Instead, what we experience is a pit in the stomach, a racing heart and mind, or a sense of hopelessness that things will get better.
It’s true that negative emotions seem instantaneous. They’re automatic and natural consequences of events, right?
Wrong! That’s just not the case!
Although they can wash over us like a tidal wave, leaving us helplessly drowning in sorrow, fear, or numbness – there is a choice you can make between stressful events and negative feelings.
Except for those real life fight or flight situations, where your safety or life is in actual danger, or in some post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, there is a thought process sandwiched in the middle. It comes before the overwhelming feelings, and can even be the cause of them!
1. Noticing that elusive thought pattern can change your life as you know it!
When you’re feeling angry, identify the situation or event which prompted it. Then, the belief system attached to that event.
Since events can’t directly cause our feelings, what did you tell yourself about the event that negatively impacted you?
2. Question it.
How well is that belief or thought pattern serving you? Is it benefiting you? Is it hurting you? Is it energizing you? Or is it inhibiting and alienating you?
Embrace flexibility, openness, and non-judgement. Be present now, in the only moment in time you can affect. Focus on letting go of ideas that no longer serve you. Here, you will find the wiggle room to grow, love, and live.
When I change my thought from, “He shouldn’t have done that!” to “It would be better if he did it a different way.” Or, “I can’t believe that happened, it’s horrible!” to “It’s not what I wanted but I’ll figure this out.” It reduces my emotional reaction significantly.
It reduces my physiological response, too – from a state of alarm including increased heart rate, tightening muscles, and lightheadedness to a generalized feeling of disappointment. It’s much easier to cope with. It keeps my body and mind healthy, and strengthens relationships through more flexibility and less rigidity, more openness and less judgment.
4. And to boot – on the flip side of the emotional spectrum, when something rockin’ happens to you and you think, “It doesn’t really count ‘cuz I just got lucky.”, change it to “Whoa! I’m so psyched about that. How can I do it again?”. Don’t rob yourself of positive experiences. Revel in them!
So what beliefs are you holding onto that are harming you? What would life be like without them? Open the door of possibilities and newness. Befriend your errors of judgement and let them go. Or reframe them into productive and supportive beliefs.
Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Artur84, Master isolated images, & imagerymajestic.