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How can I learn to control my emotions when I don't even know what they are?

257 Answers
Last Updated: 08/16/2021 at 2:05am
★ This question about Managing Emotions was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Alex DS Ellis, MA, LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

Feeling depressed or anxious can be so overwhelming. I want to help you feel better and be able to enjoy life. You are not alone and you deserve emotional support.

Top Rated Answers
September 29th, 2014 8:28am
Learning to identify our emotions can sometimes picturing what the emotion looks like if someone else was experiencing it. What emotion were they feeling when they described how you are feeling now? Sometimes emotions are all mixed up, and it can be helpful to stop and sort out which emotion we are feeling. There are emotion charts online that can help to give pictures to relate to emotions. A good counselor can help you to identify emotions and work with you in recognizing them in yourself, and then help you identify how to control them. Most of us know when we feel good - it's the bad feelings we want to control. Sometimes identifying emotions means paying attention to the physical symptoms of what we are experiencing. Such as tense muscles, a frown or tight jaws, clenched hands, etc., can be related many times to anger. Feeling anxious or fidgety, worried, feeling sweaty or feeling your heart racing may be related to anxiety. If we can paint the picture, then we can try to figure it out. Then we can read, talk and research options on how to manage them.
November 10th, 2014 2:41pm
When ever my father starts to show his narcissistic colors, I go into what i call "robot mode." Basically, i take a few deep breaths and tell myself "what your feeling right now is fake and you are being manipulated to feel this" because N's manipulate people around them to make themselves feel better.
November 4th, 2014 6:49pm
It sucks to feel lost, and yes sometimes we have no idea what exactly what we're feeling, but tracking your thoughts would help. Thought are what trigger emotions. Being able to track your thoughts could be hard, but it would really help in controlling how you feel and think.
September 14th, 2014 5:45am
Just stay calm, try finding out what makes you have them feelings and distinguish them from other feelings. Talk to your friends and loved ones about it, you'll be surprised they may know how to help
July 15th, 2015 7:09pm
Managing emotions when we're not quite aware how we're feeling is super tough! A good way I find to help me manage emotions when I'm not sure is to vent down what's on my mind, good or bad in a diary read over it and pick out what emotion stands out, this however is not the only method and it may or may not work for you.
October 29th, 2014 6:57pm
Think about what your situation is, can you establish some feelings? (separate the ones you can identify from the others) If you can, try harder and harder. Think of what you want to be stable for. Is there a family member? A boyfriend/girlfriend? A best friend? A pet? Think of them, you don't want to be very unstable for them. They care about you just as much as you care about them. They love you, the relationship will get confusing with you being unstable for them. They are your rock, they expect the same from you.
April 1st, 2015 2:25pm
Take a nap. That's the simpliest way to get that annoyance out of your mind. When you wake up, just remember that all's gone and spring is coming, that's all.
September 12th, 2014 9:46pm
You can learn to control your emotions even when you don't know what they are by writing down everything you feel in a daily journal! :)
September 13th, 2014 7:54pm
Begin by writing down your thoughts, it's a great way to release some built up emotions and help you to figure out what they are.
October 14th, 2014 2:32pm
It depends on the person! My favorite way was is to stop and examine my emotions, making sure their in check!
October 29th, 2014 11:59am
This works for me but it might not work for you. Try to focus on what you do want to feel and think of things that make you feel that way.
October 29th, 2014 2:23pm
Being Optimist n letting positive energy in. Knowing what emotion your going through is important. Giving a term to your emotions helps you to deal with it better.
November 5th, 2014 8:26pm
Take some time to think about how you feel. Maybe you just see red and feel MAD. Most emotions are a combination of other emotions. Anger is frustration + loss of control, for example.
March 25th, 2015 4:14pm
Something that might help you is a little mindfulness. Every time you feel something, this happens because of thoughts that you have (even if sometimes you are not aware of them). Although your instinct might be to run away from how you feel, if you stay in the moment, and try to analize those thoughts, and how they lead to emotions, you might understand your feelings better.
July 18th, 2015 10:48am
Take time to know yourself, Learn to observe our own attitude and emotional ups and downs. this can help to control our emotion, knowing when we are actually being emotional on certain things and asking ourselves why.
September 14th, 2014 10:51pm
First of all, I would recommend looking at a feelings chart. Here's a good example of one: and here's another one: Look through them and see if you connect with one or more of those words. Once you have pinpointed what it is your are most likely feeling, try to see if you can figure out why you might feeling that way. Feelings and emotions are simply messages, inside of us, telling us constantly about what it is we need. Are all your needs being met? If not, is that why you may be feeling that way? If it's a positive emotion, are you allowing yourself to enjoy it and, if it's a negative emotion, what do you think your feelings are trying to let you know? Listen to yourself. Once you figure out what your feeling means to you, the chances of then stopping to chose what you wish to do about them become better. Ask yourself "What can I do to deal with this emotion constructively or in a way that serves me?" "What do I need, in order to feel better?" Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us or maybe even just dare to say something out loud so we can validate our self. Some of us find really creative, cathartic ways to do that, such as through expressive arts, like painting, writing, singing or dancing. If that's not your cup of tea, then why not talk to someone you know will not judge you and offer an attentive ear? Maybe you just need support from people who understand, like in a group that caters to your particular experience. Sometimes we don't need to DO anything! Sometimes, just accepting our feelings and letting ourselves know that it is perfectly ok to feel the emotions we are feeling can make a huge internal shift for us! Whatever the best answer is for you, you will find yourself feeling relief and acceptance, afterwards. Follow your intuition. Identify and seek to understand where the emotion is coming from. Know you have the power to make a choice about how to manage any feeling in your life and that they can be great friends to you, your feelings, not something to re-actively fear or reject. Hope this helps. Have a wonderful day! ;)!
