Managing Emotion


Why blow up and pile on when an action indicates loss of self-control? Do you fall into the equation of bad mood = bad actions = bad relationships? You bet. We all do. Spare the rod and spoil the child? No. Think about it – can you teach kids not to hit somebody by hitting them? Better alternative: It’s just a matter of managing emotions better, as this father did in the case example below.


A 10-year-old Empathizer son asked to ride with his dad on the lawnmower. The Instigator dad who demands respect said, “No,” because there was homework to do. The son threw a fit and was put into his room for timeout by his mom. The son was so upset he twisted and broke his eyeglasses in half and threw them out of his room as he was spewing and crying.

How would you respond? Would you react and go off on a tirade? That depends, I suspect, on whether or not you are managing your emotions sensibly.


What would an Instigator dad, consciously using Empathizer strengths, do? How do you avoid having an anger outburst that’s going to be perceived as bullying?

Use The Calming Technique. Say to yourself: “Listen. Just drop it. Drop that angry response that’s just dying to come spewing forth from my guts. How do I find the soft spot? I’m going to let this go internally. I’m going to let the anger go. I’m going to set aside my frustration, right here, right now. Getting mad and yelling won’t help anything. He has enough trouble as it is. He’s got to work through it. His mom is already talking with him. I need to let it be. She won’t appreciate my stepping into a discipline process that she has already initiated.

Focus On What Results You Will Get. Say to yourself: “What result can I expect? A calmer mind and a calmer outward appearance and demeanor would be most evident. A calmer presence will let those around you appreciate your attitude and self-control. Far less relationship escalation or drama will be appreciated by everyone involved. Mom said, “Thank you for letting me handle the situation and for backing me up. I’m glad you didn’t blow up and cause another problem.”


It’s personal when you feel slighted or disrespected by someone with whom you have a personal connection or tie. You feel similarly when someone you care about is slighted. How to slow down the steps in an anger outburst…

  • Catch the feeling of rejection (inappropriate behavior that somebody’s done something wrong and needs to be punished) before it takes over
  • Let go of, “How could you have done that or said that?” as resentments arise
  • Catch the feeling of retribution or payback before it engulfs you
  • Consciously set aside your rights to retribution
  • Make the conscious choice to move into the Empathizer role
  • Accept that there doesn’t need to be retribution or a lesson learned

After all, what lesson can be learned from paybacks and retribution? That adults can act crazy…or that adults can’t or won’t control their anger outbursts…and they blame others for their moods. What outcome do you desire? That together we find a way to get through tough situations and become stronger and more connected as a result of those tough situations?


Dr. Dennis O’Grady, Dayton clinical psychologist,  shares how to improve your mood and relationships, using unbeatable TALK2ME tools.

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