Step 2 of my 5 step process for dealing with negative emotions is to ‘apply what you’ve learnt from doing the exercise before’.
In this blog, I’m going to share my core learning.
The things that I combine and apply to a range of negative emotions to help me release some or all of the emotion, most of the time (which is good enough for me!).
I hope these makes sense and works for you, but if you follow the process, you’ll soon have your own list of emotion-dissolving-learnings.
Here are the 8 core things I've learnt about
Control and responsibility
1. Negative emotions get in the way of logical clear thought. Choose clear thinking instead.
Negative emotions hijack your brain so you can’t think straight.
If I want to figure out what to do, articulate my points clearly and use the full functioning power of my mind, I need to let the emotion go first.
2. Negative emotions don’t prove anything. What do I need to accept, say or do instead?
For example, they don’t prove
how wrong someone else is, or
how much I care.
They may give someone an indication of how I feel, but they may also be misinterpreted.
For example, I can cry (normally associated with sadness) when I’m really angry or happy!
Calmly articulated words and actions are better at proving things or making my position clear, so a more useful strategy is to let the emotion go and figure out what I need to either accept, say or do instead.
Sometimes it’s tempting to hold on to a negative emotion to prove a point to someone who is no longer in our lives (e.g. guilty about something I said to someone in the past), or who we have no way of communicating with (e.g. angry at politicians).
In this case, holding on to the negative emotion to prove something is even more pointless as they don’t even know I’m feeling it, so it’s just me that feels bad. What’s the point of torturing myself needlessly like that?! Better to just let the emotion go and get on with my life.
Control and responsibility
3. I can’t control, and I’m not responsible for, everyone and everything.
Is the thing that’s causing me to feel bad something I can control (do something about) or something I’m responsible for?
No? Then accept that, let the emotion go and shift my focus, time and energy to things I CAN control or that I AM responsible for.
4. How am I also ‘guilty’ or responsible for what’s happened?
Tough question, but it can make me realise that an emotion I’m feeling because of someone else's actions may not be entirely justified, so I have to accept that, and let the emotion go.
What part have I played?
What have I said or done that could have contributed to what’s happened?
Could the same criticism be levelled at me? For example, if I’m getting cross about someone not listening to me, am I sure I’ve really been listening to them?
Based on the ‘Understanding Perspective’ part of this blog.
5. The meaning of communication is the response you get.
Misunderstanding is easy.
Be flexible in how you communicate and make sure you understand.
We all have our own way of communicating and understanding and they don’t always match other peoples, almost like we are talking different languages. Misunderstandings can actually happen very easily as a result.
Whatever I think I’ve communicated (in what I’ve said or done) is irrelevant if it’s obvious from their response, that the person I’m communicating with hasn’t understood me as I intended.
That doesn’t mean they are insensitive or stupid, it just means I haven’t communicated in a way they understand. So I need to try a different way until they do.
I might also misunderstand things, so if something seems weird, I need to check my understanding.
6. Mind reading doesn’t exist
I’m not a mind reader and neither is anyone else
I can’t expect anyone else to think like me or know what I’m thinking, so I may have to tell them.
I can’t assume that what I think someone is thinking is actually what they’re thinking! I may have to persuade them to tell me and I need to make sure I understand what they say.
7. You think you’re right and so do I.
What you think or do may seem weird or wrong to me, but I have to accept it’s valid for you, given your perspective.
Really helpful for relationships.
If I think you’re wrong, I will get curious.
How did you arrive at your opinion, judgement or decision?
Everything I discover will help in finding a way forward. For example, you may know something I don’t.
This also helps when I read the news or hear about something bad
Some people do such awful or stupid things (according to my perspective). This makes me wonder what on earth has happened to them in their lives and what is it that they believe to be true, that makes their version of ‘right’ seem ‘right’ to them when it seems so wrong to me.
If I use this learning, combined with the ‘control and responsibility’ points, I can accept there’s then nothing I can do, and let go of the emotion.