When I worked as a social worker, helping both adolescents and adults learn communication and stress management skills, I found that a lot of the people I worked with found it difficult to control their emotions in stressful situations. Unfortunately, relationships are sometimes stressful. You can’t always control the circumstances in which you find yourself. You can’t control what other people, including your boyfriend, choose to do. You can’t always control how you feel about things. You can, however, control how you behave, what you do and say, with your boyfriend, even when you feel very emotional. Managing your emotions helps you avoid extreme ups and downs and it also allows you to avoid doing or saying things you might later regret.
Take a Deep Breath
It sounds simple but it really does help. HelpGuide.org, a non-profit resource providing information on health-related topics to the public, recommends taking a deep breath, stretching, taking a brisk walk around the block or counting to 10 to help relieve tension and give yourself a moment to clear your head before responding in emotional situations.
Put Words to the Feelings
Simply putting words to your emotions can make them seem easier to control. Use feeling words. “My boyfriend doesn’t care about me” is not a feeling, it’s a thought. Feelings you might have along with that thought include hurt, sadness and betrayal. Use your words to express your emotions to your boyfriend. Instead of expressing hurt by walking out and slamming the door, say, “I feel really hurt right now.” That lets your boyfriend know how you feel and he’s less likely to feel he has to defend himself or argue that he really does care about you.
Anger sometimes seems like one of the most difficult emotions to control. An article on the Helpguide.org website entitled “Anger Management” points out that anger often covers up other emotions like hurt and fear. Ask yourself what you’re really feeling and deal with the underlying emotions to make managing your anger easier. Focus on communicating with your boyfriend in a calm and respectful manner even if you feel angry.
Take a Time out if You Need to
It can be hard to control your emotions or to express them in a constructive way when you’re really angry or upset. Take a time out if you need some time to calm down. Tell your boyfriend if you need a time out, though, and let him know you’ll discuss things with him later, once you’ve calmed down. Don’t just walk away or refuse to pick up the phone.
See a Counselor if You Need Help Managing Your Emotions
If you’re concerned about the difficulty you have controlling your emotions, if you often do or say things that scare you or that you later regret, or if your emotional outbursts are negatively affecting your relationships with others, consider seeing a professional counselor. A good counselor can help you figure out why you get so emotional and teach you ways to manage your emotions. If you and your boyfriend have trouble communicating when you’re emotional, attending counseling together can help you learn more effective communication skills.
HelpGuide.org. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/effective_communication_skills.htm. Effective Communication.
Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/assertive/SR00042. Being Assertive: Reduce Stress, Communicate Better.
HelpGuide.org. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anger_management_control_tips_techniques.htm. Anger Management.