Are your emotions controlling you?
Your emotions may be controlling your behaviors under the surface, without you even realizing it!
If you’re struggling with feeling like your emotions might be controlling your actions, moods, relationships and work, then keep on reading.
Emotions are an inherent part of being human. Yet, it’s so common that people don’t have the skills to properly manage and cope with difficult emotions. And I can say this speaking from personal experience, because this used to be me, and this is a lot of the clients that come to see me.
The unfortunate reality is that most people haven’t been properly educated about how to cope with difficult emotions and what their emotions actually mean. This is something that I see every day in my therapy and coaching clients. The reality is that your behaviors can often be clues to your emotional turmoil under the surface. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. So let’s get into eight signs that your emotions may actually be controlling you.
1. You always need to be busy
Sign number one that your emotions might be controlling you is that you always need to be busy. When you’re always busy, you’re literally avoiding looking at your thoughts and looking at your emotions. And you’re doing things that are going to distract you from that.
It can be difficult to look at and acknowledge the emotions that you’re experiencing under the surface. Filling your time with work, social engagements, and other responsibilities can be a distraction from your emotional discomfort.
2. You judge yourself for feeling difficult emotions
Sign number two is that you judge yourself for feeling difficult emotions. This ultimately keeps you stuck in them longer. When you judge yourself for experiencing emotions like anxiety, sadness, anger, or irritability, then you’re probably not acknowledging those emotions, and you’re probably pushing them away and brushing them under the rug.
The reality is that you can’t just ignore your emotions and expect them to go away. You have to acknowledge them, and you have to experience them in order for you to move through them and move past them.
Judging yourself creates more suffering and difficult emotions on top of the difficulty you’re already experiencing!
3. You procrastinate often
Sign number three that your emotions may be controlling you is that you procrastinate often. And this can also include having difficulty with motivation, focus, and getting easily distracted. A big part of procrastination is difficulty with emotion regulation.
Procrastination is seeking out what’s desirable in the moment. You’re seeking out that short term gratification of checking social media or watching a TV show in place of a long-term goal or something you don’t want to do.
Maybe you’re avoiding writing a paper, a blog post, doing your bookkeeping, or something that’s really not desirable. What you’re avoiding may be helping you work towards a long term goal or is just something that is important to get done but that you don’t really want to do.
When you procrastinate, you’re avoiding the uncomfortable emotions that are going to come up when you’re doing something that you don’t like, in favor of the pleasant emotions that you’re going to experience when you do something that you do like more.
Procrastination can often be a sign that your emotions are controlling you. You’re doing what you feel like doing in the moment rather than acknowledging your emotions and practicing discipline.
4. You have difficulty being alone
Sign number four that you might be avoiding your emotions is that you have difficulty being alone. Maybe you surround yourself with others, spend time often with others, or interact often with others.
This behavior can go hand in hand with always needing to be busy. It can be difficult being alone because you’re faced with your difficult emotions or thoughts. If you find yourself constantly seeking out the company of others that might be a sign that you’re avoiding difficult emotions.
5. You avoid conflict
Sign number five that you are allowing your emotions to control you is that you avoid conflict. Ultimately, conflict is uncomfortable in and of itself, because you’re having an argument or a conflict with another person. But conflict also brings up difficult emotions within yourself.
Conflict can bring up emotions of guilt, anger, irritability, frustration, anxiety, or fear. Maybe you fear disappointing others or risking the relationship or any other emotions that might come up as a result. If you find yourself avoiding conflict, part of the reason may be because you’re avoiding the difficult emotions that come up as a result. And this can be a sign that your emotions are controlling you.
6. You Crave Pleasurable Distractions
Sign number six that your emotions are controlling you is that you crave pleasurable distractions such as drinking alcohol, checking your phone, watching TV, or eating. If you often find yourself in moments where you’re craving a drink, or you’re craving that dopamine rush that comes from checking your phone or watching a TV show, or having a snack, then you might be experiencing difficult emotions under the surface.
You may be craving that pleasurable experience in order to distract yourself from uncomfortable emotions. This is common because humans want to avoid pain and seek out pleasure. When you’re experiencing difficult emotions under the surface, you’re going to experience that desire to go towards pleasurable experiences. But in the process, you may be ignoring those difficult emotions, which then in turn, are going to be controlling your behavior and the choices that you’re making.
7. You’re often irritable and easily triggered
Sign number seven that you’re allowing your emotions to control you is that you’re often irritable and easily triggered into impulsive reactions.
When you’re already experiencing difficult emotions, then you tend to be more easily irritable and easily triggered. As a result, you may be more impulsive. That’s because your emotions are building up under the surface because you’re not acknowledging them.
Let’s say you’ve been having a really stressful week, your boss has been putting a lot of pressure on you. Or maybe you’ve had deadlines that you’ve been working towards, and you’ve been really stressed. Or maybe your clients have been requiring a lot of extra time or work this week. And then you come home and your significant other says, “how come you didn’t wash the dishes?”
Then you just get triggered and you start getting really irritable and you start yelling at them. And it may seem like it’s really excessive in response to the trigger. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, because you’ve been experiencing stress and emotional build up throughout the week or throughout the day. And then this is just the one thing that puts you over the edge.
8. You constantly overthink things
Sign number eight that your emotions control you is that you constantly overthink things. Your emotions influence the way that you think about things. If you find yourself constantly overthinking things and feeling stressed or anxious about them, this may be a sign that there are emotions under the surface of anxiety, stress, fear, or nervousness.
If you’re not acknowledging those emotions and identifying what’s under the surface of this overthinking, then your emotions are going to continue controlling you and you will continue into that cycle of overthinking.
Ask yourself, what am I afraid of? or what am I feeling right now that’s making me feel like I need to overthink things?
Your Emotions Don’t have to control you
I hope that these signs were helpful for you. And maybe you could resonate with one or more of them. Your action tip is to take the first step, and start labeling your emotions throughout the day.
Studies find that, “when you put feelings into words, you’re activating this prefrontal region and seeing a reduced response in the amygdala. In the same way you hit the brake when you’re driving when you see a yellow light, when you put feelings into words, you seem to be hitting the brakes on your emotional responses. And as a result, an individual may feel less angry or less sad.”
The amygdala is the portion in the brain that is responsible for your emotional reactions, and the prefrontal region of your brain is responsible for complex thinking and decision-making. So just labeling your emotions and putting them into words can help you feel less angry, less sad, and help you heal better.
Try labeling your emotions once daily and see if you notice a difference!
Let me know in the comments below if you can resonate with any of the 8 signs I mentioned!