POWERFUL EMOTIONS--UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS Familiarity with emotions and triggers helps avoid costly mistakes BY : Troy Murphy | September 2015
Understanding the pitfalls of thinking is a powerful tool for achieving improved well-being. Giving thoughts too much power creates emotionally vulnerable to the unpredictableness of spontaneous thought. Thoughts aren’t material, they are the product of the brain, pulling memories from the past, solving problems—whether legitimate or not—in the future, and giving meaning to the meaningless. We must think. It’s our golden heritage. But unsubstantiated thoughts drown experience with fluff, create heartache, stir anxiety, and motivate fruitless endeavors. We must scrupulously examine these little mind demons for reasonableness, dismiss some, follow-up on others, and act on a few.
Unbiased observation of thought proves difficult for most; but separation allows for greater objectivity. When thoughts lose power we gain peace. Unbiased observation is not possible or practical, nor should it be the ultimate goal; but practicing separation by skeptically examining personal thoughts for accuracy, adds clarity to the self through deepening insights. From personal observation, we can self-soothe increasing emotional regulation.
When entrenched in emotions, rational thought suspends and we revert to habitual patterns. This adaptive process quickly prepares the organism for threats without the much slower process of rational analysis. But this adaptation also has its own hazards; An emotionally flooded mind may be destructive to long term objectives. While intoxicated with emotions, we strike with intent to destroy rather than resolve. We lose sight of goals. An emotional exchange quickly morphs from a healthy discussion to a battle of wills, utilizing the destructive tools of criticism, contempt and defensiveness. The battle is won, but the relationship critically damaged.
Emotions aren’t the enemy. We need them for survival and connection. They’re essential for a rich and rewarding life. But they can overwhelm and lead us astray. Our mind quickly switches from reasonableness to deeply entrenched damaging emotional responses. If we become intimate with our emotions, familiar with the triggers that send us into a fury, and become skilled at self-soothing, we can avoid harmful behaviors that accompany the emotionally flooded mind. By doing so, we will avoid hurting those around us, and better direct our lives toward long term objectives.