusing on what’s actually happening inside you, you can notice the dread of not wanting what’s happening, the resistance.

The main thing here is to just stop the story. And as we get more and more practice attending to that vulnerability inside without fueling it with our story about how wrong it all is, how wrong they are, how wrong we are, the feeling can pass through in mere seconds.

As an example, a client once reported that she was hurt that her husband had seemed to forget her birthday. When he left for work, she started recounting all the ways in their relationship he had not met her needs, then she went on to shaming herself for being so “weak as to marry him.” She woke up and realized, “Oh, I’m just disappointed, that’s natural. But he’s a good man and I know he loves me.” She was astounded at the internal peace that showed up when she just dropped the story.

When — not if — you find yourself impatient or irritated with yourself, you can remind yourself that you are growing, and that, “Sure, this is understandable, this is what happens to me when I’m bothered.” You can say to yourself, “It’s true, I don’t like this, this is uncomfortable, but I can tolerate it. And, “I can be tolerant of my own flaws and inadequacies.”

Wow. Just imagine how it would feel if we never felt rushed, or hurt by another’s impatience with us. And how it would feel if we were never (well, almost never) irritated or impatient with someone — either someone else or ourselves. What would that be like? Is it worth practicing patience?

Emotions represent the most present, pressing, and sometimes, painful force in our lives. We are guided by our emotions every day. We assume risks because we’re excited thinking about new prospects. We cry because we’ve been hurt and we make sacrifices because we love. Undoubtedly, our emotions rule our thoughts, intentions, and actions with superior authority to our rational minds. But when we react too quickly according to our emotions, we often make decisions that we might regret later.

Our ability to handle emotions affects how we are perceived by the people around us. For example, if we are laughing or even smile during a serious meeting, we’re likely to get resentful looks from the others present in the room. Just like many other things in our life, emotions must be perceived with a sense of moderation and logical perspective.

Negative emotions, like rage, envy or bitterness, tend to get out of control. Especially immediately after they’ve been triggered. After a while, they can grow very fast, slowly conditioning the mind to function on detrimental feelings. Shortly after that, they will dominate our daily life. So how can we avoid overreacting and master our emotions under all kinds of circumstances?

Check these simple tips below to calm your fierce spirit and relax your mind.

1. Don’t react right away

Reacting immediately to emotional triggers can be a huge error. It is certain that you’ll say or do something you’ll definitely deplore later. Try to take a deep breath and steady the hysterical impulse. Keep on breathing deeply for a couple of minutes until you feel how your muscles relax and your heart rate comes back to normal. As you become calmer, try to realize that this situation is only temporary.

2. Replace your thoughts

Negative emotions make negative thoughts reappear. Whenever you have to face an emotion which is making you feel or think something bad, throw it out of your mind and supply it with a different thought. You can think about someone who makes you happy or remember an event or situation that made you smile.

“If we allow our emotions to dictate the ways we should live our lives, this can lead to anxiety and depression. It may even have a negative impact on our health and our relationships. As an empathetic person who feels things deeply, I have learned this lesson the hard way,” confesses Dina Indelicato, a regular contributor to Pick Writers.

3. Find a healthy escape

Once your emotion is handled, you’ll need to release it in a healthy way. Emotions should never be suppressed. You should call somebody or go see someone you trust and tell them what happened. Hearing a different opinion from yours develops your awareness. For example, you can discover your authentic self and to live more abundantly using writing tools.

You can conceive your own “Happy Book” and fill it with thrilling and peaceful memories. You can write down inspirational quotes next to photos from different happy moments you had in the past. This activity will help free your being from any repressed sentiments.

4. Be aware and forgive your emotional generators

Your emotional prompts may be your best friend, your family members, etc. Avoid toxic people! It is so difficult to control our emotions when we spend time with persons that push our buttons in the wrong way. Forgive them! When you excuse someone, you detach. You disconnect yourself from the resentment, the jealousy, the envy or rage within you.

5. See the larger picture

Every event in our life, either good or bad, is part of a higher purpose. Wisdom is what you need now! You must be able to analyze the past and pull out the meaning of any given situation. You might not understand it from the very beginning, but, after a while, you will be able to see the larger picture. And you will then realize that there exists an ultimate purpose in everything we do.

