Controlling Difficult Emotions

Everyday we experience a range of emotions. Some emotions are easy to experience. Feeling satisfied, joyful, content and energized are emotions we could all use more of! Unfortunately, we don’t always get to choose the emotions we experience. Some emotions are more challenging. Feeling jealous, insecure, deprived, or fearful is much more difficult to manage.


How we control our emotions, mood, and affect is called ‘emotion regulation.’ This often happens unconsciously. Increasing our awareness of how we experience emotions and how we respond to emotions can lead to improved emotional health. 


Being able to regulate our emotions in the heat of the moment can seem impossible at times. Instead of acting out of a difficult emotion, be intentional and take a step back to choose how to respond. One strategy to gain more control over our emotions is the STOPP technique developed by Carol Vivyan:


  • S- Stop

  • T - Take a breath

  • O - Observe

  • P - Pull back - gain perspective

    • Take a bird's eye view of the situation

    • Determine if what is occurring is a fact or an opinion

    • How important will this be tomorrow? Next week? Next month?

  • P - Practice what works - proceed

    • What response would be the best response for me and those involved?

Will my response help the situation?