13 Mar With just 5 questions you can become emotionally stronger
via Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker
Ever been caught in the grip of extreme emotions? I’m gonna guess whatever decision you made next probably wasn’t a good one.
When we’re anxious, angry, or sad, we rarely do the smart thing. And that can seriously mess up our lives. At work, in love, or pretty much anything we do, we need emotional strength to stay cool and do the right thing.
Now dealing with the ups and downs of feelings isn’t anything new. And nor are some of the best solutions. So let’s look at what some ancient wisdom has to say about dealing with difficult emotions.
Studying Buddhist mindfulness or Stoicism can take a heck of a long time. So we’ll prune their insights down to 5 questions that can help you when emotions hijack your brain and send you into a tizzy.
First up: worrying. When your mind is filled with anxious concerns and doubts, what question do you need to be asking yourself?
“Is This Useful?”
Face it: your brain can be a pretty crazy place. All kinds of things bounce around in there. And you’re usually pretty good at culling the wacky thoughts. But then you get worried…
And your brain starts multiplying negative possibilities like crazy. And you make the mistake of taking them seriously. Every. Single. One.
Remember: you are not your thoughts. Neuroscientist Alex Korb made an interesting distinction when I spoke to him. If you were to break your arm you would not tell people, “I am broken.” But when we feel worry we’re quick to say, “I am worried.”
Your brain produces thoughts. That’s its job. But that’s not directly under your control. So just because something is in your head, doesn’t mean it’s “you”, and should therefore be taken seriously.
When I spoke to Buddhist mindfulness expert Sharon Salzberg, she said this:
I think one of the issues that we have is that we don’t necessarily recognize that a thought is just a thought. We have a certain thought, we take it to heart, we build a future on it, we think, “This is the only thing I’ll ever feel”, “I’m an angry person and I always will be”, “I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life”, and that process happens pretty quickly.
If you acted on every crazy thought that popped into your head, I can guarantee you two things:
- There’s a blockbuster reality show in your future.
- And not a lot of happiness.
So if you are not your thoughts, who are “you”? You’re the thing that decides which thoughts are useful and should be taken seriously.
The ancient Stoics believed that you are just your reasoned choice; because that’s the only thing fully under your control. So those worried thoughts aren’t you. The decisions you make regarding them are.
You’re not your brain; you’re the CEO of your brain. You can’t control everything that goes on in “Mind, Inc.” But you can decide which projects get funded with your attention and action.
So when a worry is nagging at you, step back and ask: “Is this useful?”
When I spoke to Buddhist mindfulness expert Joseph Goldstein he said:
This thought which has arisen, is it helpful? Is it serving me or others in some way or is it not? Is it just playing out perhaps old conditions of fear or judgment or things that are not very helpful for ourselves or others? Mindfulness really helps us both see and discern the difference and then it becomes the foundation then for making wiser choices and why the choices lead to more happiness.
If the worry is reasonable, do something about it. If it’s irrational or out of your control, recognize that. Neuroscience shows that merely making a decision like this can reduce worry and anxiety.
(To learn the 7-step morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)
But maybe you’re not worried. Maybe you’re furious. But what is anger? Where does it come from? And what question can make these HULK SMASH feelings go away?
…keep reading the full & original article HERE