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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
July 10th, 2015 7:18pm
If I get stuck on how I am feeling I write down how I am feeling at the time. Happy, sad or angry. I then write down what happened in my day. This way I can try and break down some event that occurred that might have triggered this emotion in myself.
July 10th, 2015 8:24pm
I've always had a way of figuring out what i'm feeling, whether it is anxiety or depression. The biggest fear dwells within the negative self-talk you most likely induced. It is all in your imagination, with Positive Self-Talk and Reinforcement, you can conquer these emotions. You'll be able to cope better and have a greater restraint on your emotions.
July 11th, 2015 5:28am
i remember feeling so many different ways at once after i had a medical procedure done. i was so confused about how i feel, at one point i didnt even want to label anything. I just wanted it to keep bubbling and festering so i would feel like i am about to burst. Then i was walking and tears began to threaten and i was so horrified because someone was sure to ask what was wrong and i could not share what was wrong. So i held it in and plugged in my earphones, found a quiet space and allowed myself to not just feel but label my emotions as i relived my experience. Then i cried and mourned and spoke to someone i trusted, and i felt alot calmer. Then i had a closure ceremony, where i was brutally honest with myself, and i shared this ceremony with someone i trusted where i felt safe enough to be vulnerable. i cried, screamed, cuddled. A huge weight was lifted because i left everything at that spot. Everyday is better. Now i think about how i feel, what is making me feel this way, what can i do to change it. Always ask myself do i need support with this
July 11th, 2015 5:28am
Take yoga classes, get in touch with your inner self and find what makes you happy first, then you can put things into perspective. Knowledge is power.
July 11th, 2015 2:40pm
It really depends on your situation. There could be certain things setting off your emotions. Lifestyle choices, food, family, friends, work stress, educational stress, mental health problems; literally anything could set off random emotions. I don't know anything about you or your life but some people have said that to get to the route of the problem and then get help for those problems is to go see a counsellor who may or mat not advise you to go to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You may want to see your GP first and see what they have to advise you. There's also a self-help guide here that may be of use to you: I hope this information is helpful and that you feel better soon.
July 11th, 2015 3:29pm
you need to think about what makes you happy and what makes you sad and remember everything that makes you happy in these situations
July 11th, 2015 8:52pm
When I have trouble understanding what I'm feeling, I try to pay special attention to my thoughts. Are my thoughts positive or are they negative? Once I determine if what I'm feeling is positive or negative, I think about why I may be feeling what I am.
July 12th, 2015 2:47am
Well, first one must ask what is it that you're going through at the moment and try ti find the reason why you are feeling like that. Then, you will understand better what you are feeling.
July 12th, 2015 9:20am
The first thing that you need to do is to stop and think. Reflect on your emotional state. If you don't know what you're feeling, you haven't taken the time to think about it. Through careful introspection, you may learn to better recognize when you're emotions are out of control or not.
July 12th, 2015 10:53am
I find the best way to deal with the issue is to understand that everyone feels out of control to some degree at some point. Our emotions often come in layers like the layers of an onion. You may have to peel a few layers before you reach the heart of the matter. It takes time to gain a deep understanding of your own emotions, but it starts with baby steps. But no one becomes a guru of their own internal workings over night, the best place to start is to practice breathing and relaxation techniques when your emotions start boiling over. This will help you manage your confusing emotions in the heat of the moment. Once you can relax the you will be able to start practicing self-awareness and looking for clues as to why you reacted the way you did. Try asking yourself "What happened right before I felt so angry" or "What was I thinking about when I suddenly started to feel sad?". In time you will see a pattern develop. These can serve as hints to help you gain a better understanding of your emotions. Best Wishes, Starlight
July 15th, 2015 12:05am
It's normal not to know what your emotions really are. But you just have to do a basic thing: breath. Breath deeply as many times as you need, count until 10, 100, 1000. Of course this won't make the feeling go away, but it will control your heart for a few time, and that is already a huge step.
July 15th, 2015 1:14am
To learn to control my emotions I need to know what they are. To learn to know what they are, I would use the arts to express my emotions. Arts like painting, reading, dance, theatre, music provide the opportunity to express emotions at a deeper level. In the absence of access to the arts, I would create a journal which will help me express myself. Alternately I would seek help in a forum like 7 cups of tea.
