- a short video on how to keep moving forward in spite of negative emotions
We often become slaves of our strongest emotions. Be it extremely positive or negative, emotions have the potential side effect of throwing us off the wagon and make us ditch even the best action plan we ever designed for ourselves – who never skipped a week’s workout to be with ‘bae’, right? In this blog post I will, nonetheless, focus on the power of negative emotions and how to manage their effect on our behaviour.
Emotions are one of the most precious human gifts. Many of us surely already thought of how great would it be to go through life without feeling a thing, but emotions are part of our human programming for good reasons. They function as barometers and thus alert us for when there is something we need to temper in our life. If you are sad, then sadness is a red flag which is inviting you to stop and reflect about how much balance there is in your life.
The hardest part is, however, to first become aware of these negative emotions and notice their effect on our behaviour. If we are running on automatic pilot, it might take us a while to realise that we are functioning as hostages of our emotional state and that we are compromising our action plan. The ability to become more aware of our emotions and their connection with our behaviour can be strengthened by engaging ourselves in contemplative practises such as meditation, journalling, and yoga.
After noticing what is going on, we then need to know how to manage the impact of our emotional state. As a species, human beings tend to indulge in negative emotions quite easily so the default reaction is to continuously move downwards in the emotional spiral (you will find a diagram of an emotional spiral in the video) and that is also why it is so difficult sometimes to move us back to a more balanced emotional state.
The approach I offer my clients and that I make myself follow is to be aware of these negative emotions, sit and embrace them as they are without wanting to actively make them disappear. If we try to suppress or get rid of negative emotions, what usually happens is that they will be triggered once again later in our life and the experienced emotional pain will be much more intense, much more difficult to deal with and therefore heal. The second step after becoming aware of our emotional state, and how it affects our action plan, is hence to embrace and accept whatever we are feeling, no matter how uncomfortable that might be.
The third step is to run a parallel program in our mind. This means we will feel and sit down with our negative emotions but we will also move our attention to something we know to be a “positive emotion” generator. For me this has been about placing my focus on my fitness journey and goals. For other people, this might be engaging in a volunteering project or a creative activity. It doesn’t really matter what you choose, what matters is that you will be experiencing positive emotions. Those positive emotions will start to build up and slowly polish the negative emotions that took you out of your path in the first place.