Our feelings are neither bad nor good; but if there was ever a time to remember this, it is now!
The reason is that they can strongly influence the way we think and behave and feel about ourselves.
So here are some ways we can understand them, and get them to work for us, not against us.
Anger: It can lead us to do things we later regret.
Please don’t get me wrong. A lot of good things stem from angry feelings; the Civil Rights Movement, for example, wouldn't have happened if no one was angered by racism. But angry feelings can also lead to harsh words and rash decisions.
What to do with anger: We can learn how to recognize anger’s warning signs, and take steps to calm down, before our anger becomes something we later regret. Here are Five Guidelines for stopping anger from hijacking us.
Anxiety: We can waste a lot of our time worrying.
While the Pandemic, the anger in our country, and the economy can cause us to feel anxious, worrying about events beyond our control does not help us. Anxious feelings can lead to a lot of worrisome thoughts, catastrophic predictions, and pointless "what if..." questions. In fact, Nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. grapples with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives
What to do with anxiety: Rather than pace the floors, we can turn unproductive worry into active problem-solving. We can also commit to improving the situation and taking steps to prevent disaster, instead of idly worrying that something bad could happen. Here is one of many articles from Psychology Today on coping with anxiety.
Frustration: It makes us want to give up.
Feelings of frustration can lead to thoughts like, "I can't do this," and "This is too hard." Unfortunately, our brain believes everything we tell it, so its job it to make sure we can’t! This is the reason that frustration can fuel more frustration, which ultimately causes us to put in less effort and give up too quickly.
What to do with frustration: Recognize how frustration is influencing your performance. When you're struggling to complete a difficult task, take frequent breaks and develop a helpful inner monologue that encourages your efforts. Here is an excellent article by Dr. Alex Lickerman, author of The Undefeated Mind.
Sadness Can Cause Withdrawal
Sadness can cause isolation and withdrawal usually makes it worse. Few people are cheered up by sitting on the couch by themselves.
However, we can choose to engage with others! (Yes, dear reader, it is a choice we can make.) This is true even when we don't necessarily feel like it. There's a good chance that being around people can help provide distraction, comfort, or perhaps even comic relief. Here are some ways to deal with sadness.
Fear holds us back.
Fear is uncomfortable, and all of us go to great lengths to avoid it. Yet, avoiding anything that causes fear can hold us back from reaching what we want in our lives.
Whether the fear of rejection prevents you from applying for a new job, or the fear of failure stops you from starting that new business venture, be willing to face your fears. With practice, you'll gain confidence in your ability to do the things that scare you. Here are some ways to help us face our fears.
Excitement can cause you to overlook risk.
Excitement can also cause problems. It can cause us to underestimate risk and overestimate the chances of success.
Whether you're tempted to take out a mortgage beyond your budget, or you're planning to quit your job to start a business without a clear plan, be aware that feel-good emotions can greatly influence your decisions. Take time to evaluate the pros and the cons of decisions so your excitement doesn't lead you astray.
And remember this! Paying attention to our emotional triggers helps us avoid many problems in the first place. The fact that we can alter our choices and thoughts and reactions builds our confidence in our ability to cope. With practice, we can turn negatives into positives, and, each time, gain emotional strength.
And if there was ever a time when this is needed more, it is now!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.