Self-control isn’t as difficult to achieve as we think. Emotions can either rule our lives or we can control them. Worrying about everything and losing your temper contribute to a very unhappy life. They eventually will cause you more stress and they will ruin your health and life. In the end, all the efforts you will make to control your negative emotions will actually teach you that you decide if you feel good or not.

How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”

William S. Burroughs

Patience can be a struggle.

I know this firsthand. My experience with impatience used to be confined to overusing the microwave or skipping to the end of a long novel.

Back then, when waiting at a traffic light for more than two minutes seemed like an eternity, I didn’t know that life would teach me several advanced lessons in patience.

Shortly after finishing my morning bike ride I started feeling queasy. I wondered what was happening, but tried to ignore the feeling. The queasiness was replaced with severe abdominal pain, and I had to be rushed to the hospital.

Waiting in the emergency room for hours while in deep physical pain was a first test of patience. I passed the test because I had no other option. I couldn’t wait to be told I had indigestion and to be sent back home.

When the ER doctor came into my tiny room and announced they would need to perform an appendectomy, I didn’t ask if I would be okay. Instead, I asked, “When will I heal? How long is it going to take?”

Smiling, the doctor answered, “Two weeks.” I panicked. I could not possibly be in bed for two weeks! But the two weeks turned into four, and by the fourth week, I had finally learned my first advanced lesson: to be humble.

My experience recovering from surgery taught me to slow down and to listen to my body, and once I allowed myself to relax, the healing happened.

A few years later I was tested again, and this test would prove itself to be one of the hardest challenges in my life. I lost one of the people closest to me. This was someone who I thought would always be there for me.

Beyond devastated, I fell into a depression. It wasn’t an immobilizing depression, but it led me to a period of deep grief and sadness.

Weeks and months went by, but my negative feelings seemed to remain unchanged. Anxiety and fear crept in. I wanted to heal, but it wasn’t happening. The most pressing question in my head was, “When am I finally going to heal?”

People would tell me, “You’ll be fine,” or “This too shall pass.” I listened to them, acknowledged their good intentions, and understood the message they wanted to convey. And yet, healing still didn’t happen.

I was not able to heal until I was willing to be patient with myself and my emotions.

It was only when I let the feelings be and stopped putting a timeframe to my healing that I created the space my soul needed to receive the answer to my question: When will I heal?

The first answer I received is that in a universe in which everything is in divine order, things might not happen as quickly as we want them to happen.

The second answer is that, in order to heal, we need to take down the subconscious wall of anxiety built by our impatience. Once I took down this wall, grief lost its power over me.

When I became patient, I realized I was in control, and once I gained control, emotional and spiritual healing started to manifest.

Regardless of how fast I was healing, I wasn’t concerned about how quickly it happened. A Course in Miracles says, “Infinite patience produces immediate results.” The result I achieved by being patient was peace, and peace was automatic healing.

So, whether you’re trying to lose weight, take on exercise, learn a new skill at work, or adjust to a cross-country move, keep the word patience in your mind.

Allow yourself to be still, and remember that if you’re aligned with who you really are, all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place at the right time.

Spend some time in silence, and listen to the voice of your intuition, which is the voice of your true self. Sometimes you won’t be able to hear that voice, so be patient. Trust that you will receive the answers you seek in time.

Finally, celebrate the small milestones: a pound lost, a mile ran, a spreadsheet done, a new neighbor met, a happy moment. As Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

By: June Silny

July 21, 2015

In the last blog, I talked about the benefits of mind control and how we distract ourselves when the negative voice gets too loud. Hopefully by now you are ready to receive the “how-to” steps for silencing that voice and taking back control of your mind.

For those of you with ADHD or if you love someone who has it, please understand that ADHD thoughts are longer, stronger and harder to control. The ADHD brain is wired for repetition. Rumination sets in. When that happens, it’s even harder to stop. But don’t give up; it is possible to control.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a negative voice inside his head. It’s part of life. It’s called free will. It gives you the chance to make smart choices, improve your self and grow to become a better version of yourself.

(We’ll talk about that in the next blog … BECOMING FRIENDS WITH YOUR NEGATIVE VOICE)

But until those benefits happen, you have to deal with negative thoughts that ambush you all day and night. Sometimes they hide in the depths of your subconscious mind, and at other times they are right in front of your face. During the day, negative thinking is more manageable. You are distracted by work, family, and responsibility. Then night rolls around, and you think you’re ok. You fall asleep but four hours later, you are jolted awake staring into the darkness. Did you ever notice that your negative voices are louder in the dark?

