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Having emotional control does not mean being unemotional. Emotions are the spice of your existence. They give variety and flavor to life. The last thing you want to do is become like Mr. Spock on Star Trek. You do not want to “flat-line” your emotions, just keep them within a healthy range.

Positive emotions are, almost by definition, healthy ­– happiness, joy, love, excitement, enthusiasm. There are two variations of negative emotions, healthy and unhealthy.

There are three primary healthy negative emotional groupings. They are sadness, concern, and frustration.

The emotions can become unhealthy and are expressed as depression, worry/anxiety,  and anger/rage.

Some people have defended unhealthy emotions such as anger by saying, “But anger is good. It gets people to instigate change, to do things.”

This is true. Anger can be motivating. It is definitely not boring. It gets the heart pounding. But the real issue is that anger is simply an exaggeration of frustration. Everything positive that anger gives you actually comes from the frustration.

Frustration gets you off your chair to protest, take charge or take a stand against injustice. But anger will also intimidate others or get them to war against you. Anger will get you to unnecessarily act aggressively, help to create an adversary, raise your blood pressure, aggravate ulcers and asthma, and give you an early coronary – all in one fell swoop.

Inflate sadness and you get depression. Exaggerate concern and you get worry or anxiety. Amplify the emotion of frustration and you will get anger or rage. The few positives that occasionally occur when emotions are intensified, come from the underlying sadness, concern and frustration, and not from the depression, anxiety or anger. Unhealthy emotions tend to keep you stuck, rigid and emotionally trapped.

Emotional control is about developing the ability to determine, with a good degree of certainty, how you will choose to feel. Healthy emotions promote psychological flexibility, better relationships, enhanced functionality, wiser decision making and greater creativity (for solving problems).

Unhealthy emotions can keep you stuck in your own dysfunction, which leads to more distress, less creativity, poor decisions and relationships that help to reinforce and support your own special brand of craziness.

We all have presented ourselves in a certain way that is untrue or artificial for some practical reason. You’re with a small child and want to appear calm at the sight of a spider, while inside you want to scream. Or, you might be incensed at something your spouse said to you at a party, but you continue to smile so as not to interfere with the flow of the event. This is not emotional control. This is emotionally hiding. It is a cover-up. It is a self-presentation lie put on for a particular reason.

Emotional control is the ability to control, navigate or consciously decide on which particular emotions you will have. While I have never met anyone with perfect emotional control, all of us have varying degrees of control.

Learn more about how to better manage your emotions by reading my free article How to Feel Great! on the magazine’s website,


Sadness is past oriented and is a normal and a healthy expression of disappointment. Sadness turns into depression when the situation is viewed as hopeless and the future looks bleak. Focus on resolving the issue and keep looking forward to better days. Over time the sadness will dissipate as you move forward, making today and tomorrow better.


Anxiety and worry are future oriented emotions that focus on the negative. Unless you know something negative is about to happen, the future is a neutral. You don’t know if it will be positive or negative. When faced with a neutral, assume a positive outcome. If it’s negative, you’ll deal with it at the time. Trust that you can overcome adversity. If you know you going to be up against something negative, get prepared to resolve issues and know your load will lighten in the future.


How often have you been angry over something that in 10 minutes does not matter? Anger usually stems from hanging onto the past, fretting over something that you believe should not have happened. Rightly or wrongly, what happened is in the past. It’s over. Ask yourself what you can do today to accept or resolve the situation. Be calm, find compromise or refocus. Don’t let the injustices of life keep you stuck. Work toward an accepting attitude while taking charge. Make today wonderful for you and those around you. Remember, laughter is often the best medicine for what ails us.