Managing Emotions

A man evaluating his emotionsAfter studying in Waterloo for four months, I didn’t have too many emotional experiences. However, at home, there is plenty. It’s much more hectic at home because everyone is busy and things are all over the place. Everyone has got unhealthy levels of stress. Seriously, Waterloo is much more calm and peaceful other than the occasional goose confrontation.

Emotions are useful because it makes us do things that protect ourselves or close others. Sometimes these actions can be irrational, so emotions can go overboard quite easily. The key is to understand our emotions and to use them to our advantage. Many of our decisions are based on how we feel about it. Believe it or not, emotions have a huge influence in decision making for most people including myself.

In decision making, emotion acts as extra weighting toward certain options. Look at the following example, with ‘x’ as emotion:

The intensity of the emotion is variable. Emotion tied to one reason that supports a ‘Yes’ decision:
Yes = x(Reason 1) + (Reason 2) + (Reason 3)
No = (Reason 1) + (Reason 2) + (Reason 3)

In our decisions, if we know the intensity of ‘x’ and its location, we can consciously minimize its affect on our decision-making process. Some decisions are made better without certain emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy, anxiety, and even courage in some cases. If it’s anger, the best way to minimize it is to take some time to calm down.

Moreover, if it’s a decision that will directly or indirectly affect another person, it’s best to empathize. Understand how it would affect the other person and how it would make them feel. This is very important because your decision reflects your character.

Here are some important questions to ask:

  • Why am I making this decision? Who does it benefit?
  • How do/would I feel about this decision?
  • How do/would other people feel about this decision?
  • Am I being too irrational? Do I need to calm down?
  • If I make this decision, would I be comfortable telling everyone about it?

From an evolutionary perspective, we have emotions because it has to be useful in some ways. Emotions make us do things that we wouldn’t normally do. In a way, it makes us human. For example, it could influence us to splurge on new products, treat our partners better, or harms others. As we can see, emotions can be both beneficial and harmful. We should get in touch with our feelings, understand them, and manage them when necessary.

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