That’s when you lose control. Your twisted thoughts distort reality. Not knowing what to do, you sit back and watch the horror movie in your mind. Helpless and spiraling out of control, you try hard but can’t stop the frightening images your imagination has created.

Since negative thoughts are sneaky, and they appear in disguise, they show up as fear, doubt, or anxiety. Just one small thought and your imagination is triggered, tumbling into a wild whirling cyclone that knocks you off your feet. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can change your thought process.

TAKING BACK CONTROL

Mind control is a character strength that improves the quality of your life. You may not be able to stop the initial trigger thought, but you can take back the controls and not succumb to them. You don’t have to get swept away.

Here’s how to get a grip on it:

1. Be aware. Be prepared.

When you are aware, you are mentally strong enough to fight off the thoughts you don’t want. Negative thinking happens to everyone. No one (that I know) can escape the initial trigger thought. What matters most is what happens after it that one thought. I’m not saying that you should become anxious waiting for negativity to arrive, it just means that when you are aware, you recognize when that trigger thought happens and knock it out immediately. The more aware you are, the quicker you grab hold of your mind and take back the control.

2. Name it.

When you are stuck in negativity, and feel yourself falling into dark thoughts, stop the cycle by naming it. Whether you whisper it, or say it out loud, naming it causes a separation in your subconscious mind. That is enough to break the cycle. When I was suffering from panic attacks, naming what was happening is what saved me. The negative force is strong but you can be stronger. Name it to stop the cycle.

3. Fear is illogical.

I remember when I was having hurricane shutters put up on my 14th-floor apartment. The workmen were hanging on ropes on the side of the building. There was no balcony beneath them or anything to fall onto, except the ground below. When they finished, they came into the apartment. I was standing there with my sweet, gentle 85-pound Labrador on a leash when one of the high-flying workers freaked out. He was so afraid of my dog; he wouldn’t step foot in the apartment. He’d rather stay on the balcony railing 14 stories high (where he jumped to) than come near my dog. I had to take my dog to another room so he could come in. It taught me an important lesson; a person can be incredibly brave in one aspect of life, and illogically fearful in another. Fear makes no sense.

4. Erase and Replace.

Sometimes just saying, “erase and replace” is enough. It’s a positive mantra that kicks out negativity and makes room for positive thoughts to enter. It also helps to have a “replace” statement ready for use when you need it. One word is all you need. You may choose, “stop” or “no” or “go.” Chant it. Repeat it over and over again. Scream it, sing it, or be creative. Find a replacement word or phrase that will stop the negative cyclone. Other simple and helpful phrases are, let go or everything is fine. Find a replacement that will stop the negativity. Isn’t that why the song from Frozen become so popular? Even little kids subconsciously appreciate the importance of letting go.

5. Do a reality check.

Many times I’ve given myself a gentle pat on my face just to snap back to reality. The imagination is a strong force when the negative thought cyclone gets hold of it. You believe what you think. When in reality, it’s just a movie you have created in your mind. And if you’re a creative person; your creations are intense, making them more realistic. If you’re into statistics, this one is easy. What are the chances of your visions becoming reality? Sadly, our loved ones put themselves in situations that haunt us all day and night. So it’s up to you to wipe out those thoughts and bring yourself back to reality.

6. Present Moment Mindfulness

If you are going to take control of your thoughts, you need a mental support system. Present Moment Mindfulness works instantly. When you are caught up in the negative whirlwind, recognize it, erase and replace, and bring your attention to whatever you are doing. If you are washing the dishes and feel your mind meandering onto a dark path, notice what you are doing and whisper it, I am washing the dishes. I feel the soap bubbling on my hands. The water feels warm, and then let yourself go with it. It sounds silly at first, but it really works. My favorite phrase from a meditation I used to teach is… breathing in I feel calm, breathing out I feel ease. Calm, ease, calm, ease.

7. It’s your choice.

Remember, this is your freedom of choice; your chance to determine which path you want to take-who you want to be with, what career you want to be in, and what you want to eat for dinner. It’s up to you. You get to choose how long the negativity stays in your mind.

