Often times, we may make impulsive decisions. We feel good about the positive choices we make, while we may regret other responses when looking back on them later. Did you know that we all have built-in tools for identifying, understanding, and using our emotions to improve our lives? You can stop repeating negative patterns and start making healthy decisions. Here are some tips to guide you this year…
1. Understand what you are experiencing. A recent issue of Psychology Today defines emotions as a primal reaction within the body to information from the environment. Take for example fear reaction: the body’s physical response is a faster heart rate and hyper-awareness with the impulse towards fight, flight or freeze. All of this often happens before your mind has had time to catch up. Feelings on the other hand are a thoughtful expression based on our past experiences (memories), perspectives (beliefs), and interpretation of the current situation. Using the example above we can interrupt the situation of fear as “I am feeling scared right now.”
2. Reflect on your emotions, feelings, and thoughts to make decisions that match your long term goals. Your body is a good indicator that something is not quite right, so focus on your body first. Use your physical response to determine what emotions you are feeling. Pause, reflect on how you feel, and ask yourself, “Is this the best way to react to this situation?” This is important because initially your emotions and feelings tend to move you towards reactions that may not "fit” the situation. Learning to identify your “reality” gives you more information to determine if your response is rational and appropriate in intensity.
3. Check the facts. A helpful skill we teach at Mindsoother is called “check the facts.” Is the way you are feeling and thinking about a situation factual? Find the proof first. Do the facts warrant the intensity of the feeling response? “Checking the facts” can help you modify you response to a level that is appropriate for the situation. It will give you a better chance at making a healthy decision.
This year, consider making a resolution to making healthier decisions. By understanding your emotions and feelings, reflecting on how you feel, and checking the facts, you are more likely to avoid impulsive responses.