Having a grip on your emotions is key to personal growth in life. Sometimes a single spike of a negative emotion can give you a bad day. At times, a going through an emotional roller coaster of can land you with clinical depression or poor mental and physical health.
But before you decide to blame negativity for things gone wrong, you must understand that negative emotions itself have a purpose in our lives. According to psychologist Jonathan M Adler, negative emotions aid our survival. Bad feelings act as vital clues to a health issue, relationship or other important matter needs attention, Adler points out. And because of this survival value of negative thoughts and emotions is the reason why suppressing them is useless. Here is how to identify your emotions and deal with them better.’
Also Read : 4 Lessons From Stoic Philosophy To Stay Happy
1. Enrich your emotional vocabulary
According to Psychologist Paul Ekman people of cultures experience and recognize six basic emotions. They are happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, fear and disgust. However, that doesn’t mean these are the only emotions we experience as humans.
In fact, sadness alone can have many different flavours, such as disappointment, mournfulness, regret, depressed, feeling paralyzed, pessimism, disillusionment. Understanding the exact emotion is the key step in dealing with them. In psychological terms, it is called labelling. So it is important for us to label what is the exact emotion we are going through in its proper flavour.
Next time when you feel anger at someone, try to understand what emotion exactly it is that you are going through. Are you frustrated, annoyed, offended or irritated? Psychologist Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, has a list that will explain each of them properly here.
2. Emotions are physical in origin
According to William James, the founder of American psychology, your emotions are completely governed by your body’s responses. In fact, he points out, that these responses itself are what emotions are. For example, if you are being pursued by a tiger, you will feel panic and fear causing your heart to race, palms to sweat- these are responses of our autonomous nervous system, which we consider as a response of fear.
When next time you feel anger or fear, first try to understand that how that emotion is acting on your body. If you are anger, then focus on your heart beat and ask is it rising? Feel how the anger is triggering physical change. And then making an effort to bring those physical change is the most effective way to control an emotion.
3. Write them down
If the emotion is overwhelming, you can express how you feel in a journal or talk to another person you trust. This will shift your perspective and bring a sense of closure.
In an experiment conducted by James Pennebaker, a distinguished professor at the University of Texas, found out that writing about how you feel had a profound impact on your mood and health in general. Those who regularly wrote about their emotions were happier, less depressed and less anxious. In the months after the writing sessions, they had lower blood pressure, improved immune function, and fewer visits to the doctor. They also ended up having better relationships, improved memory, and more success at work.
Numerous studies have proved that writing or journaling can have a therapeutic experience. An ideal way to do it is to sit down with a paper or computer and write for 20 minutes straight. You shouldn’t be concerned about the grammar or punctuations. Just write. And once you are done, threw the paper out or delete the file.
Read more about how to listen better so that others will open to you here.
4. Emotions are contagious
Like the flu, small pox or even yawning, emotions, especially negative ones are contagious as well. We have written here before about types of people one should cut off from life.
Studies conducted by Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer implies that your emotions are influenced by what’s going on in the people around you and which emotions they’re expressing. Another term for this is “emotional contagion.”
Hence it is important to identify people in around you who generally carry negative emotions. And it is not wrong to cut those people to keep them at bay for your own well-being.
Also Read: How to Beat Winter Blues
(Image Credits: Times of India)