Paying attention to our emotions and the signals they send is essential to self-management. We must invest time to develop a strategy to deliver a rational response.
How often have you been in a situation that stirred your emotions?
Perhaps it was when you were asked a question you weren't comfortable answering or received an upsetting email? Naturally, our emotions send us instinctive signs causing us to react. However, we need to develop a rational strategy to prevent becoming emotionally hijacked.
Emotions play a significant role in our life; they guide every decision we make. Developing your emotional intelligence by learning to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions will inevitably change how you make decisions.
A strategy for dealing with difficult emotions!
A fantastic strategy that promotes rational thinking is the 24-hour rule, also known as 'sleeping on it,' This strategy provides time to consider a question or situation and allows you to respond without unintended emotion calmly and rationally.
Keep in mind that emotions enter the brain through the spinal column at the back of the neck and travel to the middle of the brain entering the limbic system—this area is where your emotions are felt. Your feelings move from there to the brain's frontal lobe, known as the rational brain, where we process and rationalize our emotions. Sleeping on a situation offers you plenty of time to provide a rational response without emotion, one you won't regret.
Why it's ideal to have a strategy to help regulate your emotions.
It's always beneficial to respond to a situation in a rational – sensible way; however, if you cannot sleep on it, the principle can still apply. When you feel you are about to have an emotional reaction you might regret, use a rational strategy. Try taking several deep breaths, calm yourself, communicate that you will get back to them, and then walk away from the email or the person.
Things quite possibly will change while you're waiting to respond, allowing you time to be rational and consider a different strategy to prevent an over-reaction driven by emotion, which diminishes the possibility of a negative outcome.
Once we understand our emotions, we become more at ease with them. This allows us to improve our self-awareness and overall emotional intelligence. If you're interested in learning more about your emotional intelligence, consider an EI assessment.
This article was originally published on June 2, 2018, and has been updated (March 2021).
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