Let me know if you can do it! It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

– See more from June Silny’s blog: junesilny.com

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

To view HUNDREDS of articles and videos on ADD/ADHD, go to addrc.org

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How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

As someone who teaches mindfulness and meditation, one of the key motivations I hear from people who want to learn is “I want to control my thoughts.”

Other variations include “I want to stop thinking negative thoughts,” or “I want to make myself think more positive.”

Pursuing this motivation leads to a great deal of frustration — not just when it comes to mindfulness and meditation, but when it comes to general self-improvement (the amount of self-help books espousing “positive thinking” could fill a large room…if not a small library).

The frustration stems from one major drawback when it comes to trying to control thoughts: you can’t do it.

Before this digresses into a debate over free will, I would encourage you to explore where thoughts come from. What causes the next thought to pop into your head? Sure, sometimes a thought related to your immediate environment or the task at hand materializes and seemingly “fits” with what is happening. Other times, thoughts appear random and can range from something that happened to you in grade school to the guy who cut you off in traffic last week.

The bottom line is, thoughts come and go. Trying to control what thoughts occur when, or trying to stop certain thoughts from happening altogether, is a poor use of your time and energy.

Side note: trying NOT to think of something actually makes it more likely that you will. It’s called Ironic process theory , and refers to the psychological process whereby deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts make them more likely to surface.

There is good news, however. If you accept that you can’t control thoughts, you can focus your efforts on what you can do: you can strengthen awareness of them, and develop the skill of observing mind-made activity without getting caught up in it. In doing so, you learn to interrupt the process that leads to conditioned behavior and habitual actions and reactions.

Through practice, you can become better at watching thoughts as they come into being, exist, and cease. This is the essence of meditation. The first thing you will notice is there is a constant dialogue in your head. You may have caught glimpses of it before, but — most likely — you never realized the extent of its presence. We are usually aware of only a small portion of what actually goes on in our minds at any given time.

Self-experiment: if you want to prove (or try to dis-prove) this to yourself, start a timer for 10 minutes, sit down with a pen and paper, and write down every thought you have. Most people don’t make it the entire 10 minutes!

Your mind is constantly going. Thoughts and emotions arise and — if you mindlessly indulge them — lead to habitual actions and reactions. This process unfolds moment after moment after moment. But, awareness allows you to slow it down, observe it, and disrupt it. It allows you to stop mindlessly indulging it.

By watching thoughts and emotions, you can learn not to cling to them and make them “mine.” You can learn not to get swept away by them. And, you can recognize them for what they are: temporary appearances in consciousness.

They arise and they pass, even though your mind tries to make you believe they are permanent (when you are experiencing anxiety or depression, for example, you believe it will never pass…which makes it even worse).

But, you don’t have to dwell on — or wallow in — any of it. You don’t have follow it down a path that results in the same old outcomes.

With consistent practice, you’ll discover for yourself that the content of your mind does not matter. What matters is how you let it affect you. Thoughts and emotions are like clouds floating across the sky: instead of getting lost in them, you can choose to watch them come and go. They only hold power over you if you continue to blindly follow them wherever they lead.

Unfortunately, people usually go through life like this — operating on autopilot, being dragged around by their minds. As a result, their daily existence is mired in what we commonly refer to as “the struggles of life”: stress, anxiety, worry, fear, depression, self-doubt, et cetera.

You don’t have to live on autopilot, though. You can strengthen awareness, become proficient at observing mind-made activity, and stop being at the mercy of the next thought, emotion, or urge that pops into your head.

The more you practice, the better you get. And, life can improve dramatically as a result.

If you’re like the rest of us, you spend a lot of time trying to “fix” everything that’s wrong in your life. But, you tend to ignore your mind, which is more often than not the root cause of those problems you’re trying to fix.

​We experience every single moment of life with our minds. And, it’s our minds that create the majority of our struggles and suffering. Reality is, no matter where you go or what you do, you can’t escape your mind.

The good news is, you don’t have to!

You only need to understand how your mind works, and learn to stop getting lost in the non-stop thoughts running through your head. ​​​​​We wrote “Your inner narrative” to help you do exactly that, and you can read more about it here ( includes a free preview).​

If you found this article helpful, we kindly ask you share it in some way.

Like this? Follow our Medium publication — Mindful stuff — for similar stories.

How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

To say patience is a virtue is an understatement. It’s really more of a skill—one that can be learned and needs constant nurturing.

