In this article I will explain how emotions are formed, what impact they have in our lives and how to challenge them. I will also show you techniques that will help you let go of negative emotions and replace them with positive emotions.
‘’What you think, you become’’- Buddha
In order to understand your emotions and be able to change them, it is essential to understand the way your brain functions.
Firstly, your brain is responsible to ensure your survival, not your happiness. Your brain is constantly looking to identify potential threats. Your survival mechanism gives more weight to negative events rather than positive ones.
Secondly, your happiness is influenced more by your attitude than external factors. External events only impact your happiness for a short period, then you revert to your normal level of happiness. This explains why a new gadget or a new car won’t make you happy for a long period.
Thirdly, ego can negatively influence your happiness. Ego is the self-identity you constructed through your life. Ego needs an identity to exist so it identifies through things, people or ideas. In order to make you happy, your ego needs to be fed constantly.
Understanding negative emotions
”Negative emotions like loneliness, envy and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.”- Gretchen Rubin
Excessive attachment to your beliefs can have a negative impact in your life and create suffering.
It is not the event that influences you emotions and thoughts, but your interpretation of the event. The way you interpret you emotions creates suffering, not the emotions themselves.
Emotions have an important role to play in your life; they are there to make you grow. Negative emotions are not there to make you suffer, but to tell you something.
Think of negative emotions the same way you think of physical pain. Your body signals you that something is wrong and you need to make some changes.
When you feel negative emotions, it seems impossible to be able to change them as you identify yourself with them. The trick is to understand that your emotions come and go.
The way you feel can influence all aspects of your life. The more negative you feel, the more you attract other negative thoughts.
Mental suffering is a creation of our interpretation of our emotions. We become obsessed with our own problems and we let them take over our life.
We dwell in the past we cannot change and worry about a future we cannot predict. We run in circles to fight a problem that mostly exists in our mind, but we are not doing anything to solve it.
A problem only exists when you label a situation as a problem and focus on it.
How to challenge negative emotions
”You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are!”- William James
There are different things that impact your emotions. By practicing these techniques, you can improve the way you feel:
- Improve your sleep. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your emotions. People that sleep less than 6 hours per night are more prone to suffer from depression and anxiety and less able to enjoy positive experiences.
- Change your body language and your face expression. By adopting a confident body-posture and smiling you can change the course of your emotions considerably. ‘’Fake it until you make it’’ or ‘’Act depressed and the feeling will follow’’. The choice is yours.
- Exercise. Exercise has both short-term and long-term effects on your body and mind. Short-term, you can benefit from a boost in mood and self-confidence, whilst long-term, exercise improves your mental health considerably.
- Change your thoughts. Focus on what you want; don’t focus on what you don’t. Your thoughts create your reality. Read more about how to change your thoughts here.
- Meditate. Meditation can help you understand your thoughts and feelings by distancing yourself from them. Be an observer of your own thoughts and feelings.
- Visualize. Your subconscious mind cannot distinguish reality from imaginary. By visualizing positive experiences and emotions, you condition your mind to produce more similar emotions.
- Use words that express self- confidence. Use words that express certainty and self-confidence to change the way you feel about yourself. Avoid using words like ‘if, maybe, hope, wish, should, could’ and replace them with ‘I will, certainly, when, definitely, sure’.
- Use positive affirmation. Use positive affirmation until your mind accepts them as true. Talk and feel like you are already what you want to become. Use present tense to express these affirmations.
- Change your environment. The people you interact with, the movies you watch, the books you read, the place you live can have a positive or negative impact on your life. Look around and identify anything that negatively influences your mood.
How emotions are formed
‘’A man is but the product of his thoughts’’- Mahatma Gandhi
Emotions are the result of thoughts. You interpret events based on your personal experiences. You then identify yourself with the thoughts that arose. When you identify with your thoughts and repeat them, you generate an emotion.
The more you identify yourself with negative thoughts, the more they amplify and take control of your mind.
Negative emotions cannot exist without your interpretation of the event. Moreover, without identifying with the emotions, they will fade away.
Negative strong emotions require a process of repetition in order to persist. By repeating the negative thoughts that you have identified yourself with, you will condition your mind to experience the emotions associated with these thoughts.
”The greatest enemies of success and happiness are negative emotions of all kinds”. – Brian Tracy
The way you interpret events is strongly linked with the assumptions you hold about life. When things are different from how you expect them to be or assume they should be, you think negatively about them.
By looking deeply into your interpretation of events, you will understand why you generated the negative emotions and what you can change to avoid experiencing these emotions.
How to let go of negative emotions
”The emotions you once thought of as negative are merely a call to action. In fact, instead of calling them negative emotions… let’s call them Action Signals.”- Tony Robbins
First step is to accept your negative emotions. By repressing your emotions, you are actually allowing them to become part of your subconscious mind and subsequently, your identity.
Only when you become aware and accept your emotions, you can let go of them.
In order to let go of emotions you need to learn how to detach yourself from those emotions, to look at your emotion as you were an observer. Think as if you would have to describe them to someone else. This is best achieved with meditation techniques.
Moreover, don’t identify yourself with the emotions. Your are not your emotions, therefore replace saying ‘I am’ with ‘I feel’.
How to experience positive emotions
‘’We become what we think about all day long’’- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thoughts, emotions and actions are linked together. Your thoughts generate your emotions, which influence your actions.
When positive thoughts are fuelled by positive emotions, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
The best way to experience positive emotions is to express gratitude. Think of everything you are grateful for in your life.
Your subconscious cannot differentiate between reality and imaginary. In order to stimulate your brain to form more positive thoughts, you have to think of what you want as if you already have it.
I hope this article helped you better understand emotions, how they can negatively impact your life and what to do in order to challenge them. By applying the techniques shown in this article you will be able to let go of negative emotions and experience positive ones.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to answer them.
All the best,
(Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists)
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