Dealing With Negative Emotions

Two weeks ago, I signed up for this talk with a couple of friends at the Serangoon Public Library, forgetting all about the jazz performance on the same afternoon at the library@esplanade.

I wondered if I had made a wrong decision when I saw there were only about a dozen attendees at the talk. When the two facilitators could not play the introductory video, I wished I was enjoying the jazz performance instead.

It was only when the facilitators role played an incident highlighting the destructive emotional cycle that I felt that perhaps I would learn something, like some useful tips on how to deal with negative emotions. For eg, instead of blaming others and justifying our triggered thoughts when a hot button is pressed, we should learn not to take things personally, nor make assumptions, but move away from the situation to avoid further conflicts.

Besides discussing what “thinking” and “emotional” brains and “emotional destructive cycle” mean, the facilitators also shared some signals to show that the body is stressed and strategies to manage negative emotions. These include

  • Body Talk – clenched jaw & gritted teeth, stomach upsets, aches & pain, chest pains & rapid heartbeat, insomnia, nervousness & shaking, ringing in the ear, and cold & sweaty hands & feet;
  • Feelings Talk – easily agitated, frustrated & moody, feeling overwhelmed, like losing control or need to take control, difficulty relaxing & quieten the mind, and feeling lousy, lonely, miserable & depressed;
  • Mind Talk – constant worrying & racing thoughts, forgetfulness, inability to focus and poor judgement;
  • Behaviour Talk – changes in appetite, procrastinating & avoiding responsibilities, increased use of alcohol, drug or cigarettes, and exhibiting more nervous behaviouss such as nail-biting, fidgeting & pacing.

Some ways to stay calm and happy in the long run include:

  • Giving people the benefit of the doubt
  • Looking at yourself for the problem first
  • Be mindful
  • Choose your battles
  • Confront with compassion

In conclusion, Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony (Mihandas Gandhi).


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