Two strategies that will help you feel more in control of your emotional responses and be more effective.  

It may not always feel like it, but emotions are our superpowers. Anxiety shows up when there is a threat and helps us avoid unnecessary harm. Sadness helps us connect with others and get the support we need when we experience losses and disappointment. Anger helps us fight for what’s important to us. 

However, there are also times when our emotions are amplified and can lead is to act in ways that are unhelpful and which we may later regret. Here are two strategies that will help you when you get “hooked” by unhelpful emotions, thoughts or memories.

  1. Engage your wise mind

Marsha Linehan proposed that there are three states of mind; emotional mind, reasonable mind and wise mind. When we are in emotional mind, our behaviour is based on our emotions; we are at the whim of our emotion action urges and make choices based purely on how we feel at the time. When we are in  our reasonable mind, we choose actions based on intellectual knowledge, facts and reason. Wise mind is the intersection of emotional and reasonable mind; it’s when we use our inner wisdom to choose behaviours based on both (i)  how we feel and what’s important to us and (i) the logical information available to us. 

Strategy: Next time you find yourself in emotional mind, and realise that you are being driven by your emotions, see if you can slow things down. 1. Notice the emotion you are feeling and name it. 2. Take a steady breath. 3. Think about what you are responding to and ask your wise mind “What is the most effective thing for me to do now?”. Or, if you are in a dilemma, ask wise mind a question (e.g “What should I do now?”), then sit back and listen for the answer.

  1. Weather an emotional storm by “Dropping Anchor”.

It is very easy to get “hooked” by unwanted thoughts, memories or emotions and when this happens we can easily feel overwhelmed, like we are in an emotional storm or tornado. At times like this,  “Dropping Anchor” can help you to steady yourself so that you can avoid being pulled off course, much like a boat’s anchor stops it being blown around in a storm at sea. 


A – Acknowledge your difficult thoughts, memories and emotions.

Label your experiences. E.g. “I am feeling anxious” “I am having a memory from when I was 17”.

C – Connect with your body. 

Start to gently move your attention away from your mind, by moving parts of your body, e.g. wiggle your toes, shrug your shoulders, give yourself a hug, move around, or stretch. Whatever feels comfortable for you. Notice that you can control what you do with your body. You are in control of this moment.

E – Engage in the world around you. 

Notice what is going on around you. What  can you see, hear, smell? Now do something that matters to you. Move around, get active. 

These strategies all involve gently shifting your awareness and attention away from your internal world and into the present, so that you can feel more in control of your actions and choices. Some people call this mindfulness. We have lots of tools within this app that will help you to train your attention in this way. Explore and see what works for you.