Patience is the state of being that occurs between experience and reaction. Whether you’re trying to be patient with yourself, others, or life, it seems to always involve the experience of dealing with delays or obstacles.

By cultivating a practice of patience, you’re able to let go of things outside your control and live with less stress, anxiety, and frustration.

It’s not an easy practice, but here are a few perspectives on how to cultivate patience to open up new possibilities.

Practicing Patience with Yourself

When you look at what it means to have patience, you’re ultimately talking about dealing with your own thoughts and emotions. As a spiritual being, there is an unbounded, limitless presence within you that is constantly seeking expression.

As a time-bound, physical being, you have limitations for expressing this inner knowledge—constantly seeking instant gratification and spontaneous movement that doesn’t exist in the physical realm.

You think, act, and experience, and this should be the simplicity of life. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Problems arise when what you think and do doesn’t seem to produce immediate results.

But the most important thing to focus on is the word “seem.” The wisdom handed down through the ages supports the idea that every heartfelt intention and desire is met with support from the Universe, and then, as an individual, you make decisions that affect your experience.

Maybe it’s time to look inward and ask why you don’t have patience with yourself. Ask yourself:

  • What does it mean to be patient with myself?
  • What benefits would I experience by being patient with myself?
  • What can I do to become more patient with myself?

Remember that patience is the ability to not be troubled by life’s changes, delays, or other undesirables. It’s the ability to maintain stillness in the midst of disappointment.
Try to practice self-awareness in those moments where you feel the greatest need for patience.

  • Pay attention to what arises in you
  • Notice where you feel the stress
  • Listen to your thoughts
  • Take note of your emotions

A powerful benefit to practicing patience is that you cultivate the peace of mind to guide yourself out of these moments. Even the simple act of looking within at a time when you’re feeling impatient can be healing.
Use awareness to maintain your calm. Tap into your stillness and preserve it. See these moments of self-reflection as opportunities to strengthen yourself in self-control and grace.

Practicing Patience with Others

Cultivating patience with others is an entirely different challenge. Other people are always acting, thinking, and feeling in ways that are potentially disagreeable.

Since everyone has a right to personal freedom, no one has the right to hinder others from their life or personal self-expression—no matter how much you’d like to sometimes. It’s hard to simply live and let live.

The problem with this is that you’re constantly surrounded by other people and the ways you live your life will be different. The gift of living through patience, however, is that you become less reactionary.

When others let you down or irritate you, be patient with them. Gently express love and stillness. Remember that they are growing—just like you—and that life is a process.

Whatever issues you may have with another person are more than likely temporary and will undoubtedly change once you let go of your own agenda. What disturbs you now about this person may change and in the next moment you may laugh with them or feel some other positive emotion.

Regardless of what other people do or think, you have a choice in how you allow it to affect you. Your mind may jump to negative notions and reactions, your body may even register a response, but you are the source of it all. Ultimately you can tap into your stillness, your peace.

Remember this and from this have patience. You are one with the eternal. The things, people, and situations in your life change. Patience is an expression of this awareness and of love.

Practicing Patience with Life

Gaining patience can be transformative to your overall life experience. So much of life is about awareness, growth, and learning—these are the things that are always going on behind the scenes.

When you want things to happen in your life, you can prolong the process by giving your attention and energy to the frustration you feel about waiting. The waiting is not the problem. It’s how you deal with it, how you see it.

Practicing patience shifts your attention away from the stress and frustration. Acting with patience is a way of telling life that you are in charge. You are in no hurry, there is no distress—only peace and confidence in your truth.

This is a regal trait—one of strength and majesty over your life’s circumstances. The Universe will respond to this attitude with support and cooperation.

Discover the simplest way to bring into crystal clear focus who you really are at our 7-day meditation and yoga workshop, Seduction of Spirit. Discover how subtle changes can shift your entire perspective on life. Click here to learn more.

How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

This article provides practical advice on how to recognize, express and control emotional behaviour during your negotiations.

