Every day we are bombarded with stressful situations that tend to get the best of our emotions. The important thing to remember is that you cannot fully control your emotions but you can manage them by controlling your reactions.
The Pathway: Emotion vs Logic
Each experience we encounter, has a general pathway – experience -> emotion – > feeling -> thought -> action. Understanding this pathway is the key to thinking clear so that you can act calm.
An experience gets to your brain in the form of electrical signals (stimuli) that travel up the spinal cord and into your brain. Stimuli comes from your senses (sight, smell, touch, etc.) which you experience in the physical world. Once the spinal cord carries these signals to the brain, our limbic system (emotion center) analyzes that signal and determines the appropriate emotion. This is where our emotions come into play. Emotions like anger, happiness, and anxiety trigger your body and mind to react. So once our emotion center determines the correct emotion, it creates a feeling that surges through our mind and body.
When you experience an overpowering emotion, you need to realize what that emotion is affecting in your mind and body. For example, if you are about to present/perform in front of a larger than usual audience, you might get anxious. How does that anxiety feel? What does it do to your body, thought, speech? Finding the answers to these questions will help you determine the feeling for that emotion. Now we need to think about the feeling that this emotion created, which drives our actions. Unfortunately we can’t control the emotion but we can manage the feeling it creates by using logic and reason.
See here’s the thing, the brain uses logic and reason to react on that signal that was turned into an emotion then a feeling. Thanks to the Cerebrum, where logic and reason come into play. We are not here to define logic and reason, as each person has their own unique way of defining those terms, but instead how they can provide balance with your emotions. Think before you act, do not let your emotions determine your action – let your feelings, logic, and reason, determine your actions. This way you can think clear and act calm.