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4 principles that will help you cope better with difficult emotions

The word emotion dates back to the 16th century, from the Old French "emouvoir", meaning "to move", and the Latin "emovere", meaning "to take out, to remove, to agitate". Emotion thus represents movement, and since its origin has been given the meaning of physical disturbance.


In other words, emotions are simply internal movements of energy that disrupt your neutral physiological state.


Because we haven't learned how to deal with our emotions, we fall into the trap of clinging to them, and they become an integral extension of our identity. As a result, we confuse our emotions with our identity - we allow them to define us.


Emotions are an essential part of who we are (i.e. human beings having an earthly experience), but they are not who we are. They're not there to control our lives, they're there to guide us on our way.


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Principle #1 : There are no "good" or "bad" emotions, only "good" or "bad" reactions


The first thing to understand is that there are no "good" or "bad" emotions. We tend to label emotions such as anger, jealousy or sadness as "bad", and emotions such as happiness, excitement or inspiration as "good".


In reality, both positive and negative emotions are essential to our well-being; we do ourselves a grave injustice by not allowing ourselves to fully experience either end of the spectrum.


Emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are.


Emotions are automatic reactions that manifest themselves in your body when triggered by external stimuli. So you have no control over them. But your real power lies in how you respond to them, i.e. how you behave after you've felt what you've felt.


Take anger. It's perfectly normal to feel angry. It often helps you identify your limits: what you accept and what you don't accept in your relationships and everyday life. When you get angry, it's because someone has crossed the line. Anger is therefore neither good nor bad, but it's the way you react to it and behave when you feel it that can be considered "good" or "bad".


Are you defensive? Do you yell at everyone around you? Does every little thing around you absorb your frustration? Or do you pay attention to this behavior and take the time and space necessary to assimilate what has been said and done?


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Principle #2 : Physiologically, your emotions last no more than 90 seconds


Within 90 seconds of exposure to an external stimulus, the body reacts primitively and automatically: the emotion of fear or anger is released and propelled through the body.


Within 90 seconds, these chemicals are completely eliminated from the body. This means that for 90 seconds, you can watch the process unfold, feel it and then see it disappear. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, etc., you need to examine the thoughts you have that stimulate and re-stimulate this physiological reaction, over and over again.


In this way, you experience a continuous cycle of thoughts > emotions > thoughts > emotions. This cycle culminates in the prolonged emotional state you experience and identify with.


We repeat what we don't resolve, because it's familiar. This is precisely what Carl Jung meant when he wrote:


"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate."


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Principle #3 : You are not your emotions, you are the one experiencing them


The most important thing to do when experiencing difficult emotions is to remember that you are not your emotions, but simply the person experiencing them.


In other words, your emotions don't define you:

  • You're not an angry person, you just feel angry.

  • You're not a sad person, you've just been feeling sad lately

  • You're not jealous, you're just jealous right now

  • You're not a failure, you're just going through a hard time


Likewise,

  • You're not a weak person if you're feeling anxious

  • You're not a coward if you're scared


When we become so absorbed in the world of thought and emotion, we begin to attach our own identity to our experiences. And as we continue to give it energy, we lose ourselves in this new reality we've constructed in our heads. We begin to tell ourselves these lies and believe them.


In psychology, this is called a cognitive distortion, which is an erroneous or unhelpful way of thinking. Cognitive distortions are the way the mind plays tricks on us and convinces us of something that simply isn't true, thus altering our sense of reality. In philosophy, this is what the ancient Toltecs called a "mitote" and what in Sanskrit we call "maya", an illusion.


We start thinking "this is who I am" - I'm a failure, I'm anxious. But that's not the case: you're just another human being having another of many human experiences.


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Principle #4 : Run from your emotions and they will chase you


Don't resist any emotion, because what you resist persists.


You can't run away from fear, anger or guilt. When you run away from your emotions, you give them more power, you inflame them. They will become louder, obscuring your horizon and filling it with fog.


Don't forget that emotions are part of your survival mechanisms, and they will persist if you ignore their importance. So instead of repressing them, validate them. Instead of suppressing them, change the meaning you attribute to them. Don't fear them.


Learn to be curious and non-judgmental about your emotions, because judgment brings fear and fear brings hatred.


Allow yourself to experience your emotions fully. It's by daring to approach your body with wonder rather than worry, that everything will change 💖



four principles to help you cope with difficult emotions

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