One of the most important competencies to improve your emotional intelligence is to learn to recognize the signs that you’re about to enter the zone of emotional flooding: the point at which you move from being in control of yourself to going out of emotional control. It is crucial to recognize that microsecond when your cognitive brain goes from functioning well, to a point where you flip and your reptile brain takes over. The reptile brain is far more primitive and ancient and really only knows how to attack or defend.
It is crucial for healthy functioning to learn to read and recognize the signs that you are crossing that emotional chasm and you are about to experience emotional flooding. If you don’t catch yourself, you are much more likely to do or say something you will regret later.
Here’s what you can do to better manage that emotional flooding:
When you see those signs coming on, take a break from whatever situation you are in. Learn to take some deep breaths and to recalibrate. Learn to recognize that whatever you are getting so worked up about probably does not matter. It’s small stuff. Most all stuff is small stuff. Learn to let it go.
Try Something different. For example, learn the words from the song “Let It Go” from the musical Frozen and sing it, real loud. Singing is good for you. So is deep breathing. So is holding onto your exhale for a long time.
Swearing can work too, as long as it’s out of earshot of everyone else. So is working on keeping perspective and balance in your life. Maybe you’re hungry or thirsty. Probably you don’t need a drink or a toke. Probably you know how to calm yourself down because you’ve done it many times before. Do it now. Call on your very best self to come to your rescue.
Before you return to the stressful situation, be sure you have emotional flooding under control. If you start to feel it coming back, take another break, maybe even a longer break.
If you can avoid moving from the cognitive state to the lizard state, you can make life much happier for yourself and for those around you. Try smiling, try working out, try to remember what has worked for you in the past to get calm and stay cool under fire.
The world we’re living in is currently driving us all a little bit crazy. Emotional flooding is much more prevalent. The waters of distress, of anxiety, and depression are constantly overflowing. We can’t do much to lower the waters. However, we can learn to move away from the river’s bed. As Lennon and McCartney say: take a sad song and make it better.
Now, there. Don’t you feel better already?