Regulating Emergency Emotions


Without the emergency emotions of anxiety, anger and sadness, mankind would not have survived the profound challenges we’ve faced throughout our vast history on this planet. However, as we have become civilized these powerful emotions have become less important to our survival. Unless adequately regulated, emergency emotions are often a source of suffering.

Right or wrong, your mind automatically attaches emotional meaning to events. If the level of emotions “fit” the situation, a proportionate response will likely follow and things will run smoothly. However, over or under responses usually lead to some form of negative impact on overall levels of happiness and relationships with others.

For example, if I happen to yawn during a conversation with you, you will react according to your interpretation. A,“he is bored with me” interpretation may cause anxiety, anger or sadness. If anxious or sad you may stop talking and search for a quick exit. If angry, you might criticize my poor manners and/or wait to point out a flaw of mine. In reality, I may have stayed up too late last night and am tired.

Use the following format to raise your awareness of your emergency emotions. Do they “fit” the situation or do you need to keep them in check?

Anxiety signals danger. Anger signals trespass. Sadness signals loss.


Anxiety – What event are you reacting to?

  • Rate how much real danger you are in from 1 to 10?____

  • Is your response proportionate to the danger? _____

  • If exaggerated, use the following procedure:

  • Repeat the following in a stern but not harsh inner voice:

"I will not faint. I will not die. I will not lose my mind.
I can cope with these feelings and other symptoms."


"I need to trigger the Calming Response."

The Calming Response:
Gently inhale through your nose, fill your lower lungs and push your tummy out. As you breathe out calmly say in your mind,

“Relax, I can handle this.” Repeat this 10 times until your breathing is under control. (Feeling a bit faint is not abnormal when you do this.)

Focus your complete attention on the next task you need to accomplish. Practice this daily before you are anxious or have a panic attack. This way you will have the courage to face that which is upsetting you without having to escape and thus perpetuating the cycle of anxietyescapereliefanxiety and so on.

Anger – What event are you reacting to?

  • Rate how serious the trespass/offense is against you from 1 to 10?____

  • Is your response proportionate to the trespass? ____

    If exaggerated, dispute the thoughts sustaining your feelings of anger.

    For example state the truth in a firm inner voice. “It’s not the end of the world.” “I’m mature enough to forgive them.” “They probably didn’t really wish to upset me.”

    Use the Calming Response as above and then focus your complete attention on the next task you need to accomplish.

    Does the fellow in this animated short film remind you of anyone?
    The Cat Came Back by Cordell Barker

Sadness – What event are you reacting to?

  • How grave is the loss on a scale from 1 to 10? _______

  • Is your response proportionate to the loss? _____

  • If exaggerated, use the following procedure:

  • Is the loss going to last forever? ______(yes or no)

  • Is the loss going to ruin everything? _____

  • Is the loss my entire fault? _____

If not, dispute exaggerated negative beliefs with, “I can ________ to recover my loss.” “I’ll put together a plan to recuperate.”

Act daily on this plan and note your efforts in some fashion.

To remain motivated, compliment yourself when you’ve acted to further your personal interests and moved closer to your dreams. 



There's nothing wrong with anger provided you use it constructively. Wayne Dyer


Printable Emergency
Emotions Forms:      

1) Anger & Sadness
2) Anxiety