Mastering Your Emotions: 7 tips to get you back in control

We are emotional beings! And with that I don’t mean we-women, I mean we-humans. Because often looked upon differently: men have just as much emotions as women. Only they might show their emotions less.  

How to regulate your emotions

Some people think they’re rational beings. Well, they’re not. Maybe they think about their emotions and make them sound very rational but in fact people are driven by emotions. That’s simply how our brain works (read more on how emotions really work according to new neuroscientific research here).

Emotions completely control you. Unless you control them. But how do you do that?

7 tips to regulate your emotions:

1. Make sure your body is in balance

To master your emotions, you can best start by taking care of your physical well-being. Adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and regular physical activity are essential. I know you’ve heard this a thousand times. But now we know how this directly influences your emotions and it’s mind blowing (read more about The Theory on Constructed Emotions by Lisa Feldman Barret).

Your brain continuously gets information from the organs in your body, like the amount of glucose or oxygen in your blood. It’s purely sensory information by then, without any meaning. Your brain then uses your concepts (constructed in the past) to make sense of this information combined with external information it gets.

Too little glucose in your blood after running a marathon can make you feel exhausted or make your son ‘hangry’. A lack of sleep can make you feel down and a lack of affection can make you feel lonely. These are all subjective interpretations based on your concepts.

When a neurological network collects this sensory information and predicts something based on our self-created concepts, emotions arise. So emotions don’t necessarily mean that something is wrong, but just that your body is out of balance for a while. With negative emotions, our brain is actually letting us know that we need to replenish certain reserves.

When people haven’t slept enough and are fatigued or low energy, they may feel hungry (because they’ve been hungry before when their energy was low) and may think that a quick snack will boost their energy. In fact, they’re just tired from lack of sleep. This constructed experience of hunger may be one reason why people gain unwanted weight.

Your brain wants you to be healthy, so it will keep on giving you these signals until the balance in your body will be restored. Therefore emotions are always ruling; it’s a matter of life and death!

So taking good care of your health and maintaining the balance in your body needs to be your first priority.

2. Change your predictions

Our brain is continuously predicting. Predictions transform flashes of light into the objects you see. They turn changes in air pressure into recognisable sounds, and traces of chemicals into smells and tastes. Predictions let you read the sentences on this page and understand them as letters and words and ideas.

A bunch of neurons make their best guess about what will happen in the immediate future, based on whatever combination of past and present that your brain is currently conjuring. Usually your brain has several ways to deal with a given situation, and it creates a flurry of predictions and estimates probabilities for each one. Is that rustling sound in the forest due to the wind, an animal, an enemy fighter, or a shepherd? Is that long, brown shape a branch, a staff, or a rifle? Ultimately, in each moment, some prediction is the winner. Often, it’s the prediction that best matches the incoming sense data, but not always. Either way, the winning prediction becomes your action and your sensory experience. (Read more about your brains predictions here).

So if you’ll change your predictions you can change your experience and therefore your reality. But how?

One of the ways how to do this is with the REtAc method, developed by change and leadership expert Wassili Zafiris. Clients that were dealing with physical and mental problems for years, state their issues are solved ‘miraculously’ only in a few sessions. I’m very happy to tell you more about how I use this method and what it can do for you.

 3. Train emotional awareness

Understanding and recognising different emotions can help a lot. Emotional granularity, or the ability to pinpoint specific emotions, allows you to respond more effectively to what you’re feeling. So start with writing down all the emotions you know and then play around with them. Which ones do you experience often? And which ones seldom? This is a very helpful tool for kids as well. Research found the better kids can tell which exact emotion they experience the happier they are. The book The Atlas of the Heart from Brene Brown is an amazing read to explore what all the different emotions mean.

Some more tips to enhance your emotional granularity:

– Notice Subtle Differences

• Pay attention to subtle variations in your emotional experiences.
• Distinguish between closely related emotions (e.g., different types of sadness or joy).

– Use Specific Labels:

• Practice using specific and detailed emotion labels.
• Instead of broad categories, identify the precise emotion you are feeling.

– Journaling:

• Maintain a journal to record your daily emotional experiences.
• Describe emotions in detail, including their triggers and nuances.

-Reflect on Context:

• Consider the specific context in which emotions arise.
• Reflect on how different situations or environments influence the quality of your emotions.

– Body Sensations:

• Connect physical sensations with specific emotional experiences.
• Note how bodily reactions may vary across different emotional states.

