POWER OF EMOTIONS
Why are your emotions so important?
Did you know that your emotional state has everything to do with you ability to heal? This is because your body responds physiologically to the way you act, feel and think. So for example, when you spend long periods of time dwelling in negative emotions such as sadness or remorse or worry; or if you live with high stress levels on a regular basis, your body will eventually respond with disease, infection or other health problems. In fact, it’s now a well-known fact that ongoing stress can lead to things like high blood pressure and ulcers.
Studies have also shown that when you hold negative attitudes for prolonged periods of time, there are chemical changes in your body. Specifically, a stress chemical is released into your blood stream that actually inhibits the work of your immune system. Now you can imagine, if your health is already compromised in any way, this additional stressor to your immune system will only make the problem worse.
Here’s an example: People suffering from acute depression are much more susceptible to cancer and viral infections such as herpes. But, when the depression ends, their body’s immune system can return to normal performance and the risk of disease decreases.
Even if you don’t end up with a serious illness, it’s now very clear that a steady ‘diet’ of negative emotions will weaken your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to colds, infections or worse.
There’s no law that says it has to be this way
These examples might make it look like you don’t have control over your emotions, but this is not the case at all. In fact, the opposite is true. Even though most people allow their external circumstances – combined with feelings – dictate their emotional state, this
doesn’t mean YOU have to. There’s no law that says it has to be this way.
So what do you think is actually behind your emotions? What gives them the energy they need to exist in the first place? We could say it’s memory. But let me ask you this – isn’t memory a kind of thought? Yes, it is. Your thoughts control your emotions. This is a very important concept to understand. You see, no matter how wonderful or miserable a memory or situation might be, how you think about it – and how often you think about it – will determine what kind of emotional state you experience.
So let’s take the same example of the movie with the sad break-up scene and consider it again …
You’re feelings associated with a sad break-up have triggered negative emotions, but it doesn’t end here. Now, you have a choice: you can dive into the sadness with your thoughts, memories and judgements about your past experiences. (Which will make you
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Or, you can choose to change the subject!
That’s right, you can consciously decide to put your thoughts somewhere else. Because ultimately, it’s your thoughts that determine your emotional state. And your emotional state, as we’ve seen, has the power to ‘make or break’ your healing success.
How can I Change the Subject When I’m on ‘Red Alert’?
Now you might be wondering how you can simply ‘change the subject’ when your emotions are on red alert. This is a very good question, and the rest of this lesson will answer it.
5 Skills for Healing Success!
There are 5 skills you can use to change the subject of your thoughts for successful healing. These skills are:
1. Awareness 2. Forgiveness 3. Gratitude 4. Meditation 5. Optimism
We’re going to look at each of these five skills closely, and you’ll have the chance to build each one with an exercise.
Awareness is the very first thing you’ll need in order to take conscious charge of your emotional states. If you aren’t aware your emotional states and tendencies, or the ways they’re being triggered, then you don’t have any power to change them. But when you bring awareness to your own internal processes and the kinds of situations that trigger negative emotional states for you, then you are in an ideal situation for making powerful, positive change.
In order to become more aware of your negative emotional tendencies, you’re going to take a kind of ‘inventory’ of your emotional life. Now this may feel a little painful at first, but if you are honest with yourself and really complete the questions below, you’ll find that you’ve got the key information you need to direct your emotions in new and positive ways.
You can answer the 4 questions below for each negative emotional state that you find yourself in frequently.
What negative emotional state do you tend to find yourself in most often? (ex: anger, fear, sadness, depression, critical of self, critical of others …)
Think about the last time you felt this way. Now ask yourself: “What event or inner thoughts triggered this state?” Was that ‘trigger’ typical of the kinds of things that usually put you in this negative emotional state? What memories or negative experiences from your past felt like this?
Congratulations! Just by answering these questions, you’ve become aware of what causes most of your negative emotional states. And the cool this is once you’re aware, you can’t be caught ‘off guard’ anymore. So the next time a negative emotion is triggered, you’ll know why and you’ll be able to do the single most important thing about it – change what you’re thinking about!
Although this is easier said than done, the next 4 tools will help you change your thoughts.
An amazing way to quickly change your emotional state is by looking for something to be grateful for. Now I’m not saying this is extremely easy, but it really isn’t that difficult. After all, just look around you, there’s got to be something to say thank you for. Maybe it’s the roof over your head. Maybe its the health of your family or eyes that let you read these words. What you choose to be thankful for doesn’t matter. What matters is that you start as soon as you catch yourself falling into a negative emotional state.
1. Take a deep breath. 2. When you exhale, look around you. 3. Pick one thing you see that you are grateful for. 4. List at least 3 reasons why you appreciate this thing. 5. Take another deep breath. 6. When you exhale, look around you. 7. Pick something else that you are grateful for and repeat the process. 8. Do this as many times as you need to until you feel your emotions shift from negativity to gratitude.
Another great tool is to keep a small notebook with you, and any time you feel yourself getting negative, take just 2-3 minutes to write down everything and anything you feel grateful for. If you can’t write things down (maybe you’re driving or walking the dog), simply say them out loud.
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There’s a lot of confusion about forgiveness. Some people are under the impression that when we forgive someone for a wrong-doing, we let them ‘get away with it.’ Forgiveness doesn’t mean you ignore the other person’s responsibility. It doesn’t justify the wrong. You can forgive someone without excusing their harmful act.