July 15th, 2015 8:42am
It can be difficult to understand your feelings, and even more difficult to become in control of these emotions. Speaking from personal experience, seeing a licensed professional can EXTREMELY help you to not only manage and control your emotions, but to fully understand how you are feeling. If, for some reason, you do not have access to a therapist or counselor or another licensed professional, figure out things that calm you down. When do you feel the most at ease? Is it while listening to music? Is it while texting a friend? Is it while swimming? Once you find your own personal "happy place," it is easier to try and become a part of that place rather than whatever place your negative emotions take you.
July 16th, 2015 3:55pm
It's not about controlling them sometimes, often it's more about letting yourself feel whatever it is you're feeling. Your emotions are valid and you are entitled to feel however you are feeling. Once you start that you can start to figure out what they are and how to handle and cope with them.
July 17th, 2015 2:06pm
You can start with identifying them and then try to find what causes you to feel like it, so you can control them by not doing the trigger.
July 17th, 2015 3:49pm
Controlling emotions and controlling thoughts are a matter of where your attention is. If you embrace negative emotions or submit to them or chase the thoughts, we become absorbed in them. To get a break from our emotions or thinking, we can use this simple exercise that can be done anywhere. While breathing naturally, silently count one on the inhale. Two on the exhale, three on the inhale...continuing up to 10. Then start at one again. As time allows you can continue to allow the breath to get deeper and still maintain natural breathing. Would you like to try it now? So having tried it, how do you feel?
July 18th, 2015 3:12am
Usually, I would engage myself in an activity that I like. Reading a new books, writing a poem or anything, baking or even drawing . It all helped.
July 18th, 2015 9:36am
You can try to find out what your emotions are by asking yourself what doesn't make you feel good at the moment, what lead to your current situation. Try to think about things that might distract you or made you feel happy or at least better in the past. Sometimes we don't really know what our emotions are but still we can try make ourselves feel better by taking care of ourselves, treat ourselves and do small positive things :)
July 19th, 2015 4:49am
You seem to be out of touch with yourself. You can try to observe your emotions when you are talking to someone or when you are doing an activity. Is it happiness, boredom, or mere indifference? Meditation simply by listening to your breath is another way to realise your current emotional state. Shutting your mind's endless chatter works wonders via meditation. Sending good vibes, Tejash:)
July 19th, 2015 6:46pm
I think that the best thing to do is sit down and really think about how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. Sometimes we generalize our feelings without ever getting to the real root of them. For example, anger is the product of many underlying emotions, such as fear, and pain. Without truly examining the underlying issue you may have more difficulty controlling them.
July 19th, 2015 11:57pm
Taking a couple of deep breathes, to calm your mind, will typically help to make you feel more in control. Therefore you will be able to sort out your emotions and from there be able to find a way to deal with it.
July 22nd, 2015 4:09am
Stay calm, take a deep breath, analyse your thoughts and don't do anything irrational or under emotional impulse.
July 22nd, 2015 3:06pm
You can learn to control your emotions when you dont even know what they are by trying to calm down. For me, I try counting to as high as I can get. That doesn't work for everybody, but it did for me.
July 23rd, 2015 1:49am
take it slow and think of what made you feel this way and if you feel down try and keep thinking positive thoughts and don't worry yourself to much!
July 23rd, 2015 11:26am
Relaxing and writing down what you feel (even if you can't exactly name those feelings) can help you to calm down and control a bit.
July 23rd, 2015 8:42pm
It sounds like you're confused about what you're feeling. Taking time to self-reflect can be a huge change; what actions have resulted from your emotions?
July 24th, 2015 1:47am
Just stop and think of what you have. Keep going don't give up. You have it in you and you can't let it go.
July 24th, 2015 5:41am
Practice mindfulness, especially meditation. When you clear your mind of all of the distractions of the little things, it becomes easier to experience your emotions in the moment.
July 24th, 2015 12:51pm
You can simply choose to avoid whatever is causing your un-named emotions. If you felt better, then whatever you avoided had to be avoided. But if you felt worse, then get back to that someone or something you avoided.
July 24th, 2015 9:19pm
A short mindfulness body scan exercise helps me to take a moment for myself, without distractions, to discover what I am feeling and allow myself to feel it. Though it felt weird the first couple of times I did this, after a couple of times it felt like a great way to get in touch with myself without being stimulated by the 1000 other things going on around me that I needed to tend to. Some useful downloads can be found here: