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Self-management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to actively choose what you say and do. On the surface, it may seem that self management is simply a matter of taking a deep breath and keeping yourself in check when emotions come on strong, and while it’s true that self-control in these situations is a sizeable piece of the pie, there’s far more to self management than putting a cork in it when you’re about to blow up. Your eruptions are no different from a volcano—there is all sorts of rumbling happening beneath the surface before the lava starts flowing.

Unlike a volcano, there are subtle things you can do each and every day to influence what is happening beneath the surface. You just need to learn how to pick up on the rumbling and respond to it. Self-management builds upon a foundational skill—self-awareness. Ample self-awareness is necessary for effective self-management because you can only choose how to respond to an emotion actively when you’re aware of it. Since we’re hard-wired to experience emotions before we can respond to them, it’s the one-two punch of reading emotions effectively and then reacting to them that sets the best self-managers apart. A high level of self-management ensures you aren’t getting in your own way and doing things that limit your success. It also ensures you aren’t frustrating other people to the point that they resent or dislike you. When you understand your own emotions and can respond the way you choose to them, you have the power to take control of difficult situations, react nimbly to change, and take the initiative needed to achieve your goals.

When you develop the ability to size yourself up quickly and grab the reins before you head in the wrong direction, it keeps you flexible and allows you to choose positively and productively how to react to different situations. When you don’t stop to think about your feelings—including how they are influencing your behavior now, and will continue to do so in the future—you set yourself up to be a frequent victim of emotional hijackings. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your emotions will control you, and you’ll move through your day reacting to your feelings with little choice in what you say and do. 

The remainder of this chapter presents 17 specific strategies—things you can start doing today—that will help you manage your emotions to your benefit.Each simple strategy is targeted to an important element of the self-management skill. This carefully crafted set has been honed through many years of testing with people just like you, and are proven methods for increasing your self management skill.

As you master each of the strategies and incorporate them into your daily routine, you will develop an increased capacity to respond effectively to your emotions. Of course no matter how skilled you become in managing your emotions there are always going to be situations that push your buttons. Your life won’t morph into a fairy tale devoid of obstacles, but you will equip yourself with everything you need to take the wheel and drive.


1. Breathe Right

2. Create an Emotion vs. Reason List

3. Make Your Goals Public

4. Count to Ten

5. Sleep On It

6. Talk To a Skilled Self-Manager

7. Smile and Laugh More

8. Set Aside Some Time in Your Day for Problem Solving

9. Take Control of Your Self-Talk

10. Visualize Yourself Succeeding

11. Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene

12. Focus Your Attention on Your Freedoms Rather than Your Limitations

13. Stay Synchronized

14. Speak to Someone Who is Not Emotionally Invested in Your Problem

15. Learn a Valuable Lesson from Everyone You Encounter

16. Put a Mental Recharge into Your Schedule 17. Accept That Change is Just around the Corner

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