Decision-making seems like such a basic skill. However, we sometimes do not think things all the way through. The results can be catastrophic or at least cause a setback if we make decisions while we are emotional. Our brains actually function differently when it is overwhelmed with negative emotions such as fear, frustration, anger, anxiety, etc. At that time it does not operate at full capacity. So it is important not to make major decisions that can alter the course of our lives when we are experiencing those feelings.
But how do we avoid taking certain actions when we’re emotional? We know that is usually the time that we want to strike back, express ourselves, tell it like it is, or make some over-the-top outward display of action until others feel the intensity of what we are dealing with inside. Then, after we come back to our senses, it’s common to have some regrets about what we did or said while we were heated.
Try these steps to keep your balance while dealing with emotional situations, so that you can make important decisions with a clear head and decrease the number of apologies you have to dish out.
- Pause to Self-Check and Tune Into How You Are Feeling. As soon as you notice that your heart is beating faster, your frustration levels are going up, you’re becoming increasingly agitated and uncomfortable with the situation – start self-checking. Notice these things happening within your mind and body and decide to take healthy actions that take care of yourself.
- Use Deep Breathing to Draw Your Attention Back In. To slow yourself down, slow down your breathing. It’s likely that your mind was going a million miles a minute in its emotional state and taking long deep breaths puts you back in control while sending a message to your rapidly beating heart and overworking mind that it is time to start coming back to a calmer pace. It may take a moment or two but just keep breathing deeply imagining every breath brings your awareness back to what’s important – taking care of yourself.
- Encourage Yourself with Soothing Self-Talk. Start coaching yourself the way you would someone else that you care about. Let yourself know that everything is going to be okay and that this too shall pass. Be supportive of yourself in that moment and remember that at the end of the day what’s important is that you approve of yourself and behaviors. It is okay to disagree with others just like it is okay if they don’t agree with you. Let go of as much as you can and encourage yourself with positive inner dialogue.
- Refocus and Remember What You’re All About. Remind yourself of your goals. Do an inventory of whether the situation causing you stress is getting you closer to or further away from those goals. If you determine that it is a barrier to what you’re all about or what you’re trying to accomplish, be prepared to make sound decisions about overcoming or removing those stressors from your life.
- Take Time to Make the Decisions that are Right For You. If possible, allow yourself time to process your emotions and let things settle down a bit before you come to final conclusions about what you’ve experienced. Things look different after we’ve stepped away from it for a while and you may be in a better position to make decisions that are best for you from a clear head.
If we allow our emotions to rule our behaviors, we spend a lot of time cleaning up messes we wish we’d never made. Grounding yourself after an emotional run-in is important and can help you to make decisions that you can be confident in. Self-awareness is key, and a willingness to use techniques to regain your balance can help you improve your decision-making skills and ultimately improve the quality of your life.