MANAGING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
Let us begin by understanding what emotions are, what they are do to our body and how to manage them better without getting overwhelmed.
A more useful is derived from the word in E-motion where “E” stands for energy and “motion” for movement, hence energy in motion, energy that moves precisely.
This energy that is produced by our organism has many functions, it is manifested through bodily sensations perceived in the body such as pressure, temperature, extension, consistency. Typically emotions are activated by thoughts, convictions, innate reactions and stimulus-response conditioning.
The emotions determine what we feel, what we think or say. Every emotional state stimulates a series of behaviours depending on how we feel precisely.
In the case of very intense emotional reactions such as anger and fear the ability to think so lucid is heavily compromised. As well as when we are prey of anxiety we cannot clearly see what is happening.
Some extreme behaviour with serious consequences, arise from states of intense emotion and we very often then see on television the results of these emotions, such as for example those exasperated by the noise of the neighbour and while in a discussion stabs the latter, or other fatal accidents arising from those that seem to be futile reasons.
The emotions occur also in our organism since they have a physiological component also known as the famous butterflies in the stomach, the sensation of having a node to the throat or something that compresses the chest. All these modifications of the body heat, heartbeats, sweating etc. are experienced in our body and even in a very serious manner sometimes and in this sense a research shows us precisely how much emotions can effect.
A group of Finnish researchers of the University of Tampere and the Aalto University, were able to achieve a somato-sensory map of the emotions. The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Researchers have involved 700 individuals from Sweden, Finland and Taiwan and induced them into different emotional states.
The researchers handed over to the participants images of the human body and asked them to paint (using different colours) the parts of the body that they felt “turning on” or “off” in response to the emotion caused. It came out that for example that anxiety activates sensations in the chest, anger is felt on the chest, fists and face, love is felt as heat from the knees up and happiness lights us up completely as if we were a human torch.
Obviously these emotions also cause related physical issues so much that a research suggests that certain experiences are one of the major risk factors for causes of illness, death and poor quality of life.
Now that we know a little bit more, we should understand how to manage our emotions in particular how to manage negative emotions.
MANAGING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
To understand how to manage a negative emotion we must first learn how not to make it expand, how not to make the emotion prevail and to do this we must learn the 3 things to avoid:
1) Avoiding the negative emotion.
Generally when we feel an unpleasant emotion it is natural to avoid the situation or the person/s that evokes it. Doing this not only will tend to limit ones life but in time will result in an increase of the strength and of the intensity of the avoided emotional state.
Usually the first thing that we try to do is to deny the emotional experience by resisting it. This approach is extremely counterproductive because the resistance exerts a force equal to or greater than that of the emotion resisted.
3) Identifying yourself with it.
Another common mistake is to identify ourselves with the emotion that we are experiencing, believing to be that emotion, but there is a difference in saying “I am angry/browbeaten” and saying “in this moment I am feeling anger/fear.”
An emotion is indeed something that you feel, not something that is. Making this distinction allows us to assume a more detached and objective perspective in respect of the active emotion.
MANAGING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
There are certain techniques that help us with our emotions and many of these have been given to us the famous inventor of NLP Richard Bandler, who precisely in this case suggests the exercise of the turning wheel or better the reversal of the emotion. Lets see how:
- Locates the emotion in your body.
Think of a situation that evokes in you a negative emotion and try to locate it in the part of your body where you feel this emotion. Being energy in motion the sensations tend to start at a point and move towards another. Note then the movement and direction through which the feeling moves.
For example, you could feel the emotion originate in the chest and descend toward the navel or start in your forehead and move down towards the arms.
- Try to pull out the emotion.
At this point if along its direction the emotion moves clockwise or counterclockwise by visualising red arrows pointing in the direction of rotation.
Now using your imagination take it out from your body and visualise it rotate in front of you.
- Assign a colour and invert the rotation
In your mind think of a colour that is relaxing for you and by reversing the direction of rotation of the emotion assign to the arrows that indicate the direction of the rotation this new colour.
- Now put it back inside and rotate in the opposite direction.
Return the feeling inside your body causing it to rotate in the opposite direction. While continuing to rotate the feeling even faster in the opposite direction notice how the new relaxing sensation spreads inside your body.
Think again about the initial situation keeping within you the rotation and the colour of the new feeling, at this point breathing deeply you will notice how the negative emotion fades and almost disappears.
Of course we must learn to practice with constancy and breathe deeply until this exercise becomes almost automatic when needed.
A technique for learning how to manage better especially anxiety, fear and stress is MINDFULLNESS
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