True forgiveness has very little to do with the other person, it has to do with you – the forgiver. Forgiveness is a way to let go of negative emotions, resentment, anger and even thoughts of revenge. Until you forgive, the act that hurt you in the first place will continue to be a part of your life. Forgiveness loosens the ‘grip’ that the original pain has on you so that you can refocus on the positive aspects of your life. At its best, forgiveness will lead you to empathy, understanding and compassion for the person who harmed you. Forgiveness will bring you peace about a person or situation so that you go on with your life.
According to Dr. Katherine Piderman of the Mayo Clinic, the price you pay for not forgiving can be very, very high. “If you’re unforgiving, you may pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life may become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You may become depressed or anxious. You may feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You may lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.” (source)
Now think about these negative consequences in light of what you’ve learned about negative emotions and stress. Is it possible to hold a grudge and still be doing all you can for your health? Probably not.
This exercise should be done in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and where you feel safe and relaxed. Have a pen and paper with you.
1. Make a list of anyone in your life – past or present – that you have not forgiven for something.
2. After your list is complete, look at the name of the first person on the list.
3. Their name alone should bring up the memory and negative emotions associate with them.
4. Using your imagination, take all of the feelings and memories that you experience and put them in a container outside of yourself. The container can be as large or small as you want it.
5. Now that all the thoughts and feelings are ‘contained’, examine them for a moment like a scientist or a very curious child.
6. Try to observe without judging anything.
7. After a minute or two, imagine yourself filling the container with cool water.
8. As you see the water pouring into the container and covering all those hurtful feelings and memories, say the following: “[Name of person] I forgive you for [insert the wrong-doing]. Even though there is no justification for the harm you caused, I am willing to set you free and let my negative emotions go from inside me. In this way, we are both free to do better.”
9. Repeat this with each person on your list.
10. Finish by thanking yourself for having the courage and self-love to be willing to forgive.
A regular meditation practice is to your emotions what exercise is to your level of physical fitness. I’m not talking about a long secluded meditation – just take 5 or 10 minutes. Not only does meditation calm your mind, it also offers your body many benefits like:
Lowering blood pressure
Lowering cholesterol levels
Reducing chronic pain
Increasing oxygenation of the blood
Synchronizing both hemispheres of the brain
Increasing your recovery time from stress
When it comes to dealing with negative emotional states, meditation offers another benefit too. A regular practice of meditation gives you a much broader perspective on life. To quote author Richard Carlson, it lets you quit “sweating the small stuff”.
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You always have a choice: you can look to your future optimistically or pessimistically. What you chose will have a powerful impact on your level of happiness and your state of health. When you have an optimistic attitude, it’s much easier to visualize your ideal outcome -including being healed of any health trouble or disease. Studies have shown that optimistic people tend to live longer, healthier lives.
Take for example, the University of Pittsburg study on women and optimism. This is an ongoing study that began in 1994. It looked at over 100,000 women over 50 years old. Eight years into this study, researchers found that the optimistic women were a full 14% more likely to be alive than their pessimistic counterparts.
In another study conducted by Erik Giltay of the Psychiatric Center GGZ Delfland, in The Netherlands, 999 women and men between the ages of 65 and 85 completed a questionnaire on their level of health, their morale, relationships, self-respect and optimism. Nine years after they completed the questionnaire 397 of them had died. What the study demonstrated was that the participants who were optimistic had:
a 23% lower risk of death due to heart failure a 55% lower risk of death due to all causes
Clearly there’s something to be said for your mental outlook on life!
But what if you don’t feel like a ‘naturally optimistic’ person? What if your mind is so used to imagining worst case scenarios that you simply can’t get yourself to look on the ‘bright side’? This is where Affirmations come in.
Affirmations are statements – either written or spoken – with an positive or optimistic message.
1. Choose a future event or situation that has you worried. Maybe you need a car repair and are worried your mechanic is going to find a lot more wrong with it than you want to spend right now. Maybe there’s someone you’d like to date or get to know but you’re worried they’ll reject you. Maybe you are waiting for test results from your doctor and are worried it’s going to be bad news.
2. Now see that future event with two different outcomes: the one you want and the one you don’t want.
3. Place the outcome you want about 2 miles down an imaginary road.
4. Place the outcome you don’t want about 2 miles down another imaginary road.
5. Now see these two roads joined right in front of you. You can’t see the entire 2 miles down each road, but you can see a few hundred feet.
6. Using your imagination, I want you to ‘see’ what each road looks like. Are they the same, are they different? Where are they? Are they paved? What is alongside each road?
Do they go uphill or downhill or straight ahead. Is it dark down the road or light.
Can you hear anything or sense anything from either road? Spend about 5 minutes ‘looking’ down each road.
7. Now, you’re going to make a conscious decision to take a step on the road that leads directly to the outcome you want. Notice how it feels as you take the first step.
8. Take another step, and another as you observe the road and what’s around you. Keep walking until you reach your desired outcome. With this exercise, you have made a decision to tell your subconscious mind to choose optimism. How do you feel?
NOTHING CAN STOP YOU NOW!
We’re on the home stretch now! In Lesson six you’re going to learn about one of the most advanced forms of mind-body healing – the power of distance and psychic healing. The lesson includes a study on distance healing that shocked researchers and changed the way we think about the connection between intention, prayer and healing.
Did this lesson help you understand your emotions?
In this lesson I’ve given you 5 exercises which I hope have helped you understand the power of your emotions and your own emotional challenges. Of these exercises: Awareness, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Meditation and Optimism, which one gave you the greatest insights for your own healing. Please share your experience with us in the comments section below.