Photo of black and white woman being turned into smiling woman in color

Financial De-Stress – Week 3: How to Tame That Emotion

In 2021, we sent out this collection of de-stressing exercises to a group of clients over the span of 10 weeks in hopes that they might help alleviate the anxiety of debt as our clients moved through their programs. We received such amazing feedback that we wanted to make sure the rest of our clients had access to these 10 meditation, mindfulness, and awareness exercises as well! We’ll be releasing a new one each Monday morning, so check in at the start of each week for a brand new exercise.


This two-step exercise will help you recognize and combat events that trigger your emotional hijack response. An emotional hijack is when your emotions are so strong, they shut down much of your ability to think clearly and begin planning.

When stressed, many situations can trigger an emotional hijack, such as when a bill arrives or a collector calls. Those are examples of situations where your response system needs to correct itself and rescue your emotions through two simple steps:

Step 1: Name It

Our emotions can hijack us when we don’t even recognize what emotion we are feeling. That’s why Step 1 of your Emotional Rescue is to be able to name your emotion.

Each of those situations that are causing your financial stress starts with an emotion. When a bill arrives that you can’t pay, you may feel fear. If you pick up the phone and hear a collector on the other line, you may feel frustration or sadness.

When you don’t identify the emotions connected to these situations, you have no defense against an emotional hijack. But when you can calm down, breathe easy, and name that feeling, you start to assert control over that situation and begin to regain control over your life.

Step 2: Tame It

The key to diffusing your emotions through naming them leverages the understanding of that emotion you are feeling and helps you gain some distance from it. When a rude or unempathetic collector calls, instead of letting that experience ruin the rest of your day, name it, then you can tame it.

“That call made me so angry. It’s anger I am feeling. Nothing but anger.”

Notice how you feel while repeatedly naming the emotion you are feeling. The goal is to begin to feel a little distance from the emotion and slow down that emotional hijack.

Sometimes those harmful emotions may sweep over you, and that familiar stress will seem to build up again. Just keep naming them. Every cause of stress will have a feeling that you can name and then tame.

PRO TIP:
Remember your first exercise and “take a deep breath.”

The goal of your Emotional Rescue is not to deny your emotions. Instead, you are learning to identify and manage them. We need our emotions to embrace life fully. This leads us to a future topic called mindfulness, which is managing your emotions for personal growth.

A preliminary mindfulness technique you can try is to add deep breathing during your “name it and tame it” exercise. Use that ability to relax your body with breathing exercises, which will help you understand the emotion you feel during this moment. Realize the emotion is telling you something important. You can understand what this feeling is, why you feel it, and ultimately, how to exert control over it.


Join Our Client Sessions

If you’re interested in learning more about ways to stay motivated, cope with stress, and receive other support, contact [email protected] and ask to be invited to our “Join the Conversation” sessions. These private virtual sessions are specially designed as a safe space for clients in the Beyond Finance program. You’ll learn about different topics related to dealing with debt, meet other clients in the program, and participate in a Q & A session where you can ask our financial therapists anything you like.