November 3rd, 2014 10:17pm
Look deep inside yourself and realize that this is a normal part of life we are all meant to endure at some point. You can find inner strength only within yourself, so put trust into that. You're very much capable!
November 19th, 2014 5:25am
Often times, it's very difficult for us to recognize exactly what our emotions are. One thing to remember is that there are many coping skills with one can use that are fairly generalized. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and correction of maladaptive thinking can all help you feel happier and healthier, even if you don't fully recognize the reasons behind your feelings, or what your feelings are. Conversation about what you're feeling, whether with a Listener on 7cups or with a close friend, can also help you sort out your feelings, and come to more solid conclusions.
July 26th, 2015 2:16pm
You have to identify them and understand to some extent your emotions before you can begin to try and control them.
June 19th, 2015 10:08am
This is a great question! Many people struggle with figuring out what they are really feeling, and then it results in such a behaviour that really perplexes you as to why you did such a thing.. only to later find out that you were really irritated in the first place but didn't realize it! Yes.. this happens often, but the great news is that you can learn more about yourself in order to be able to read yourself better when in the situation. A great exercise is to take short breaks during the day, and check in with yourself. 'How am I feeling now?' 'What do I need right now?' It is okay to feel 'numb' and lacking 'emotions'... simply notice that you are lacking feelings and notice how that feels... a bit paradoxical I know, but the idea is to be observant of yourself. The more you know about yourself, the better equipped you are. Talking to someone here or to a therapist, or writing in your diary / journal / blog. Anything really which gives you freedom of expression.. maybe even singing or dancing. The most important thing is not to judge yourself for whatever might come up though, instead be curious as to what brought this on. Be kind to yourself.. sometimes the 'Shoulds' that society teaches us how we should act and behave and feel in a certain situations block us from really getting in touch with ourselves, and honouring ourselves. Having clashing beliefs about ourselves, for example: Strong people do not cry, and I am a strong person so I should be able to handle this. - automatically makes us suppress and get in touch with what we are actually feeling.. probably resulting in lashing out onto something else even when we do not intend to. Nevertheless this behaviour once served you, and it's okay to honour it for what it does. In certain situations such as when in bereavement, certain situations cause you to having to suppress your emotions in order to get you through the first couple of days, in order to be functional during the funeral or wake... So be kind to yourself when you notice your behaviours, it is okay. The ''problem'' simply arise when the once functional mechanism becomes dysfunctional and that is where it invites you to get in touch with yourself, learning new ways how you can change or modify your behaviour if you so choose or want to. :)
June 20th, 2015 9:46am
One cannot know they have emotions unless he can identify them. Neglect them. Use your brain. You choose what you feel.
June 25th, 2015 4:08am
Maybe speaking to a professional will help you be able to understand you emotions more. Usually when we are confused about our emotions there are really underlying reasons for these emotions. A counsellor is a great resource to bounce ideas and concerns off of.
July 3rd, 2015 1:09am
I think sometimes you can find a pattern for your emotions by paying closer attention to how certain things make you feel. From there, you can try to figure out what's the best way for you to handle your emotions.
July 5th, 2015 8:20pm
Emotions are a tricky thing to handle, and learning to discover exactly what you're feeling takes practice and time. It can be discouraging at times, but don't worry, we all struggle with this. I want you to picture a maze. The kind with the tall bushes at a castle, that take hours to get out of. Now plant a person right in the middle. The maze is their emotions. Now imagine yourself in a plane above the maze. You can see down and know the way out, but the person in the middle doesn't see it. You have to be the person in the plane for yourself. You have to imagine yourself looking in on the situation to analyze how you're feeling. Let's say you are crying, but you don't know whether it's sadness, stress, anger, etc. Be the person in the plane, sort of like a detective. Think, what has happened in the last hour/day/week/month/year that could make me cry? Narrow it down to the most recent events or persistent ones. Now you can sort of gauge where the feelings are coming from, right? Now your job as the person in the plane is to guide the confused person in the maze. You can see the way out, so help them! Now here's the mind blowing part. You're actually both those people- the one in the maze AND the plan. When you put your head and heart together, you can do incredible things including finding how you feel and learning to deal with those emotions.
July 31st, 2015 7:38pm
The first step is getting to know yourself, sit in a quiet place and just try to think who you are, look at the picture of your life, your aims your goals and you'll see emotions attaching themselves to each and every memory, this is the best way :)
August 1st, 2015 9:56pm
I typically start with trying to name my emotions, and dig deeper each time. I'll ask myself a few questions in attempt to name emotions. I'll do this in my journal or on my phone. How long have I been feeling this way? How intense is this feeling? What happened? Where did that come from? Have I felt this way before? What happened last time? Can I explain what is happening to a 5 year old? Who can I talk to? Emotional control for me is more about thought mindfulness and pairing that with an emotion and an action/reaction. Most emotional control for me is proactive - but everyone is different and each situation can be different as far as emotional responses are concerned.
December 23rd, 2015 8:38pm
You could have counselling or therapy to help you explore your emotions tgen once you understand your emotions you can learn coping stradgies to control them.
December 24th, 2015 12:36pm
You star by observing your thoughts, your emotions are not something that is formed in a vacuum. What are you thinking about? is the past? is the future?. The most effective tool I found was a book called: the power of now by Eckart Toole
December 25th, 2015 4:08am
I try not to overreact. I would stop and look deep into myself to find the answer of how and why I feel this way. Sometimes I would google online for "adjectives of emotions". There are loads of adjectives that can help me identify my emotions.
January 29th, 2016 5:30am
You have to learn more about them. Try researching the psychology and the philosophy behind feelings, you'll be surprised :)