– Mindful Observation:

• Practice mindful observation of your emotions without immediate judgment.
• Allow yourself to fully experience and articulate the intricacies of each emotion.

• Social Emotional Awareness:

• Extend your granularity to the emotions of others.
• Notice and appreciate the subtle emotional cues in the people around you.

• Feedback from Others:

• Seek feedback from trusted friends or family about your emotional expressions.
• Ask for input on whether they perceive subtle differences in your emotional states.

 4. Choose your words consciously

Your words hold immense power in shaping your reality. Your brain predicts emotions based on past experiences and language, influencing your current emotional state. Choose your words carefully; your choice of words can influence how you conceptualise and communicate your emotions.

“Words seed your concepts, concepts drive your predictions, predictions regulate your body budget, and your body budget determines how you feel. Therefore, the more finely grained your vocabulary, the more precisely your predicting brain can calibrate your budget to your body’s needs.” – Lisa Feldman Barret.

Tips to become more conscious in choosing your words:

– Use Metaphors:

• Experiment with metaphors to describe your emotions.
• Relate your emotional experiences to specific imagery that captures their essence.

– Start journaling

• Engage in regular journaling to become conscious of the words you use.

– Emotion-Word Linkage:

• Understand the link between emotions and the words you use to express them. Words play a role in shaping and interpreting emotional experiences.

– Social Context:

• Acknowledge the social and cultural context of your words. Language is influenced by societal norms, and the meaning of words can vary in different contexts.

– Individual Differences:

• Recognise that individuals may have different emotional concepts and linguistic expressions. Be mindful of these differences in communication.

– Predictive Coding:

• Understand the brain’s predictive coding mechanism.

– Communication Impact:

• Be mindful of how your choice of words can impact others. Language can influence the emotional experiences of both the speaker and the listener.

– Embodied Nature of Language:

• Acknowledge the embodied nature of language. Language is closely tied to the body and its sensations, influencing emotional experiences.

5. Try out new things!

We shape and anticipate our current emotions by drawing from our past experiences. This implies that our present intentions and actions serve as blueprints for predicting tomorrow’s intentions and actions. By infusing innovative thoughts, concepts, experiences, and activities into today, we have the power to design and structure our future days.

So start to learn a new language, dive into other cultures or start playing a new sport or musical instrument. But also movies, books, podcasts, articles, radio shows will help you create new concepts. The more positive experiences and concepts you create the more positive predictions and emotions can arise from that.

  6. Ask Questions

Instead of making assumptions about others’ emotions or intentions, ask questions to gain clarity. Recognise that everyone has their unique concepts, and communication requires aligning those concepts. Otherwise it could be that your brain predicts things (‘my partner told me he wants to talk to me tonight, I think he’s gonna leave me’) that are based on past concepts (the last time I had this same feeling I was 6 and my dad wanted to talk to me, he was leaving the family). Asking your partner what he wants to talk about can help you prevent a shit load of unjust predictions and a miserable day.

7. Manage Your State

Practice techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and mindfulness. These methods enable you to be in a conscious state and respond to situations more calmly and consciously.

Now you can embark on a journey to master your emotions, creating a foundation for emotional resilience, healthier relationships, and a more balanced and fulfilling life.

How to lead with Empathy, Compassion, and Altruism

Prosocial behaviours, such as empathy, compassion, and altruism, are essential components of wise leadership as they have profound impacts on both the leader and those they lead. According to neuroscientist and author Dilip Jeste, wise people understand that their role extends beyond their individual success and encompasses the well-being and growth of their teams and organisations. In this article I explain why empathy, compassion and altruism are essential skills for a wise leader and how to develop and strengthen these skills.

The Power of Empathy in Leadership

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the emotions of others. It’s a more complicated emotional skill set than we often think. 

Researchers distinguish between two types of empathy: cognitive and affective empathy. Cognitive and affective empathy both require understanding the feelings of another person, but while cognitive empathy is the ability to recognise and understand another’s mental state, affective empathy is the ability to share the feelings of others.

Professor and author Dr. Brene Brown states that we can respond empathically only if we are willing to be fully present to someone’s pain, acknowledging and validating their experiences. If we’re not willing to do that, it’s not real empathy.

In leadership, empathy plays a pivotal role in creating an inclusive and supportive work environment. Empathy enables leaders to understand the perspectives and emotions of their team members, foster trust, understanding, and teamwork by actively listening to their team members and demonstrating genuine care and concern.

This emotional connection builds stronger relationships and allows leaders to address individual needs and concerns more effectively. Furthermore, empathy positively impacts employee engagement and loyalty, as team members feel valued and understood, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity.

