The Behaviors That Influence Your Emotions
Not only are we influenced by our minds, but we are also affected by our actions. Our emotions have become a significant part of our daily life: depending on our reaction to them, we will make certain behavior decisions.
Many will say that our emotions impact our behaviors when, in fact, it might just be the opposite since emotions are neutral. You can have the same emotion and behave in a completely different way once you’ve learned to react more healthily. With the tools in this book, you will learn to behave in a calm manner no matter what situation you face. We don’t expect you to have any emotions, and we expect you to be able to stop reacting to emotions. It is essential to learn to observe emotions and respond in a healthy by expressing the emotion without letting the feeling overwhelm you.
I strongly believe that it is the number one mistake we make, when we associate behavior with an emotion, we give up all our power to feelings. The key is to stop certain behavior when we feel a certain emotion.
Here’s an example: you feel afraid, so your automatic reaction to fear is to hold on to something known. If you are so scared to change job or make a decision, your behavior would be to hold on to what you know, like your job or your lifestyle. On the other hand, if you learn to be aware that you are experiencing the emotion of fear and that you tend to hold on to old ways when you feel afraid to change, you can choose to change your behavior. In this example, you would learn to behave even if the emotion of fear sometimes arises. Your new behavior would be to move forward, afraid.
We tend to have self-destructive behaviors when it comes to experiencing emotions that trigger negative feelings. Be mindful of those behaviors; it could be addictive behaviors, obsessing on something, being stubborn or worse, sinking into a depression.
Some techniques can help you shift your mind when you are about to behave in a way that it isn’t a healthy expression of your emotion. The first one we will learn is a breathing technique.
Since our emotions are very short living, it begs the question of why it hurt so much sometimes and lasts forever. The emotion itself is the physical response, while the feeling is more of a mental reaction.
In some ways, when your mind is activated after you have an emotion, it becomes a feeling. A feeling can be a complex combination sometimes composed of various emotions or manifestations of repressed emotions. For example, if the emotions of anger and fear have not been expressed, they may turn against you in the form of a feeling of anxiety. Since it is a psychological elaboration, a feeling can persist outside of any external stimulus and could last for years if it is nurtured.
In contrast to an emotion, a feeling becomes stronger when it is re-experienced. In the case of a painful feeling, it is therefore important not to reinforce it by expressing it “simply” as one would do for an emotion; otherwise, it will become more lasting.
When you think of an event that triggers a certain emotion, you are no longer living in the present; you are thinking of the past, therefore, recreating the same emotional reaction and feeling it. The feeling becomes what you hold on too. That is why, when we get a sudden burst of anger due to a specific event, we relive anger when we think of the situation.
A mind is a powerful tool that we can use against us or with us. The only way to free oneself from it is to untangle the different emotional and affective knots that make up the feeling, which, first of all, involves acknowledging their existence. We will explore this a bit deeper by exploring how we can learn to embrace our emotions in the next chapter.
Embracing Your Emotions Through Awareness
As you’ve learned in preceding chapters, an emotion is a pure reaction of the body without any connection with the mind. It, therefore, makes no sense to represent it as positive or negative morally. It is a neutral energy.
It is not fair to perceive emotions as pleasant or unpleasant, because it could be damaging to associate an emotion with something negative when you risk repressing it rather than expressing it.
Pure emotion is an adapted and justified response to an external event, like fear in case of danger, anger in the face of disrespect, or joy following a happy event. An emotion is meant to be neutral, even if our social environment does not always allow us to express it freely. Inhibiting an emotion is, therefore, equivalent to censoring an adequate response.
The “natural” way to free oneself from emotion is to express it fully, by welcoming it and by letting this energy discharge pass through us without tightening up on it. But you can only express something that you can recognize.
When the discharge cannot take place for some reason, the emotion is repressed in the body, which remains in tension. Stress that has not been able to evacuate itself properly will crystallize to form increasingly dense aggregates in our energy bodies.
Many of us are told (or were told) that we are not supposed to feel, let alone express our anger, sadness, or fear. We often think that it is negative, or that it is not appropriate to the situation when someone express a particular emotion. Emotions are an automatic warning system that is essential to our survival, in which our bodies tell our brains how to react to what is happening to us.
Our negative emotions tell us that something in the environment is not good for us. In the case of fear, it is telling us that there is something to “run away from.” Preferably something to face in the case of anger because we have been disrespected. And in terms of sadness, it is a loss that it is good to accept and to acknowledge. Joy and positive emotions, on the contrary, are meant to lead us to seek what is the source and what is good for us.
Remove fear, and you become a daredevil by putting yourself in unnecessary danger. Get rid of anger, and you let others abuse you, you walk on your feet without saying anything and without seeing anything. Often, in self-renunciation, that makes you the ideal prey and a victim. Take away the sadness, and the chances are that you feel anxious without knowing why and that your body expresses it through various aches and pains.
To succeed in being aware of our emotions, we will have to be mindful of what can prevent us from being connected to them. There are three techniques that we use more or less consciously so that we don’t have to experience feelings.
Avoidance consists of diverting one’s attention to immediately feel better: smoking a cigarette, drinking a drink, eating chocolate, plunging into social networks, etc. But in the long term, this diversion strategy will inevitably have negative consequences, as it creates bad habits and even addictions. Ask yourself now. Are you avoiding your feelings with a distraction?
When we react to our immediate emotion, we focus on what is outside of us. If we are angry, we shout, slam doors, in short, we engage in an activity that aims to let the pressure go. But often, when we react, the negative emotion of anger will turn into another negative emotion such as embarrassment, guilt, or shame for breaking something or getting carried away. Would you say that you are a reactive person?
When we resist an emotion, we silence it; we bury it deep down inside ourselves. We push it back like a balloon that we hold below the surface of the water by pressing on it. This requires concentration and considerable effort that makes us feel very bad. But, once again, this technique does not work in the long term. Little by little, you become a real pressure cooker that could explode at any moment or just fall apart.
The characteristic of these strategies for not connecting with your emotions is that they have no benefit other than the short-term advantage of escaping an unpleasant feeling. If it’s a question of avoiding anger, it will remain present, latent, and will regularly come back into our minds if not into your body as a physical illness.
But then, how do we embrace our emotions? The solution is straightforward: we must observe the physical change that is taking place in our bodies and let it happen. Particularly simple to do, therefore, but not necessarily easy to understand and apply the first few times.
The exercise to feel one’s emotions, therefore, consists of carrying out a kind of meditation during which one lets the feeling fully move oneself. We tend toward it, without opposing it neither diversion, nor reaction, nor resistance. We breathe, we concentrate, we become an observer of what is happening in our body. We then have to look for where you feel and what changes you feel.
Ask yourself all these questions:
- Where is the emotion located in my body?
- Is it in my heart or my lungs?
- Is it in my heart or my lungs?
- Is it in my belly? And where else?
- Do I feel it in my hands? In my ears?
- Does my emotion come on suddenly, or does it gradually increase in intensity?
- Is the sensation burning or freezing?
- Is it comparable to stabbing pain?
- Do I feel like I’m suffocating?
- What is the color of this emotion? Rather red or rather blue?
- What is its shape? Square? Round like a ball?
- What music goes with this emotion? A shrill violin? A low, deaf double bass?
There is no exhaustive list of questions to ask. The purpose is to get to know the emotion, to experience it, and allow all the time that you need for that exercise. You must enable the space and time to experience it personally.