We often think and believe that our emotions occur as a result of what we experience, and are somewhat out of our control. If something happens that we like, we feel good, we feel happy. If something happens that we don’t like, we feel bad, sad, unhappy.
Of course it is natural for us to believe this when a crisis occurs. Faced with debt, ill health, or sad news about a relative or close friend, our first instinct is to feel bad. Whilst it is not wrong to feel bad, it is entirely human to do so, our problems occur when we hold onto that negative emotion and allow it to dictate further negative thoughts and actions, which can result in negative consequences.
For instance, have you ever been in a negative mood, perhaps because you’ve received some bad news or somebody upset you? Sometime later, maybe even days later, you are still in that heavy, bad mood and you snap at somebody else? The person you snapped at may or may not have any idea why you did that. You make them feel bad. They snap back. Or they may not, but they leave your company feeling bad. You may realise later that your action of ‘snapping’ was unfair and unjustified, and they really didn’t deserve that. Now you feel guilty. You add more heaviness to your mood. You may be able to call them and apologise and make you both feel better. But what if it was somebody you can’t contact? The cashier at the supermarket, or the person who accidentally bumped into you in the street and you bit their head off? What if they went home and took it out on somebody they love? It’s like a virus. See how it spreads?
You don’t even have to snap at somebody to spread the negativity virus. Have you ever spent time in the company of somebody who does nothing but perpetually moan and complain? Have you felt your energy drain from you? I call these ‘energy vampires’. And I’ll be totally honest with you. When I was going through my challenges, I became one!
I became isolated. Few people visited me, and if they did they didn’t stick around for very long. I then began blaming them for not visiting more, for not helping me, for not wanting to be around me. So what did I get? Of course, I got more of that! Truth was, when I look back, I wouldn’t have wanted to be around me either.
So, think of this from a different perspective. How would you feel if you could release the intensity of a negative emotion quicker, and therefore avoid spreading that awful virus? How could we avoid hurting others, and ourselves further, by bouncing back more easily into a more balanced, reasonable frame of mind?
Notice I did not say bounce back into a ‘positive’ frame of mind. In some cases, that may be far too much a stretch. Let’s face it, if you’ve only just found out that somebody close to you has died for example, and somebody says “Come on. Pull yourself together. Let’s go to that new comedy club in town. It’ll be great fun”, chances are that is NOT going to make you feel better. Thoughts of violence may even cross your mind.
But, even in a circumstance such as death of a loved one, it is possible to reach for a gentle, better-feeling thought, such as “they’re out of pain now”, or “they had a good life”, or chat with somebody about the great experiences you shared, and celebrating their life.
The important thing is to avoid getting stuck in that painful emotion, which can become crippling. It serves no purpose. In fact, it does more harm than good. And there’s no rational reason for it.
What does negative emotion do to our body?
Now remember I am not a medical or scientific expert, but I will try and explain this in lay person’s terms as I have come to understand it through my own research and experience of working through it.
Our bodies, perfectly designed by nature, have built-in responders called hormones. We are aware of the ‘fight or flight’ response. This served us well when we lived in caves, and we had to survive being confronted with wild animals on a regular basis. Our adrenaline kicked in and helped us deal with the situation. In some parts of the world this is still relevant, for instance tribes that live in the jungles. In some circumstances in Western society, it is also still relevant. Consider the child who gets run over by a car, and their mother, an average woman of average strength, finds the strength to lift that car by herself, off her child. Or the athlete or adventurer who need to perform in high-intensity situations. That is what adrenaline enables us to do. Cortisol is another hormone produced in times of stress.
In today’s westernised societies, we do not face such extreme dangerous situations on a regular basis, and the ‘fight or flight’ response would be more aptly be described now as the ‘anger or fear’ response, as those emotions more accurately describe our response to challenges. The body response, however, is the same. We release adrenaline and cortisol and other physiological responses occur.
The danger comes when we prolong the release of these hormones. They are only meant to be released for a short period of time. Think of the caveman facing the wild animal. He deals with it. He goes on with his life. The hormones stop releasing. Then he gets back out there the next day, and deals with it. If he kept the fear going, he wouldn’t go back out to face it again, and the human race would not have evolved, or even survived. Can you imagine him saying to Mrs Cave “I’m so scared. I can’t go out there tomorrow”?
By continuing to be angry, worry and stress, we keep these hormones releasing. This is so bad for the body. It weakens us. It damages our immune system. It can cause or contribute to so many bodily conditions, including chronic pain and cancer. Added to this, the body can become dependent and addicted to these chemicals, just as it can with alcohol, nicotine or drugs.
Stress is always caused by some negative emotion being held in the body.
The benefits of bouncing back
So consider the benefits of being able to bounce back to a more positive emotion, more quickly:
* It is good for your health
* It is good for your relationships
* It is good for other people
* You become more productive in your life
* It WILL improve your reality and your life
How do I do it?
The fantastic news is that ANYONE can improve their bouncebackability.
Please see Emotion Devotion – Part 2
In the meantime, you may like to watch this video – The Biology of Belief by Dr Bruce Lipton, who can explain the science bit much better than I can