In the last post “Bad experience?”, we talked about how things go wrong for all of us. Sometimes, stuff just happens. But we also talked about how there’s a silver lining in every experience.
Now I want to share something that’s helped me handle my emotions immediately after something goes wrong: specifically, when I’m negatively affected (and can feel my emotions seesawing on the edge of anger, frustration, bitterness, etc.). I try to be 100% positive, so I need a quick solution when I feel those emotions starting to bubble.
My solution lies in the expression: “I need 5 minutes”. Yes, it’s a common expression used everywhere. But it’s more than just time to think and calm down. It’s time for expression, evaluation, and recovery. And it’s the exact expression I use whenever I feel my emotions start to get the best of me.
I actually mentioned it briefly in a previous post on staying positive: “Sometimes, I will literally ‘allow’ myself five minutes to be sad, mad, angry, annoyed – whatever I want to be. For five minutes, I’ll mope, complain, and throw my exact (angry) thoughts into the air. “Yeah, take that!” I’ll say. But then, after five minutes, I go back to me. Positive, happy, and clear-minded me. Don’t bottle up your negative feelings if they will keep you from positive ones. Either change them or get them out and say goodbye to them Only for five minutes, though. No half-hour negativity!”
This has been a major help to me. You may have to modify it, of course, and it doesn’t have to be exactly 5 minutes, but it should be pretty short (otherwise it defeats the purpose!).
The key things to remember are:
1. Expression: It’s probably best to be alone for this. Just for 5 minutes until you’re back to normal and have a clear head. During this time I say exactly how I’m feeling (out loud!). No fluff. No filtering. No sugar-coating. Be careful not to exaggerate though. Be clear and direct but also passionate. Got emotions? Let ‘em out now! If you bottle them up they’re going to hold you back until you finally do!
2. Evaluation: Okay, so what does this all mean? Is it really that bad? Are you adding anything to it in your imagination? Try to be unbiased here. Don’t assume the worst unless you’re certain that it’s true. For example “My brother borrowed my car without asking…he must have no respect for me and think I’m an idiot. He probably has no morals either”. That’s a little extreme. Maybe he just needed a car. Maybe he’s getting you a gift! This is usually where I tell myself, “Okay George, look: it’s in the past now. I can’t change anything that has happened. But I can still change what’s to come. What’s the best way to go from here? Can I move forward more effectively while mad or while at peace?”
3. Recovery: So far we’ve elicited our emotions in a passionate array of words, facial expressions, and flailing of the arms. Phew! Then we had some nice evaluation time: composed, objective, clear-minded thoughts on the situation. Now, we rebuild. How do you want to feel now? Can you go back to how you were feeling before the incident? Take some deep breaths. Remember, it will all be ok. Sure enough, life will go on. If you can’t do anything about it, why worry? Be at peace. But if you can do something about it, why worry? Be at peace and do something!
I know it’s easier said than done (everything in life is). This technique might not assuage every negative feeling that comes upon you but it has proved effective for me. I only use it immediately after I sense these emotions starting to surface. It will probably work for all sorts of emotion management, even for events in the past, but I have not tried it on such examples.
I wish you all the emotional control you can muster up! Good luck!
Photo by bizior