An ex-colleague came to me for some advice. She felt that she was always irritated with people around her, she was getting jealous of those in her immediate circle within the organization, who’d climbed the ladder and she felt she hadn’t. She said, she didn’t feel good about herself and constantly felt jealous and angry. She told me, “Priyanka I am stuck in my own negativity. I should’ve been further ahead by now.” She’d get so stuck with her own negative emotion that it even affected her work and added to her stress.
I heard her out completely. Then, instead of simply giving her advice I shared a story. Recently, a family member really really close to me commented on my business and lifestyle. He said that I’m constantly in the kitchen and had no other work in life. I was wasting my intellect and time. At that time, I almost got offended [because not only do I run my own independent consultancy, I also do coaching, I’m doing my doctorate, and also taking care of my family & health (for which I, of course, need to be in my healthy kitchen and in the gym. My rituals are pretty much non-negotiable)]. After being angry for the whole day, I realized my negative emotion isn’t taking me anywhere. I also realized it is a reflection of my own insecurities and not his. It was only affecting me. After being in that angry state for a few hours, I turned my anger into a consumable fuel for creativity. IN that moment I felt I had to prove a few things to myself and I got crackalacking on my work. I jumped into it and got a rush of endorphins in my brains. Those negative emotions then fueled me into creating something constructive, rather than just brooding over life and people.
Well, we are all human beings, so, we have feelings of all kinds, some positive and some not so much. There are times when we are drawn into our negative emotions, such as hate, jealousy, anger, sadness, and despair to name a few. No one is free from this. Even HH Dalai Lama, whom I truly admire in the way he controls his emotions. He practices positive mindful thinking, every day. He is not free from the negative emotions but tries to look beyond it. While I had a long conversation with my friend, here are 6 key doable strategies that came from it, which truly helped her:
- Recognize your personality triggers: An important step to ensure that we turn our negatives into positive is through recognition of our triggers. We all have emotional triggers. For some, these triggers are anger related issues, for some food related, for some the people around, and for some communications based and more. Check for yourself, who or what triggers negative emotions in you and how. Based on your own analysis, see how can you work on them. For instance, for a long time, my personality trigger was the tone in which people spoke to me (not what they said). When I realized it, I started disassociating myself from the way in which others spoke to me and ensured that I conduct myself in a manner that demanded a certain way to speak.
- Strengthen your mind through constant mindful compassion: Our negative emotions get the worst out of us, right? We get so consumed by these emotions that we CANNOT think straight. Only when we transition ourselves to a happier, positive and calmer state of mind, (scientifically, when we are out of our fight or flight situation), we mindfully and compassionately turn things around in our favor. So in situations where we feel hurt, sad, jealous or even hatred, we can turn those around into compassionate and mindful thoughts into being a force for good.
- Communicate your expectations and even the negatives: This is the least we can do to bring out positive outcomes. To continue my story, when I was upset, I was extremely furious. However, after an hour or so, I made peace with myself and had a mindful and compassionate conversation with the person. I told him what affected me and why. He absolutely understood. Since then, we’ve never had a similar experience, ever again. At that time, it was important to honestly, firmly, yet politely, state my thoughts and communicate my expectations, to avoid any negative emotions to eat me up. Communicating the truest thoughts in the right way is key to turning negative emotions into something positive.
- Fuel your negative emotions into meaningful action: Oh my Goodness! This is GOLD. Emotions aren’t bad as such, however, the consequent action resulting from our emotions means everything. I cannot emphasize harder on the action bit. It takes conscious practice to turn your situations into constructive action. All it takes from you is to identify what would you need to do, in that moment, to step aside to allow your better self to simply shine. Evaluate in what ways will you be able to take the steps, which will work for YOU, as an individual. For instance, I use my anger as a fuel for creativity. If I get jealous, I say so to the other person, laugh about it, make peace and get on to work (my own self-improvement).
- Use emotional journaling for PERSONAL development: It is a small ritual but a significant one. When you start writing your emotions and triggers, you realize half the things didn’t even require the reaction you gave. When I get upset with someone or something, of course, I communicate my thoughts to get it out of my system, but I also journal my emotions and my triggers to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This process ensures that I am no longer struggling in the same space and striving for betterment.
- Acknowledge that it is OK to feel what you feel: Yes, I said it… but… [and there is a big BUT here] acknowledge what you feel but don’t make others responsible for your feelings, cause that ain’t right. For instance, when I consciously chose to look beyond the anger, I realized a lot of the times, that negative emotions are often a reflection of our own situations. Yes, people’s statements and actions affect us, but to what extent are we willing to allow another person to affect us, is up to us. Eventually, we are entitled to feel what we want to feel and that is OK. However, we cannot make another person feel responsible for it.
I want to hear from you: How do you deal with emotional triggers? Do you turn your negatives into something positive? Put it down in the comments below. I look forward to reading them.
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