How to Be More in Control of Your Emotions: Therapy Skills to Help

You can learn how to be more in control of your emotions by practicing therapy skills. In this article, you will learn one of the…


You can learn how to be more in control of your emotions by practicing therapy skills.

In this article, you will learn one of the best coping skills to stay in control of your emotions.

How to Be More in Control of Your Emotions with Emotional Regulation Skills

Emotional regulation are those skills that keep your emotions feeling balanced. Rather than feeling controlled by your emotions which may feel all over the place, these skills keep you feeling centered.

When you practice these skills, you can feel intense emotions without feeling lost in them or out of control. Rather you can choose how you want to act and respond rather than feeling swept away by your emotions.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Emotional Regulation

Learning skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is invaluable when you want to be more in control of your emotions. This therapy model consists of a wide range of skills to help you feeling balanced, centered, and grounded. In DBT, feeling centered even in the face of intense emotions is called “Wise Mind.”

how to be more in control of your emotions

This skill of living in Wise Mind teaches that no matter what you feel or face you can stay in control of your emotions. You can respond effectively to emotions and problems rather than just being reactive.

Stay in Control of Your Emotions with Ride the Wave

An incredibly important emotional regulation skill from DBT is called “Ride the Wave.”

This is a mindfulness based skill that honors the reality that emotions are a natural part of life. There are no bad emotions. Rather all emotions are simply information. If you feel angry, for instance, someone has violated a boundary or value of yours.

Related: What are Healthy Relationship Boundaries: A Therapist Explains

Therefore, to stay in control of your emotions, it’s necessary to accept that you will feel intense emotions. This is a part of being human!

From: You Can Heal Your Life

How to Use Ride the Wave to Stay Emotionally in Control

There are 4 steps to using the Ride the Wave skill to feel like you are able to stay in control of your emotions.

The #1 Step of Ride the Wave: Let Yourself Feel

Have you ever noticed how sometimes you judge your emotions? Are there certain emotions you don’t like to feel?

Related: 4 Practical Tips to Learn How to Be Nice to Yourself

These emotions you judge may be anger, insecurity, or sadness to name a few. But then, when you judge them, don’t you tend to feel even worse?

Now you feel the original emotions i.e., insecurity and the self-judgment/shame of feeling this emotion. Of course, this can make you feel more “out of control” in the face of your emotions. It becomes a vicious cycle!

Honoring Your Emotions

Therefore, the first step of Ride the Wave is to simply be aware of your emotion. This is the balanced place of feeling in control. You are not suppressing your emotion with denial or distraction. Also, you are not intensifying your emotion i.e., letting yourself obsess or listening to music that makes you feel worse.

You simply honor that you have this emotion i.e., “I’m angry,” or “I notice I’m feeling insecure.” The first step really is that simple in theory. Of course, in practice it can be super challenging to honor our emotions but it’s necessary to feel more in control of them.

how to be more in control of your emotions

The #2 Step of Ride the Wave: Be Aware of How You Literally Feel

The next step to feeling more in control of your emotions is to become mindful of how they literally feel.

Instead of reacting to your emotion negatively, take a moment to just be present with your body. If you’re angry, for example, notice where you feel these sensations. Perhaps your jaw has tightened or you feel hot. Just notice this. This helps you slow down when you feel intense emotions rather than being reactive and out of control.

From: The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

The #3 Step to Ride the Wave: Remember It’s a Feeling Not Your Identity

There are no bad emotions. And by extension, you’re never a “bad” person regardless of how you feel.

You are not defined by any emotion you may feel. Feeling any feeling just means you are human. The next step to Ride the Wave is to not wear this emotion like an identity. Instead of thinking “I’m an insecure (or angry, or depressed, etc.) person,” you shift to thinking, “I feel insecure (or angry, or sad, etc.).”

Related: Self Worth Journal – Free Daily Journaling Worksheet

A key step to feeling more in control of your emotions is to accept that you will have intense feelings and these are not a reflection of your worth.

The #4 Step to Ride the Wave: Let Go of Judging Your Emotion

The final step to feeling less out of control with your emotions is to accept it fully. Allow yourself to fully feel it. Accept that this emotion (and all others) are a part of being alive.

There is nothing wrong with your emotions. They always just give you information. It’s what you do with your emotions that can be helpful or unhelpful.

Related: DBT Skills for Distress Tolerance that Seriously Make Life Better

To stay in control, it’s important to not react just because you have an intense emotion. Sit with it. Radically accept this emotion. It’s ok to feel this way. You’re not bad or wrong. Give yourself time and space to allow the emotion to pass like a wave in the ocean.

When you give yourself this time to just be you will never again do something with your emotions that you later regret.

Feeling Emotionally Balanced and In Control

Whenever you choose to use the Ride the Wave skill, you are working on regulating your emotions. In other words, you are choosing to actively stay emotionally balanced no matter what is going on in your life.

While it may feel like the last thing you want to do when you feel an intense emotion just allowing it to be and accepting it truly is life changing. You never need to do something you regret with your emotions or feel out of control ever again with this skill.

Take your time and be patient with yourself while you learn to Ride the Wave. Please know that what counts is every single time you choose to Ride the Wave rather than getting out of control. You are building a muscle to stay emotionally in control!

From: The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer

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About The Author

Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist and author with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to find their voice, deepen their ability to self-love, and improve their relationships.

Her newest book, Setting Boundaries: 100 Ways to Protect Yourself, Strengthen Your Relationships and Build the Life You Want…Starting Now! (Therapy Within Reach), gives you the tools necessary to identify, set, and stay firm with your boundaries.

Her other books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many overcome people pleasing, self-neglect, and resentment to have a healthier relationship with themselves and others.

If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to or DM her on Instagram. We will always keep your name and other identifying information confidential.

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