The Role of Compassion in Effective Leadership

Compassion takes empathy a step further by translating understanding into action. Compassionate leaders create a positive work culture where kindness, support, and well-being are prioritised. They recognise and acknowledge the challenges and struggles faced by their team members, offering assistance and empathy. 

Compassion allows leaders to respond to the challenges and suffering of others with kindness and support, further strengthening relationships and fostering a sense of belonging among employees. This, in turn, enhances employee well-being, reduces stress, and improves overall job satisfaction, ultimately boosting productivity and organisational success.

The Value of Altruism in Wise Leadership

Altruism, often seen as the pinnacle of prosocial behaviors, involves selfless concern for the well-being of others. Wise leaders embody altruism by going above and beyond their responsibilities to support and uplift their team members. They actively seek opportunities to contribute and make a positive impact, demonstrating genuine care and support. Altruism, the selfless concern for others, drives wise leaders to make decisions and take actions that benefit the greater good, even if it requires personal sacrifice.

By displaying acts of selflessness and fostering a culture of altruism, leaders inspire and motivate their teams, creating a sense of purpose and dedication among employees. Altruistic leaders build loyalty, fostering an environment where collaboration and success thrive.

The Synergy of Prosocial Behaviours for Wise Leaders

Empathy, compassion, and altruism are not isolated qualities but rather interwoven aspects of wise leadership. When these prosocial behaviors work together synergistically, they enhance decision-making and problem-solving capabilities. 

Leaders who incorporate empathy into their decision-making process can better understand the impact of their choices on individuals and teams. Compassion ensures that decisions are made with consideration for the well-being of all stakeholders. Altruism drives leaders to make choices that benefit the greater good, fostering a culture of social responsibility and ethical leadership.

A catalyst for positive change 

Prosocial behaviors, including empathy, compassion, and altruism, are integral to wise leadership. By developing and incorporating these qualities, leaders foster trust, inspire loyalty, and create a positive work culture that enhances employee well-being and productivity. 

Through self-awareness, active listening, seeking diverse perspectives, practicing mindfulness, and leading by example, leaders can cultivate and strengthen their prosocial behaviors and experience personal growth and fulfillment. Engaging in acts of empathy, compassion, and altruism promotes self-reflection, humility, and a sense of purpose. This contributes to the leader’s own well-being and happiness, ultimately influencing their ability to lead with wisdom and authenticity.

Embracing empathy, compassion, and altruism in that way is not only a testament to wise leadership but also a catalyst for positive change within teams and organisations.

How to lead with empathy and compassion 

Professor educational psychology Kristin Neff emphasizes the importance of cultivating self-compassion as the foundation for showing compassion to others. Neff defines self-compassion as being kind and understanding towards oneself in moments of suffering, rather than being self-critical or judgmental. She believes that self-compassion, is vital for well-being, resilience, and healthy relationships.

Self-compassionate individuals are better equipped to offer genuine compassion to others. By developing a compassionate attitude towards oneself, individuals can connect with their own suffering and become more empathetic towards the pain of others. Compassion starts with self-care and self-understanding, which ultimately enhances the capacity to extend compassion to others.

Empathy and compassion are skills that can be developed and nurtured with practice. Hereby several actionable strategies to develop and strengthen prosocial behaviours:

– Understand how emotions work

It’s essential to understand how your emotions really work and how to regulate them. That’s where self-compassion and empathy starts.

– Cultivate self-awareness

Reflect on your own emotions, biases, and triggers. This self-awareness allows you to approach situations with empathy and compassion.


Developing self-compassion is the first step toward extending compassion to others. Be kind and understanding towards yourselve, especially in moments of difficulty or suffering. This involves treating oneself with the same care and compassion one would offer to a close friend.

– Mindful Awareness

By being present in the moment and paying attention to one’s own thoughts and emotions, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of their own experiences, which in turn enhances their capacity to understand and empathize with others.

– Practice Active Listening

Active listening involves being fully present and engaged when someone is speaking, giving them undivided attention, and demonstrating genuine interest in understanding their perspective. By practicing active listening, individuals can deepen their empathetic connection with others.

– Practice perspective-taking

Practice perspective-taking, which involves putting oneself in another person’s shoes and trying to understand their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. This requires openness, curiosity, and a willingness to suspend judgment. By actively engaging in perspective-taking, individuals can broaden their empathy and develop a more compassionate outlook.

