Since our emotions are the result of a complex survival system, they can easily overwhelm us. While we are not born with tools to control our emotions, psychologists have developed mechanisms that we can learn.
One psychologist, Paul Ekman, compares an emotionally healthy person to a Stanislaskian actor, someone who is able to draw on a reservoir of emotional experiences. In the case of the actor, he or she develops a rigorous process of accessing emotions to deliver a convincing performance. On the stage of life we can also use this tool to access our database of emotions and discover what triggers them.
If we are able to exercise this kind of mindfulness, Ekman argues, we can delay our actions that would otherwise spring directly from our impulses. We are therefore learning to control our emotions.