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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: 04/20/2020 at 6:41pm
★ This question about Managing Emotions was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Shawn Wilson, LCSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

I provide supportive counseling and psychotherapy. I utilize cognitive-behavioral and solution focused strategies to address client concerns. Personal coaching is available.

Top Rated Answers
March 20th, 2018 4:31pm
You can learn to control your emotions when you don't even know what they are by looking at if they're is a trigger that triggered it, finding ways to slow the emotions arising too.
June 10th, 2015 7:46pm
It is difficult to control your emotions when you, yourself cannot even label it and know what you are feeling.
June 18th, 2015 10:10pm
Controlling emptions just needs a lot of Will Power. You just have to be strong and think positive x
June 18th, 2015 10:52pm
It's hard to learn to control them when you can't identify them, so maybe work on identifying your emotions. Think, "how am I feeling about ______?" Happy? Sad? Scared? Confused? Something else? You can look up emotion lists, pinpoint one that sounds right, and then start to work on those emotions :)
June 19th, 2015 2:21am
If you don't even know what they are, I think you have a lot more self-reflecting to do.
June 19th, 2015 4:23am
Its hard to control your emotions when you don't even know what they are, so first you should probably try to identify them. I'm sure the people around you can give you the support you need.
June 19th, 2015 6:48am
Good question. And that starts by identifying your emotions. Which is sometimes way harder than it sounds! Something I like to do, is examine whether my very basic needs are being met. Do I feel hungry? Am I sleepy/tired? Do I feel lonely? If you find some of your basic needs aren't fulfilled - Meet them, and revisit. Get some rest, have a snack, etc. It's hard to believe the emotional havoc lacking those things can wreak on us. Then revisit and reassess. How was your day? Did anything make you feel stressed? Do you have deadlines you're having a hard time meeting? Ask yourself(on paper, if you like) very basic questions about your day, or week- Kind of like you would chat with a friend. Sometimes it is very easy to get lost in a swirl of emotions, and we have to take a step back and look at it a little more objectively to get an understanding of it. Once you identify what's really plaguing you, that's half the battle right there.
June 19th, 2015 7:40am
It isn't necessarily control, it's learning to accept that you don't know exactly what they are but realizing that you need to learn how to effectively assess them and understand how they affect you.
June 19th, 2015 4:35pm
You can start a thought diary or use any app for that. Start writing your emotions. When you start writing, you learn automatically what they are, the underlying reason behind them most of the times. Then, you can work on controlling them. Controlling emotions becomes easier when you learn to label them and keep a record of them. The next step can be treating the emotions as thoughts and not as you.
June 19th, 2015 5:45pm
You relax yourself. No matter what emotion it is, if you're relaxed I'm sure you can control it. Music works for me :)
June 19th, 2015 7:38pm
I've had this problem before. Focus on what your feeling, is it emptiness or is it fire in your heart? You can classify emotions based on what you're feeling.
June 19th, 2015 9:27pm
It can be hard trying to identify our emotions. Take it a step at a time
June 20th, 2015 3:09am
personally, i google them. no matter how cliche it sounds, it works. plus, there's always people that have thought about the same thing and considered it enough to put it out there.
June 20th, 2015 6:02am
You find out what they are and then get a mantra or something to take your mind off of it. Whenever I get really mad or sad or overwhelmed by some emotion, I look for a punching bag or an inanimate replacement for one. But that's me. You find something that works for you :)
June 20th, 2015 10:16am
One approach to this problem can be to shift your focus from trying to identify your emotions to noticing how your body is affected by them. By noticing how you experience emotions in your body it is possible to learn to these effects and this may also give you information to allow you to identify the emotion involved. Examples might be: if you notice your breathing changes concentrating on regulating that or on relaxing muscles that tense when you feel these emotions. This approach comes from the sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy.
June 20th, 2015 3:12pm
I suggest simply rationalizing what you are feeling, why you are feeling that and whether it is okay to feel this way or not. My therapist taught me those things and if you think about your emotions and what triggered them, why they were triggered, whether you should be upset or sad about it, whether you have control of it ect helps kind of get rid of the emotions and it's also a self improvement skill.
June 20th, 2015 6:29pm
its hard to know what to do with some emotions when you cant even explain or understand what these emotions mean
June 20th, 2015 11:42pm
The way that I control my emotions is I just let my heart and soul out in the form of art. Weather it be painting or poetry, I blast some music and just let all my emotions out. Then I step back and look at whatever I created and then I see whatever emotion I was feeling
June 21st, 2015 3:20am
Controlling your emotions is a hard thing to begin with! The first step is figuring out what you are feeling and identify and name the emotions and rate them... whether its anger and your feeling ticked off or your enraged, you need to be honest with yourself! Then its really important to figure out why you are feeling that way and how to manage that! Whether it is finding coping mechanisms that help with your feelings so you can keep them in check or knowing triggers of feelings, so you know what you can and cannot handle! You need to be upfront and honest with yourself! Noone knows you better than you!
June 21st, 2015 7:43am
Always stay positive. Negatives affect the emotions which can start a downward spiral. Positives do the opposite, as they make you feel good about yourself or the situation.
June 21st, 2015 3:56pm
write things down. seriously, just write every feeling/word/happening down. it doesn't have to be a fluent sentence or story. maybe just single words and little drawings. maybe if it's all written down you see a pattern. but feelings don't have to have a label to exist.
June 21st, 2015 6:50pm
I find taking an internal step back for a short moment, letting my attention to settle on my breathing or sensations in the body is the first part of the process. When I'm not sure what I'm feeling, I find that I'm usually caught up in my thoughts, perhaps even swept away by them. Once my attention is more embodied, I let myself feel whatever emotion is present in a nonjudgemental way, as if I'm being there for a friend or a child. I don't have to name feelings, I just let them be without acting on them. At their core, I think feelings usually have a message so I try to find out what that message is too.
June 21st, 2015 10:39pm
In therapy I have been learning a lot about identifying certain emotions and giving them a name. It is possible to get to the point where you can identify them, through association. You can associate certain things or phrases with those feelings. Also, thinking out loud helps. You can (and I do this a lot) say out loud what is going on in your head to help pinpoint what the emotions are. Eventually when you're able to identify, you can control them by acknowledging their existence, and going about whatever coping strategy works best for you.
June 24th, 2015 3:27am
Try to take a deep breath and explore what is really bothering you. If that seems too difficult at the moment, then distract yourself and then come back to it at a later time. Once you deal with the issue, you can learn to control it
June 24th, 2015 4:34am
The simplest way is to calm down, breathe, relax and think. Doing this releases stress from the brain and calms the nerves of the body down so that the body can think and act properly
June 24th, 2015 7:56am
Try to always think before "doing" and to county 10 seconds before blurting something out that may come out the wrong way.
June 24th, 2015 10:57am
Spend time with yourself. Try and identify the trigger which makes you feel what you feel now. The heart will answer in its time. You can also approach another person for help.
June 24th, 2015 3:49pm
Possibly by writing down your feelings you are able to discern what kind of emotions you are getting. You are able to see what you are feeling and understand that you can make things better for yourself.
June 24th, 2015 9:24pm
if you talk to a listener on the site about how you're feeling they may be able to help you identify what it is you're feeling, also feel free to check out the managing emotions self help guide on the site.
June 25th, 2015 4:06am
By understanding that everyone is always undergoing their own personal issues. Despite some things you hear being upsetting,it is important to keep a clear mind and communicate clearly with the person. By being there for them and letting them know you understand their feelings,you are helping them greatly.