–  Practice Meditation

Regularly engage in meditation and self care practices develops a deeper connection with your own emotions and needs. 

– Extend Acts of Kindness

Small acts of kindness, such as offering help, expressing gratitude, or showing support, can have a significant impact on others’ well-being. By intentionally engaging in kind and compassionate actions, individuals cultivate a habit of empathy and contribute to a more compassionate world.

By implementing these strategies, leaders can strengthen their empathetic and compassionate abilities, leading to enhanced relationships, personal growth, and a greater sense of well-being. 

Curious if you lead with empathy and compassion? Do the FREE Wise Leadership test.

7 reasons why wisdom is essential for successful leaders

Leadership requires a broad range of skills and qualities. While intelligence, knowledge, experience, and charisma are often associated with effective leadership, there is one attribute often overlooked, that stands out as a vital asset: wisdom. 

Wisdom goes beyond knowledge and expertise; it encompasses a deep understanding of oneself, others, and the world, and it plays a critical role in guiding leaders towards making sound decisions, inspiring others, and fostering positive change.

In today’s fast-paced world, wisdom is becoming more and more important for successful leaders facing a multitude of challenges, that require more than just intelligence and technical expertise. Leaders need wisdom, the ability to make sound judgments and decisions based on their experience, intuition, and ethical principles. 

why wisdom is a Very valuable asset for leaders:

1. Wise leaders foster a positive work culture

Leaders who prioritize wisdom understand the importance of creating a positive work culture. They are able to navigate conflicts and challenges with grace and humility, and they encourage their team members to do the same. This kind of culture leads to greater job satisfaction, productivity, and overall success.

Wisdom entails self understanding, reflection, emotional intelligence and empathy, enabling leaders to connect with others on a deeper level. The far most important skill for leaders is how they regulate their own emotions. Leaders who understand and regulate their own emotions are better equipped to handle difficult situations and build strong relationships.

2. Wise leaders make better decisions

Leaders face complex challenges and uncertain circumstances. Wisdom equips leaders with the ability to navigate through ambiguity and make informed choices. Wise leaders consider not only the short-term gains but also the long-term consequences and impact of their choices on various stakeholders.

They demonstrate a keen awareness of the limitations of their knowledge and are open to seeking diverse perspectives to arrive at well-considered decisions. They uphold moral principles, integrity, and fairness, ensuring that their actions align with the values and purpose of the organization. In challenging situations, wisdom guides leaders to make choices that benefit the greater good and uphold the ethical fabric of their organizations.

Wise leaders are known for their ability to make good decisions that benefit both their organization and the people they lead. They are able to evaluate complex situations and weigh the pros and cons of different options before making a choice. Their decision-making is guided not only by their experience and knowledge but also by their intuition and ethical values.

3. Wise leaders inspire trust

Wisdom entails emotional intelligence and empathy, enabling leaders to connect with others on a deeper level. Leaders who understand and regulate their own emotions are better equipped to handle difficult situations and build strong relationships. By demonstrating empathy, wise leaders foster a sense of trust, respect, and inclusivity within their teams, leading to enhanced collaboration and creativity.

Leaders who demonstrate wisdom are more likely to inspire trust and loyalty among their followers. Their wisdom helps them build rapport with their team members and stakeholders, leading to better communication, collaboration, and engagement.

4. Wise leaders adapt to change

Wise leaders possess a broader perspective that allows them to see the interconnectedness of various factors and anticipate potential consequences. They demonstrate a keen awareness of the limitations of their knowledge and are open to seeking diverse perspectives to arrive at well-considered decisions.

The world is constantly changing, and leaders who lack wisdom may struggle to keep up. However, wise leaders are able to adapt to changing circumstances and make the necessary adjustments to their strategies and approaches. Their wisdom helps them navigate uncertainty and ambiguity, and they are able to lead their organisations through difficult times with confidence and resilience.

5. Wise Leaders inspire and mentor others

Leadership is not just about achieving personal success; it is about inspiring and guiding others to reach their full potential. Wise leaders possess the ability to inspire and motivate individuals by sharing their knowledge, insights, and life experiences.

They serve as mentors, providing guidance and support to nurture the growth and development of their team members. Through their wisdom, leaders empower others to become wise leaders themselves.

6. Wise leaders Build Sustainable Organizations:

In an era characterized by global challenges such as climate change, social inequality, and economic instability, wise leaders understand the importance of building sustainable organizations.

