By Aiyana Ma’at
Are you emotional? Are you a pessimist? Are you a downer? Better yet do you feel negative, upset, or down more often than you’d like to admit? I’d be lying If I didn’t say that I am absolutely 100% an emotional person. It serves me well in some ways and in other ways…not so much. My problem used to be (and still is sometimes) that I would let whatever I was feeling become bigger than life and take up all the space in my head. Whatever I was feeling would be magnified so much in my heart and mind that there was not room for much else.
And when I let my thoughts run wild and get out of control my emotions would soon follow which was then followed by irritability, perpetual frustration, and plain ol’ negativity. What I’ve learned over time is that negative feelings will not just go away on their own. I won’t start to think and feel more rationally just because. No, rather If I want to feel better I have to be intentional about shifting myself into the emotional space that is best for me and my family.
Just the other day I had to do it. I’ve got a lot on my plate and sometimes it feels as If I’m about to drop (or throw) the damn plate.
Some of you may know that my son is in the hospital right now. He started out in the ICU and is now on the regular floor (thank God!) and that was hella stressful. My husband and I have been tag teaming between being at the hospital and taking care of our other children. Let’s just say having family dinners to the sound of hospital machines beeping, obsessively watching my son’s oxygen levels, and telling my 3 other children to use their inside voice 50 million times while my husband and I discuss family business matters, new projects and partnerships on the table, and who needs to follow up with who….is not exactly a recipe for calm. Meanwhile, life doesn’t slow down. Bills still need to be paid. Our clients still have to be contacted/rescheduled. Contracts still have to be signed. Homework still has to be done and my son’s birthday is on this coming Thursday! Lawd! 🙂
So, my point is that I started feeling overwhelmed and I felt those negative emotions creeping in and before I let them take hold I went and sat by the water not far from my house, wrote in my journal for a little while, and read some more of an awesome book I’m reading right now by Wayne Dyer titled Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, and literally felt myself shifting back into the positive emotional space where purposeful possibility lives. Had I not taken the time to do that—I would be one pretty mean 5 letter word right about now. Negativity just attracts more of the same. And, 9 times out of 10 it all starts within us–in our minds and we then project our mental state out into the world and perceive/get more–you guessed it–negativity coming at us. But, it’s US!!! When we let negative emotions get the best of us it impacts more that just us. Our husbands, wives, children, friends, and co-workers wonder “What is going on??”
And, that is precisely the question. WHAT IS GOING ON? Take a minute to get some more insight around ideas that cause negative emotions and habits that make negative emotions worse excerpted from writer & editor, Ben Rubenstein’s, piece on negative emotions.
Ideas You Need To Change that Cause Negative Emotions
1. Change your perspective.
If you want to experience fewer negative emotions to begin with, change the way you see the world. If you learn how to be optimistic and laid back, you’ll find that negative emotions make fewer appearances to be reckoned with.
2 Eliminate many of the underlying core beliefs which give rise to your disturbing thoughts and negative emotions.
There are many irrational ideas that repeatedly upset us. They are all false, but many of us are inclined to at least some of them part of the time. You can get rid of these ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out…
3. “I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile.”
Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you’re a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
4. “I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me.”
Sometimes you just can’t help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can’t make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
5. “When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people.”
Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
6. “It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected.”
Some people have such a short fuse, that they are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
7. “Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change.”
Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance. You can choose whether to see yourself as an effect of your circumstances, or a cause.
8. “If something is dangerous or scary, I have to worry about it.”
Many people believe that “the work of worrying” will help to make problems go away. “Okay, that’s over. Now, what’s the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?”
9. “It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them.”
Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as a basis for learning and future growth.
10. “Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future.”
If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time — and sometimes they change dramatically!
11. “It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.”
Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can’t predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
12. “I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes.”
If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as a pathway to further growth.
Ideas & Habits that Make Negative Emotions Worse
1. Learn to avoid the cognitive distortions which make things look worse than they really are. Most of us have heard the expression, “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.” But when you use cognitive distortions, you tend to look at the world through mud-colored glasses! Here are some ideas that you should stop from rolling through your head if you catch yourself thinking them…
2. All-or-nothing thinking.
Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If you aren’t perfect, then you’re a failure. You procastinate doing stuff because they are not perfect until you have no other choice than doing them.
A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. “I didn’t get a phone call. I’ll never hear from anybody again.”
4. Mental filter.
One single negative thing colors everything else. When you’re depressed, it sometimes feels like you’re “looking at the world through mud-colored glasses.”
5. Disqualifying the positive.
If somebody says something good about you, it doesn’t count. But if somebody says something bad about you, you “knew it all along.”
6. Jumping to conclusions.
You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
7. Mind reading.
You think somebody is disrespecting you and don’t bother to check it out. You just assume that he is.
8. The Fortune Teller Error.
You think that things are going to turn out badly, and convince yourself that this is already a fact.
9. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization.
Imagine that you’re looking at yourself or somebody else through a pair of binoculars. You might think that a mistake you made or somebody else’s achievement are more important than they really are. Now imagine that you’ve turned the binoculars around and you’re looking through them backwards. Something you’ve done might look less important than it really is, and somebody else’s faults might look less important than they really are.
10. Emotional reasoning.
You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
11. Should statements.
You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You “should” do this, you “must” do this, you “ought” to do this, and so on. This doesn’t make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
12. Labeling and mislabeling.
This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When you make a mistake, you give yourself a label, such as, “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
You believe that you were the cause of something bad that happened, when you really didn’t have very much to do with it. And ask a friend to help you realize your emotions or worries so that you can have someone to rely on.
No matter what you choose to do, it’s important to continue acknowledging the emotion. Just because you’re not reacting to an emotion doesn’t mean that emotion doesn’t exist.
Learn to recognize and anticipate “triggers” that set you off.
Some experiences like watching a film, hearing a sound or tasting a food (sensory input) can trigger or bring about good emotions. The more good ones you can recognize, pay attention to and be aware of, the easier it is to put your self in that kind of a recognizable mood. It’s far easier to get out of an angry or sad state of mind when you can know what happy or joyful state of mind is like.
It is important to be aware of & manage your emotions, but suppressing them or denying that they exist is entirely different. Suppressing your emotions can cause physical disorders and more emotional symptoms.
Many emotional problems are so complex that they require the additional professional assistance of a licensed psychologist, counselor, or social worker.
Aiyana Ma’at is the wife of Ayize Ma’at, mom of 4, and co-founder and owner of this website, BlackLoveAndMarriage.com, as well as PurposePusher.com. Aiyana is a Seeker, Motivator, Risk Taker, Explorer, & Overcomer. She is a self-described PurposePusher and does her best to live her life with self-awareness and intention. Some of her official titles include licensed psycho-therapist, certified marriage educator & relationship coach and speaker. She is clear that a part of the call on her life is to help bring insight and awareness to others so that they can “get out of their own way” and create the lives they want to have.