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7 Pillars of Positive Resilience: Control

Control – the third pillar of Positive Resilience

PEOPLE WHO STAY CALM UNDER PRESSURE MAKE BETTER DECISIONS AND COPE MORE EFFECTIVELY

As we struggle with the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, the peoplewise 7 Pillars of Positive Resilience, are making a tangible difference to peoples’ lives. Positive Resilience is the science and practice of developing mastery over our ability to not just cope with disruption and challenges but thrive and reach our full potential for happiness and success.

Today’s topic is the third pillar: Control, which refers to our ability to manage our emotions under pressure – rather than have our emotions control us.

You probably know people who just ‘lose it’ when things don’t go their way, lashing out and reacting impulsively. One of the most famous tennis players of all time, John McEnroe was renowned for his emotional reactions to situations. When we experience severe reactions to stress in this way, we tend to adopt less effective coping strategies and our decision making can be compromised.

Positively resilient people, on the other hand, have the ability to stay calm under pressure, controlling their emotional reaction and engaging in rational, logical, thinking. They can harness their emotions to elicit helpful behaviours that will optimise their performance. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are good examples of people who were well known for keeping calm and responding carefully to provocation. Such people have the insight and skills to manage their emotions and responses.

Developing Control

Building emotional control means finding ways to cope with your initial emotional reaction, to give your brain time to kick in so you can come up with helpful reactions.

You probably already know the main thing to do when reacting to pressure: stop and take a breath – literally. Give yourself a moment to step back, take stock, anticipate, and prioritise your response. This gives time for your rational brain to come to the fore so you can think logically, and gives you time to respond thoughtfully, rather than react emotionally.1,2 You can also use deep breathing and relaxation exercises to calm and harness negative emotions such as frustration or anger and help you regain control.

References and further reading

  1. Harvard researcher says the most emotionally intelligent people have these 12 traits. Which do you have? Daniel Goleman in CNBC, June 2020
  2. 6 Mental Habits of People Who Manage Their Emotions Remarkably Well, Marcel Schwantes in Inc.com, April 2018