They recognize the interconnectedness between the organization and its stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities, and the environment. Wisdom drives leaders to make choices that prioritise long-term sustainability and social responsibility, ensuring the organisation’s positive impact on society.

7. Wise leaders have a long-term vision

Wise leaders are able to think beyond short-term goals and focus on the long-term vision and mission of their organization. This involves strategic thinking, careful planning, and a willingness to take calculated risks.

Cultivating Wisdom

It’s wise to say that wisdom is a critical asset for leaders as it enables them to navigate complexity, make ethical decisions, inspire others, and build sustainable organisations. 

By cultivating wisdom, leaders can create a positive and inclusive work culture, make informed choices, and drive meaningful change. As the world continues to evolve, the need for wise leaders who can lead with compassion, empathy, and a long-term perspective becomes increasingly crucial.

Want to know more about Wise Leadership? Do the FREE Wise Leadership test.

How to Regulate Your Emotions and become a Wise leader

Wise leaders are very skilled at regulating their emotions. But how do they do that? And how can you learn it? In this article we explain how embracing past experiences can empower individuals to become wise leaders capable of navigating life’s challenges with resilience and clarity.

It’s probably not the first thing you had in mind, but understanding how emotions work is an important asset in the journey towards wisdom. The ability to regulate emotions and reflect on one’s actions, thoughts, and emotions is a key element of emotional intelligence and plays a crucial role in developing wise leaders.

Embracing past experiences can empower individuals to become wise leaders capable of navigating life’s challenges with resilience and clarity. It focuses on how individuals regulate their emotions and the significance of the meaning they assign to their past experiences.

Therefore emotional regulation and experiences are important components in the Wisdom Compass, a new self development tool based on neuroscientific research and indigenous wisdom.

The Impact of Past Experiences

Our past experiences hold significant power over our present emotions and shape our future. Certain experiences can evoke warm feelings and bring smiles to our faces, while others can trigger negative emotions such as anger, depression, anxiety, or addiction. Often, these emotions manifest without us consciously understanding their origins.

How we perceive our experiences influences how we feel in the present moment and how we shape our future. Unresolved past experiences can lead to physical pain, negative self-perceptions, and emotional distress. The field of Experiences within the Wisdom Compass encourages individuals to heal from these past experiences by shifting their perceptions and accepting them fully. It focuses on how individuals regulate their emotions and the significance of the meaning they assign to their past experiences.

Understanding How Emotions Work

Recent research by neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett has shed new light on the intricacies of emotions. Emotions are not simply innate responses; instead, they are constructed based on the concepts and interpretations in our brains. Our brains constantly receive signals from our bodies, including information from internal organs, tissues, hormones, and the immune system.

These signals have no inherent meaning on their own. Instead, our brains rely on concepts to interpret both internal and external sensations. This process, known as interoception or our seventh sense, allows us to make sense of the sensory signals and construct emotions.

You can read more on how our emotions work here.

Changing Concepts to Transform Emotions

The Wisdom Compass recognizes that changing our concepts is the key to transforming our emotions. Merely reliving past experiences and dwelling on them can perpetuate the same emotional loops because our brains recognize the familiar sensations and trigger similar emotional responses. To break free from this cycle, we must change our concepts.

The following practices can help in this process:

            • Meditation: Meditation enables individuals to distance themselves from their emotions and gain awareness of their predictions and emotional responses. By putting emotions into perspective, they can become less overwhelming. However, meditation alone does not change the predictions made by the brain, meaning that emotions may continue to arise.

            • Trauma Release Therapy: Trauma Release Therapy provides a targeted approach to address specific traumatic experiences that may have a profound impact on individuals’ emotional well-being. This therapy aims to release the trapped energy and emotions associated with traumatic events, facilitating healing and resilience.

            • Relationship and Emotion Training and Coaching (RETEC): Developed by international trainer and coach Wassili Zafiris, RETEC is a method rooted in the latest neuroscientific knowledge about emotions. This approach emphasizes that emotions control almost everything, and working directly with emotions in coaching and therapy is highly effective. RETEC focuses on creating new neurological networks by utilizing unconscious reminders. This method helps transform deeply ingrained patterns and facilitates lasting change.

By engaging in these practices and understanding the workings of emotions, individuals can regulate their emotions effectively. This enables them to overcome past experiences, shift their perceptions, and embrace a more balanced and wise approach to life. By harnessing the power of emotions, individuals can become wise leaders who navigate the complexities of the world with empathy, compassion, and self-awareness.

Want to learn more about how to regulate your emotions and become a Wise Leader? Contact me.