Three Ways to Prevent Emotions from Affecting Your Judgment

Woman looking out her window

Now and then, we get into a situation where our emotions are strongly stirred, and we tend to make unwise decisions. Extremes of emotion, both negative and positive, are capable of influencing us in such a way that we act uncharacteristically, saying or doing things we regret later. Of course, when critical matters are at stake, professionals such as a family law attorney or therapist will be there to provide guidance and direction. But in everyday scenarios, you need to fall upon the right habits and practices to help think clearly. Here are some that could prove invaluable.

Use active listening

To quote Idries Shah, “the word spoken in haste” is one of three things that can’t be retrieved. A conversation that turns into a heated argument is one of the most common situations wherein emotions (on both sides) can get the upper hand, and anything you say in anger can never really be taken back. Such conflicts can be avoided by practicing the skill of active listening. By paying full attention to the speaker, you pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues, which help you comprehend their message within its proper context and avoid misunderstanding. Doing so will also ease the other person’s frustration as they will feel that they are truly being heard and understood. Finally, since people tend to subconsciously mirror each other’s behavior in conversation, you’ll be able to inject an element of calm into the discussion and have others reciprocate by listening to you as well.

woman feeling stressed at work

Shift your perception

How often have you heard the advice to “slow down” or “keep calm” whenever you get emotional? Putting that into practice can be difficult without any concrete step to take. One easy way to do this in any situation is to shift your perception and take in some details of your surroundings. Engage the rational side of your brain—by naming objects around the room, for instance, or trying to find an adjective to describe each one. The popular tactic of breathing deeply and focusing on your breath for several counts also works on the same principle. These techniques force your brain to stop wandering and ruminating, which feed your emotional drive. Not only will this allow your reason to reassert control, but it also reduces your susceptibility to chronic stress, which can adversely impact your well-being afterward.

Exert yourself

Physical exercise is known to boost our body’s levels of endorphins, which are ‘feel-good’ chemicals; thus, it’s a recognized way to combat the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. But exercise doesn’t simply make you feel more upbeat—being physically active increases your assertiveness and confidence, and provides greater emotional stability. The next time you’re dealing with a lot of emotions that could cloud your judgment, head out for a brisk walk, lift some weights, or do some other form of exercise that is intense enough to get your heart rate up and those positive effects flowing. Physical activity will clear your mind and let you make decisions untroubled by emotions.

Moments in which our emotions sway our thinking can come up every day. By practicing these steps, you can swiftly respond to counteract their influence and exercise sound judgment in any situation.

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