Many negotiations, due to their nature, can create and foster strong negative emotions. Where individuals meet to primarily promote their self-interests or where the past histories of the parties involved have been coloured by acrimony, it is not surprising that often emotions are more powerful than the facts in shaping the course and outcome of the negotiations. However without emotions it would be impossible for people to reconcile important conflicts. Emotions motivate us to act and keep us working hard to settle differences. The problems emerge when we allow emotion to affect the way we negotiate. To negotiate well we need to step back and consider the big picture. We need to be able to view the issues and discussions rationally – to be able to balance emotion with reason. So how do we deal with emotions in a way that allows us to control our emotions and, where appropriate, express them constructively?

1. Acceptance and awareness

To be human is to feel, and there is nothing wrong with having emotions. Accept that feelings are normal and natural. Often however we are unaware of our emotions. And if we are unaware of what we are feeling then most likely we are unaware of the feelings of others. The hallmark of emotional intelligence, the single best predictor of success in life, is to understand our own feelings and those of others. It is important to realise that feelings usually come in bundles – some are obvious and some are more difficult to find. In order to tease apart all of the feelings we may be experiencing, it is necessary to become familiar with the spectrum of feelings that are not readily discovered – these include hurt, shame, fear, self-doubt, sadness, jealousy, and loneliness. Often we may suppress or deny our emotions – especially if they are feelings we do not like to admit having. However, suppression of feelings, particularly strong emotions, usually leads to leakage or bursts. They will come out, often in the most inappropriate way and at the most awkward time. Since our body is closely tied to our emotions, one way to become more aware of our emotions is to notice how our body is behaving. Headaches and aching muscles in the neck and shoulders may indicate panic, a tight chest may signal fear, a racing heart and perspiration usually signal emotions akin to anger, and fatigue and slowed speech suggest sadness. By learning how our body reveals our inner emotional state, we can not only be more aware of what we are feeling but most likely will discover the onset of emotional states more quickly.

2. How to Deal with Extreme Emotion

In general when some feeling inside seems to be growing larger and out of control, naming or identifying that feeling internally will, by itself, tend to diminish the feeling and bring it under control. It also helps to be able to adopt the stance of a detached observer. This allows perspective to analyse the emotions and think of ways of dealing with them. It is important to note that even awareness and recognition of emotions may not be enough to control behaviour. Due to the way the human brain operates sometimes very strong emotions, such as fear or rage, may lead us to act before we have consciously decided what to do. Also most of our blood goes to our extremities when we experience anger – so although we are well prepared for a physical fight, our problem solving abilities will not be at their best, to say the least. If a person is able to avoid reacting immediately, buying some time is always a good way to deal with surging emotions. Some techniques for buying time include hitting an imaginary pause button or taking an actual physical break. The mental pause button can be triggered any time you begin feeling uncomfortable or when heavy emotions are starting to surge. Common ways to take a physical break include a trip to the wash-room or a break for lunch or coffee. If a longer time period is needed, the negotiations can be stopped and another meeting or telephone call scheduled later. This also permits the time to become a detached observer – to figure out what we are feeling and why. Be aware that emotions are not fixed – they can be altered by negotiating with them. Since our feelings are related to our thoughts and perceptions, we can change our feelings by changing our thoughts and perceptions. By changing the beliefs and information that underlie our thoughts and perceptions, we can shift our feelings. Hot feelings, which are less adaptable and rational, can be changed to cool feelings, which are healthier and less volatile. For example, anger can be changed to annoyance and irritation, depression to sadness, severe guilt to regret, and anxiety to concern.

3. Expressing Emotion

Once we are fully aware and have consciously recognised our emotions, we can decide whether to express them. Although there is nothing wrong with having emotions, expressing them by inappropriate means can be damaging and counterproductive. If we decide to express our emotions to the other side – we must express them appropriately. Don’t vent. Be concise. Describe your feelings carefully. Don’t attribute blame or judge- just share. Try to relate the emotional tone to the substantive issue. Develop a range of expression – from rational discussion to increasing emotional content to letting your emotions take control. Emotions provide important information to us and to the other side. If we are able to express our emotions in a constructive way and at an appropriate time in the negotiation, rather than destroying or hurting the negotiation process, your negotiation skills will be far above average.

4. Gender, Emotion and Negotiation

Here are some negotiation gender difference generalisations: in many societies, we are taught that woman should not allow their emotions to show, especially when negotiating with men. In business emotional displays can hurt. In many socieities a man who raises his voice can be considered a tough guy who has simply lost his cool. Whereas a woman who raises her voice can be seen as someone who cannot control herself. A man who weeps can be viewed with compassion (as long as it does not happen too often) whereas a woman who cries may be branded “overly emotional”. These cultural and gender stereotypes typically take a great deal of time to change. So it’s best to be aware of them, especially when negotiating internationally.

