Do you want to control your emotions and gain peace of mind? Your emotional state can dramatically change your outlook on life. When you feel positive, you’re more open and ready for challenges. When you feel negative, you’re closed off and act defensively. Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop being controlled by your emotions and master them instead?
In his book, “Master Your Emotions: A Practical Guide to Overcome Negativity and Better Manage Your Feelings,” Thibaut Meurisse discusses how our emotions work, how you can get rid of negative emotions, and gain peace of mind.
🧠 The First Main Factor for Emotions: Your Primordial Survival Mechanism
What do you think is the most important purpose of your brain? To remember things? No. To think? Not quite. To make you happy? Definitely NOT! The main purpose of your brain is to make sure you survive. This explains a lot of human behaviors.
🔹 Sudden movements or loud noises grab our attention because they could be threats to our survival.
🔹 We sometimes overeat because, as hunter-gatherers, we needed to consume as much food as possible to survive.
🔹 Fear of rejection and feeling hurt come from our ancestors’ need to be accepted by their tribe for survival.
Now there is no saber-tooth tiger coming to attack you, there is abundant food, and you can survive even if you’re rejected by your tribe. But that ancient part of our brains still controls our emotions and behaviors.
🌟 The Second Main Factor for Emotions: Your Ego
Your ego also plays a big role in your emotions and behaviors. Your ego is your identity that you’ve created in your mind with your thoughts, not with concrete reality. You have a strong desire to protect your ego. Whenever you feel your ego is threatened, you feel a strong urge to defend it.
🔑 The Key to Mastering Your Emotions: Your Thoughts
You don’t need to be at the mercy of your survival instincts or ego. You actually have a powerful tool to master your emotions: your thoughts. You can use your thoughts to create your reality and interpret life events in a more positive and constructive way.
📈 Formula for Strong Emotions
In his book, Meurisse describes the formula for strong emotions this way:
Interpretation + Identification + Repetition = Strong Emotion
Addressing one or more of these elements can help in reducing the intensity and duration of strong emotions. By gaining a better understanding of your emotional responses and thought patterns, you can work on adjusting them accordingly to reduce the impact of negative emotions on your well-being.
🌐 Interpretation: Your Interpretation of Events Determines Your Emotions
You might not be aware of it, but an event itself has no meaning. You add meaning to an event by adding your interpretation to the event.
That is why the same event can mean different things to different people. Snow can be positive for people who love to ski, but can be negative for people who need to shovel their driveways.
You feel negative emotions when reality fails to meet your expectations and assumptions, which are essentially your thoughts.
If you expect that Wi-Fi should always work, when the network goes down, you’ll get annoyed. If you expect there won’t be any traffic to get to your destination and get caught in a traffic jam, you’ll get mad. You expected that tomorrow would be sunny, but you woke up and saw pouring rain. You get upset!
By interpreting an event differently, you can change your emotions.
🙁→🙂 “No Wi-Fi?” “Great, I can read the book I wanted to read.”
🙁→🙂 “Traffic jam?””Great, I have time to listen to my favorite podcast.”
🙁→🙂 “Rain? Ok. I can learn to dance in the rain!”
🙁→🧐 You might assume that people will agree with your opinion. When you realize that they don’t, you think they are wrong and you get upset. But why do you assume other people should agree with you? You might benefit from spending some time examining your own assumptions.
Victor E. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist who founded Logotherapy (healing through meaning) said,
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Your thoughts are that powerful.
✅ Reframe negative events in a positive light.
✅ Examine your assumptions and expectations.
🎭 Identification: Your Identification Determines Your Emotions
You might think, “I am sad,” or “I am depressed,” as if your emotions are you.
But remember, your emotions are NOT you.
Emotions come and go. It is more accurate to think, “I am feeling the emotion of sadness or depression right now.”
Let the negative emotions pass and accelerate their departure from your mind.
Negative emotions are like uninvited house guests. The more you pay attention to them, the longer they’ll stay.
Get busy with activities, such as exercise or hobbies, that require your full attention. Don’t pay any attention to those uninvited guests. Once they realize you aren’t interested in them, they’ll leave you alone.
You might not be motivated to do any activities when you feel sad or depressed. But you actually don’t want to wait to be motivated.
As I wrote in another article, in his book, “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy,” David D. Burns, M.D. says that
“action must come first, and then the motivation comes later on.” He says, “if you wait until you’re ‘in the mood,’ you may wait forever!”
By taking action, you will get motivated. Since you get more motivated, you will take more action. This is a virtuous cycle.
Believe that once you start activities, your motivation will grow.
✅ Recognize that emotions are temporary and not part of your identity.
✅ Engage in activities that require your full attention, letting negative emotions pass.
⏰ Repetition: Stop Repeating Negative Emotions and Find Peace of Mind
The longer you keep the emotion, the stronger it gets. If you repress your emotions, those emotions sink deep inside you and become a part of you. You don’t want those uninvited guests to take up residence in your house.
By letting go of your negative emotions, you can liberate yourself, gain your peace of mind, and stop suffering. Believe it or not, the person who benefits the most from letting go is You.
Choose your “peace of mind” over “being right,” “keeping score,” or “getting even.”
Life is short. Don’t waste your very limited emotional energy and time by clinging to your negative feelings.
Clinging to them doesn’t serve anybody, especially not you.
✅ Let go of grudges and negative feelings.
✅ Choose peace of mind over being right or keeping score.
🚀 Take Action Now!
To control your emotions and gain peace of mind, focus on:
1️⃣ Reframing negative events in a positive light and examining your assumptions and expectations.
2️⃣ Recognizing that emotions are temporary and not part of your identity. Engage in activities that require your full attention, letting negative emotions pass.
3️⃣ Letting go of grudges and negative feelings, choosing peace of mind over being right or keeping score.
As you practice these strategies, you will develop greater emotional resilience and experience a more balanced and peaceful state of mind. Remember that your thoughts are powerful, and by harnessing them, you can take control of your emotions and live a more fulfilling life.