In this video I talk about the importance of emotional mastery. This is more about raising awareness than offering solutions. 

That doesn’t make it any less important. Often, understanding a problem is the first step to overcoming it. 

If you prefer to read, rather than to watch, you’ll find a transcription below. This is an automatically generated transcript so please excuse any errors.

Self Management and Handling Stress

Now we probably all overreact to some extent from time to time. And we try not to, of course, but perhaps it’s just part of being human. If it happens more than very occasionally, though, there is a good chance that it’s getting in the way.

Understanding Self Management

The reality is the only thing we can manage is ourselves. Sure, it would be good to manage the traffic or the weather. And wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could manage other people’s behavior? But you probably already know that is not realistic. Trying to control the uncontrollable is one of the biggest root causes of stress and anxiety.

Learning to manage yourself is one of the greatest skills you will ever learn in life and in business. It’s not important who said it; what is important is how true it is.

Observing Successful People

Think of somebody you know, either personally or from afar, who you consider successful in life but doesn’t seem to get stressed. Nothing seems to faze them. Yet, they’re not pushovers. They’re not weak; they’re just good at staying calm under pressure.

Now, think of somebody you know who’s the opposite. Someone who still gets things done but is constantly stressed or prone to emotional flare-ups. Given a choice, which kind of person would you like to be? The calm person or the one who constantly seems to be butting heads with life?

The Effects of Low-Level Stress

Low-level stress is bad for your health, period. Human beings are amazing and can cope with high levels of stress for short periods. It’s all part of our survival mechanism. But chronic stress is really bad for you. The British Heart Foundation stops short of saying that stress causes heart attacks. However, they do say it’s often a contributing factor. Chronic or constant stress makes people physically ill.

In a work situation, there is another downside. People don’t make good decisions when they’re stressed. If you run a business or work for a company, being in a constant stress state can be disastrous because you’ll make bad decisions all the time.

Impact on Relationships

Think about people you know who are constantly stressed. What’s it like to be around them? Is it pleasant, or is it hard work? Any kind of business relies on good relationships with colleagues and customers. So ask yourself the question: Who do I want to show up as? The person who is often stressed or the person who’s always calm under pressure.

Emotional Outbursts

Then there’s the person who’s prone to emotional outbursts. This cannot be good for their blood pressure. What is it like to be around somebody like that? You probably always tread on eggshells because you don’t know how they’re going to react to anything you say or do. For people like that, those around them won’t be performing at their best either. It doesn’t make for a creative or successful environment.

Understanding and Changing Reactions

For the purpose of this video, I want to focus on the second scenario: the person who has big reactions. People describe this as like having a red mist descending on them or a feeling welling up inside them. They then temporarily lose control and just react to things. This always reminds me of The Incredible Hulk. The Incredible Hulk is a great guy to have around, but as they say in the film, you would not like him when he’s angry.

So what can you do about this? Long term, it’s about learning about yourself. Why do you get so upset about things that don’t seem to bother other people? What is it about that particular thing that really grinds your gears? Very often, the real reason is buried quite a long way below the surface. But it’s always well worth going mining for these things. Learning about yourself, learning about your conscious and subconscious drivers, is always a good thing.

Learning New Behaviors

Long term, the solution is also about learning new behaviors. People who react in this way often don’t like it. They often don’t choose to be like that. They might feel embarrassed about it and sometimes even feel flawed in some way. But the good news is that’s not true. If you’ve learned one behavior, you can learn a different behavior instead. You can always learn to respond differently. What if you could choose your response under different conditions? How useful would that be?

There’s always going to be traffic jams, things breaking at inconvenient times, and people who lie to you. You can’t change any of those things. But you can change the way you respond to them. That’s the long-term approach, but what about the short term? This is a little different.

Managing Stress in the Short Term

This is about learning to take control of your stress levels. Most people prone to emotional outbursts have stress levels that are way too high.

The Bucket Analogy

Think of it like this: imagine a bucket with a hose pipe constantly dripping water in. Somebody cuts you off in traffic: drip. The supermarket queue is too long: drip. You’re running late for an important meeting: drip, drip. Your computer crashes 30 seconds before a video call: drip, drip. A colleague makes an error and tries to cover it up or blame you for it: drip, drip, drip. That’s called life. You can’t change these things. For most people, it’s not a problem because their bucket has a hole in the bottom, letting water leak out.

But what if your bucket doesn’t have a hole, or what if water is dripping in faster than it’s escaping? If water is dripping in faster than it’s escaping, there is a problem. At some point, it is going to overflow, and people explode when their emotional bucket is too full. Just one little thing on top causes it to overflow. You don’t notice it’s happening. One drip at a time fills the bucket until the last drop makes it overflow. This isn’t complicated. This is cause and effect. A full bucket plus one drop of water equals overflow. It happens every time. No exceptions.

I’m not giving you a solution here. I want to draw your attention to the problem. The chances are if you’ve got this far, what you need most is awareness. I can’t give you the solution anyway. How can I? I don’t even know you. It’d be arrogant of me to sit here and think I have the answer for you. No two people’s stress is the same. No two people’s stress solutions are the same either.

Finding Your Solution

All I or anybody else can do in a video like this is give you generalities you can find anywhere on the internet. This gives you short-term or temporary relief. If I were to give you a fix, the next time you get stressed, you’d have to come back to me to fix it again. All that does is build your reliance on me, which doesn’t solve anything.

The good news is now you’re more aware your bucket is pretty full. You can start to ask yourself intelligent questions, like: What do I already know how to do to reduce my stress levels? What are the things that cause me stress, and how can I deal with them differently? How can I start to notice things building up earlier so I can deal with them more effectively?

I’m sure you can come up with many other good questions. If you’re struggling to find these for yourself, find a good stress coach. While you’re stressed, you’re not effective in your business or work life.

If you do explode sometimes, remember you are not a bad person. You are not flawed or broken. Your bucket is too full, and it’s time to let some of that water out.

Get Help with Stress Management

If you’d like to find out how full your bucket is right now, give me a call or send me an email. Let’s get together for 10 minutes. I’ll help you measure your current stress levels and understand what level you should aim for. The more aware you are of the problem, the easier it will be to find the solution.