In Progress With Anthony McClain: Curating Your Emotions

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A bad mood is the prolonged experience of negative emotions.

I want to make it clear that this statement is not about developing a thicker skin. This is not about ignoring the things that make you upset. This is not about making yourself smaller or acquiescing to what someone else wants you to be. It’s about being more aware of the things that agitate you, practicing measured and productive responses to said agitation so we can navigate these spaces in a way that allows us to be more productive human beings. It’s about spending more time being happy and less time being in search of happiness.

When curating your emotions, it’s important to take into account all the things that elicit negative emotions within us and to be really thoughtful about that list. There are things that make us all upset but it’s really valuable to reflect on your individual pet peeves and be able to extinguish the negativity as quickly as possible.

One of the major contributors to how we feel is the language we use, internally and externally. Reflect on the way you speak to yourself and ask yourself if you’d allow a loved one to speak to you that way. Would you allow an enemy to speak to you that way? Is the language to yourself a fireable offense? In all seriousness, this part may be the most important and will potentially take the most work. Our self-talk is laden with doubt and pejoratives. Negativity doesn’t help anyone flourish, and that is what we are choosing to feed ourselves.

Secondly, be mindful of the things you choose to give your attention and allow to come out of your mouth! I rarely complain. That’s not to say that I am indifferent, but I am also extremely aware as to how my past complaining never helped me solve a problem. Speaking negativity into the world never brought the right type of people closer to me. More importantly, it didn’t make me feel good. It never made me feel good. So why would I subject myself to it? This may sound trivial, but it has been invaluable to me when expressing my displeasure for something I’m very mindful about the words I use. I interchange words or expressions that are excessively negative with sentences like “that’s not my favorite” instead of “that’s trash” or “that’s the worst.” It gets the point across while also not offending others. If the people around you feel good, chances are you feel good too. Take note the language you allow yourself to be around. It’s not about leaving people behind (because you’re not). Everyone just isn’t meant to come with you. 

The next contributor, one that is probably harder to identify and put into practice, is emotional intelligence. Understanding the physiological impact of your emotions as well as their more nuanced prolonged presentations. Starting with the physiological, call to mind a time when you were angry, nervous, or anxious. There is typically a somatic response, such as sweaty palms or armpits, increased heart rate, tight chest, tapping, shortness of breath along with a myriad of other presentations. Key in on these signs and the impact they have on your responses then respond accordingly, whether it’s potentially removing yourself from the situation or having effective coping mechanisms where applicable.

I am not asking anyone to be impervious to negativity or to be someone they aren’t. I’m highly irritable and find myself “woosah”-ing often during a stressful conversation. The “woosah” is simply a reminder to express myself without getting so worked up or agitated. To give myself the necessary pause. What most people fail to realize is that stress has a measurable and negative impact on your body. Express yourself without stressing yourself out.

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