How can this translate in your negotiations? To gain and keep the respect we need to negotiate on an equal basis in business. For their part, woman (and men) can do well to take a break and leave the room before showing heated emotions. Remaining rational at all times during a negotiation is highly prized in business, and thus having your head hold sway over your heart at the negotiation table is the way to keep the respect we deserve and have earned.

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Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania.

How to learn patience to get your thoughts and feelings under control

If you have PTSD, you may experience very strong feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, guilt, or shame, to name only a few.   When you feel several of these PTSD emotions in quick succession, it can be very hard to know what you’re feeling at any given moment.

If it often happens that you don’t know what you’re feeling, you may be headed for problems such as:

  • Being unable to manage your emotions and stay in control
  • Choosing unhealthy coping skills, such as avoidance or self-medication with illegal drugs or alcohol
  • Feeling out of control and anxious about what emotions are coming up next

In extremely upsetting situations, some people may use dissociation (“blanking out,” or feeling that your emotions are disconnected from you) to distance themselves from all aspects of an emotion.

Understanding Your Feelings

When you know exactly what you’re feeling, you have the right information to figure out how to make yourself feel better. You can choose the way to cope with your PTSD emotions that are most likely to be effective.

But, you may wonder, aren’t treatment methods effective? Yes, but not every healthy coping strategy works the same for every emotional experience. For example, expressive writing might work better for sadness than for anger, whereas taking a “time-out” would probably be more effective for escalating feelings of hostility.

How can you identify exactly what you’re feeling? First, you need to know the different forms emotions can take.

Aspects of an Emotion

Every emotion has three parts:

  • Behavior: The action you feel like taking when you’re feeling an emotion
  • Sensations: The physical changes in your body (for example, increased heart rate, or nausea) when you’re feeling an emotion
  • Thoughts: Ideas or images that pop into your head when you’re feeling an emotion

If you’re like most people, with or without PTSD, you probably haven’t been aware of the three parts of your emotions or the different ways those parts may affect how you feel.

For example, sometimes one part, such as uncomfortable thoughts, can “come on” so strongly that it’s difficult to get in touch with the others. If you were to experience this, you might simply try to push away or suppress your uncomfortable thoughts, which, of course, would keep you from identifying them and choosing an appropriate coping strategy that would make you feel better.

Identifying Your Emotions

Listed below are some forms that the three parts of commonly-felt PTSD emotions may take.

  • Behaviors: Getting away from a situation, “freezing,” crying
  • Sensations: Racing heart, “tunnel vision,” shortness of breath
  • Thoughts: “I’m in danger. Something terrible is going to happen.”

Sadness

  • Behaviors: Isolating yourself, crying
  • Sensations: Low energy, slower heart rate, nausea
  • Thoughts: “My situation is never going to change. I’m all alone in this.”

Anger

  • Behaviors: Yelling, picking a fight, slamming doors
  • Sensations: Racing heart, muscle tension, jaw clenching
  • Thoughts: “Life is unfair. Everyone’s out to get me.”

Next time you experience an emotion, try to identify all three parts of it. (If you can’t, knowing even one or two can be helpful.) Then match them up against this list to see if you’re feeling one of these three common PTSD emotions. If you don’t get a match, use the three parts you’ve identified to further investigate what you’re feeling.

Coping Strategies to Match Your Emotion

Once you’ve identified at least one or two thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviors connected to an emotion you’re feeling, you can start thinking about the type of coping strategy that might be best for managing it.

For example, if you’re experiencing an emotion that causes increased heart rate and muscle tension, you may want to try a coping strategy to bring those physical sensations down, such as progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing.

Now that you’ve learned how to identify your PTSD emotions, hopefully you’re feeling better about managing them. Fortunately you can choose from a number of healthy coping strategies.

Some things in life are out of your control. You may run into people you don’t get along with at a party, or have to wait forever in line for a cup of coffee. A flight might get canceled at least once in your lifetime, and you have to trust that fate will find your soulmate. You’d rather know exactly how a situation is going to play out, rather than seeing what happens later on. The things you can’t control in life can seriously disrupt your peace of mind, though. Learn how to let go of them as soon as possible.

