Have you ever been so embarrassed by your own inappropriate actions or words that you wanted to crawl in a hole and hide? Have you ever been forced to change or adapt, didn’t want to, felt totally frustrated by it, and seriously considered quitting? Have you ever been so angry at another person that you wanted to strangle them? Stressful circumstances can jolt your emotional stability---if you allow them to. Embarrassment, frustration and anger are nasty emotions everyone has experienced. The crucial point is how you handle those negative emotions. Some people can keep their cool and execute their next words, actions and behaviors successfully. Others don’t have the same success.

Let’s face it, we live in a crazy world of emotional ineptitude. People are blowing up, losing control, hurting others, acting out road rage, even taking guns to work! Safety and security are big issues. What does it take? Video surveillance? More security guards? Cell phones with 911 on speed dial? Most importantly, to create a safe environment, we need emotionally stable PEOPLE. The poet Kipling said it best “IF you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you...” This is the first tenet of emotional fitness…keep your cool. And keeping your cool means being able to self-govern your emotional state, remain calm amidst pressure, and act with integrity. That’s risky business!

Don’t gamble on your emotional state. It depends on taking the right risks in response to the daily challenges presented to you. Purposeful Risk Taking means that you understand your investment in a safe environment, you seek the potential benefits, and you are willing to stretch yourself to meet the challenge of emotional fitness. Here’s the ammunition you need to keep your integrity intact and keep your cool:

1. Breathe.

Breathe deeply—belly breathing, yoga breathing—whatever you want to call it—just breathe slowly and deeply. Slowly fill up your belly with air, expand your lower lungs with air first, then your upper lungs, finally think about getting air up into your brain. Exhale slowly, repeating to yourself: “Relax, relax, relax.” A good, deep breath will take about 15-20 seconds. Practice it. Do it right now so you understand what it feels like. This is a simple but powerful tool for two reasons. First, it gives a pop of circulation to every cell in your body and brings in pure, clean, healing oxygen. It sends oxygen to your brain which, at 2% of the body’s weight, requires 25% of the body’s oxygen. An influx of oxygen opens your brain for thinking. And second, when you say that important word “relax,” you give your body permission to release the physical symptoms of stress. Deep breathing is like pressing the reset button. It helps you become centered and calm.

2. Don’t blow, re-direct the flow.

A negative feeling shouldn’t cause you to blow up, push your buttons and cause inappropriate behavior. Nor should it cause you to store stress inside and cause stress-related diseases. Put negative emotion in motion and release it. Let it go. Easier said than done, the trick is to respond quickly by redirecting the flow of positive feelings back into your system. You need a trigger, a slice of happy memory, a sure-fire way to infuse good feelings.

My trigger is a delightful recollection of a precious moment with my granddaughter Madalyn. Her mother Susan (my daughter-in-law), Madalyn (2 ½ years old at the time), and I went to visit a friend. When we arrived, the friend had just made cookies. Turning to Maddie with a plate of cookies, she asked, “Madalyn, would you like to have a cookie?” Of course, little Madalyn nodded her head and responded quickly, “Yes!” Then the friend proposed, “Well Madalyn, what’s the magic word?” Maddie’s face lit up. She lifted her arms and exclaimed: “Ta-Da!” Her response was so unexpected and charming. It brought immediate laughter. We were expecting her to think of manners and say “please and thank you,” but her thoughts were propelled by the word magic! That moment in time serves me well as my special trigger. I know it brings a powerful surge of happiness. I use it any time a negative feeling has upset my state of being. My trigger helps me move out the bad feeling by the quick replacement of positive emotion.

You have a lifetime of wonderful memories (birth of a child, first kiss, best vacation, physical adventure). Think about your moments of love, gratitude, delight, appreciation, adventure, or pure joy. Find your own trigger to jump-start a positive state change. Decide on one powerful memory right now. Have it ready to use when you need to redirect the flow.

3. Take control.

Once you are centered and in a positive state, you can access your problem-solving ability, interpersonal skills, and proficiency in communication. From past experience, you know those talents go AWOL when you’re in a negative state. Bad feelings seem to shut down your abilities. When you take a couple of focused minutes to breathe deeply and use your trigger to redirect yourself into a positive state, you can then access your skills, take control and do the right thing. From a centered and positive state, you are in a better position to determine what you can do to change the situation, improve the situation, or remove yourself from it.

The next time you are faced with a stressful challenge that makes your head spin or your blood boil, don’t lose your cool and do something you might regret later. Take the RISK to try these strategies: breathe, use your re-direct trigger, and take control. The ability to defuse negative feelings when they happen and keep your cool is a valuable asset.

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Newton is the Risk Enhancer. She pushes people to get in the full swing of risk taking for performance improvement. This article was adapted from her book: Living in Full Swing.
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To contact Cathy visit: www.CathyNewton.com)