Manage Your Emotions

Read time —
4 Minutes
Last updated
March 27, 2024
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92% of university students worry about mistakes when making big decisions.

This worry extends beyond students to us all.

The mistakes we worry about are the ones where we decide too quickly or are hasty or impulsive. These decisions are often driven by emotion over logic. This becomes all the more challenging when you appreciate most of our hard and complicated decisions come complicit emotions.

The feedback loop it creates isn’t pleasant.

We often think we don’t have the time or energy to invest in the decision-making process. We may be hesitant to take on the emotional discomfort, such as anxiety and frustration, that comes with making big decisions. Our lizard brain may tell us it’s easier to let our emotions guide us, but that can lead to rash and potentially bad decisions. Before you know it, you’re worst fears materialise.

The negative effect it leaves on future decisions is frightening.

You can never leave emotion out of a decision—nor should you. What I’ve learnt is that you can use emotion to make better decisions.

Here’s how:

  1. Identify the decision you need to make.
  2. Identify how you feel about the decision you have to make.
  3. Visualize your success and how it feels.
  4. Apply the emotional bookends.

Step 1: What decision are you about to make?

Clarify the choice you face—smaller decisions gather to confuse and hide the real decision we need to make.

Step 2: How do you feel about the decision?

Think about how you feel as you think about making a big choice. What is the strongest emotion you are feeling?

Naming our feelings can help create a little space between our emotions and our actions.

Step 3: Picture yourself being successful and how it feels.

Thinking about a successful decision creates a future we can visualise. Along with it comes realisations not previously seen.

Step 4: Apply the takeaways from the first three steps.

Look at your decision and the feelings connected to it. Ask yourself: Is this the right decision?

This leads us to my point about decision growth. I argue strongly we should decide slowly before acting quickly. Here, I’ve given you a 4-step process that compliments that lack of haste we fall fowl of.

So, slow down.

Take a breath and apply this exercise of emotional bookending. Naming and tolerating your emotions is far better than ignoring them or worse—running from them. It is an approach which gets you to the real decision and allows you to move forward with clarity.

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