Your new favorite phrase should be, “It is what it is.” This line tells the world that you’ve accepted the current situation in its entirety, and are ready to move on. You’re leaving behind your worries and stresses for a simpler option, and not wasting your energy on something that wasn’t ever in your hands. Let me tell you: The second you make this shift, you’ll find a whole lot of happiness and be a bit more positive, too.

The only thing you have control over is yourself. You can take charge of your decisions, attitude, and reactions — but that’s about it. Figuring out other people’s problems, or every part of a conversation will be exhausting after a while. So, pinky promise me that you’ll learn to let go of these seven things in life, purely because they’re not in your control.

1. Change

On the one hand, one of the worst things about life is that everything changes, even the good things. On the other hand, the beautiful thing about life is that nothing stays the same. So, your most chaotic weeks and Mercury retrograde won’t be around forever. (Phew!)

As much as you wish time was in your hands, it’s not. The sun will set on amazing memories, and you’ll wake up to a brand new day, where anything could happen. It sounds intimidating, and you’re probably wondering what you can do to make change slow down. Truth is, you just have to learn to go with the flow, and look at these differences as opportunities to do something new and exciting with life.

2. The Weather

Some days, you’ll wake up to a whole lot of rain or piles of snow. Your beach plans will get put aside, or you’ll have to skip out on coffee just to clean off your car. At first, you’ll be so frustrated at the world, and complaining to all of your friends. But, don’t let that feeling linger all day long, because the weather is out of your control.

You have to just make the most of a rainy day, and try to find the bright side. Let go of what could’ve been, and move around your schedule a bit. The downpour has to stop at some point — am I right?

3. Traffic

Always be prepared to hit some traffic. Right now, you may try to find alternative routes before you leave the house, and that’s a great idea. But, sometimes the situation will be out of your control. You’ll run into a bunch of cars and instantly go into stress mode. Truth is, waiting can be the worst, but your mindset can make it better.

Especially when you’re in a rush to get somewhere, you seemingly always hit a jam on the highway. You’re bumper-to-bumper with the cars around you, and in the moment, there’s nowhere to go. You could complain your way through it, or learn to accept it. At this point, you’ll get there when you get there.

4. The Past

The past is the past. You can’t change it, and whatever has happened is out of your control. Growing up, you may have learned this lesson from Rafiki in The Lion King. He hit Simba on the head, and taught him how to move on. At the time, you didn’t know how important this lesson is when it comes to life.

Truth is, the past can hurt, but it’s also whatever you make of it. You can choose to let those embarrassing memories go, or hold onto them forever. You may hold onto your favorite moments from the past, and let them fuel your passions in the future. That’s OK, too. Just make sure you’re doing whatever is best for you, based on the present moment and who you are as a person now — not back then.

5. The Future

The future, like the past, isn’t in your control. You can try and put together a five-year plan, or figure out where you’ll be every step of the way. But, truth is, there’s bound to be at least one thing that happens that wasn’t on your itinerary. Maybe you’ll end up falling in love, or unexpectedly finding a city that you’d like to call home. You may change your career path, or decide to pursue your wildest dreams. These things are unexpected, and honestly the best parts of life.

Learn to let go of where you think you’re supposed to be, and focus on where you are right now. After all, you can control your actions and reactions in the present moment.

6. Other People’s Minds

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “No duh, you can’t control someone else’s mind!” Yes, I understand it sounds straight out of the comic books. But, hear me out, because you’re likely guilty of trying to take charge of other people’s thoughts and feelings, too.

You may have been in a relationship where your significant other started to feel a different way, or a conversation where the other person doesn’t agree with your opinion. You tried to convince them for hours to see things differently, but it’s entirely out of your control. Learn to let it go and focus on how you react in these situations instead.

7. Other People’s Happiness

As much as you want your friends and family to be happy, it’s out of your control. Sure, you could send your bestie some memes, or take your mom out to lunch when she’s feeling a little stressed. But, in the long run, it’s completely up to them to turn that frown upside down.

You have to let go of their problems and focus on your own positivity instead. Help them find the bright side in a sticky situation, but then back off and protect your own peace of mind.

You’ll be exhausted and drained if you keep playing the role of fate. So, realize that you’re human, and put yourself first when you can. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and learning to let go of what you can’t control is key.