Welcome to the world of people, who from a bit of curiosity, or at the other end of the spectrum, because of an ultimatum, have made the decision to walk the first steps towards a less mistaken mode of perceiving… for a more balanced stress response!
From our negative moods as a starting point, our ability to transform unpleasant emotions into pleasant emotions requires a well-developed emotional intelligence (EI), and fortunately, it can be acquired!
Self-mastery, or “sophrosyne” in the language of Plato, is a virtue.
The Hellenist Page Dubois has translated it as: “the care and intelligence brought to living one’s life well; well-tempered wisdom and balance”.
I already hear you say: “That’s all very well, Lyne, but this is a life’s work!”
And if I could help you with transforming this annoyance so that in little time, you could happily tell me: this training has become my way of being! … Would you be more motivated to follow me?
But before starting to train for the Powerful Consciousness exercises, which will establish and maintain this transformation, I would like to share with you the perspective of a few thinkers about the most common negative moods.
There are several kinds of anger: the furor generated by the amygdalae, and the cold anger, akin to vengefulness created by the neocortex, which run the risk to be justified for “good reasons”.
Tice has noted that a rumination process to find reasons to justify one’s anger has the effect of strengthening it. On the other hand, taking a different look at the event from a positive perspective leads one to become calmer.
The feeling of being threatened is a universal trigger for anger. This threat can be physical, but often symbolical, when it touches the dignity or self-esteem of the individual.
The psychologist Dolf Zillmann has studied the mechanism and physiology of anger, noting that when someone is already upset and an event triggers an emotional overspill, the intensity becomes greater and can degenerate into furor or violence.
From this physiological analysis, Zillmann sees two means of intervention:
- Defuse by arguing against the thoughts that increase the anger. A reevaluation of the anger-causing events allow the possibility of a scaling down of the response. This works for moderate anger, but not for a true furor which leads to “cognitive incapacitation”.
- Distraction is an extremely efficient technique: thinking or doing something else to change one’s mood, can indeed stop the anger on its track. It can stop the entrainment of anger-producing thoughts, each them being a mini-detonator.
The psychiatrist Redford Williams told his patients to work on self-consciousness by grasping in flight cynical or hostile thoughts at the moment when they appear, and to put them down in writing. Thus, it becomes possible to contest and reevaluate them.
As the Zillmann studies show, catharsis or letting one’s furor run unimpeded does not let it dissipate. The Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa responded to someone asking for the best way to take control of anger: “Do not try to eliminate it, but instead don’t let her dominate your actions”.
Lizabeth Roemer and Thomas Borkovec researched the inclination to worry, which is at the core of anxiety.
Worried minds wrap themselves around a vicious cycle, a single vision in which the person feeds their worry, by idea association, by imagining catastrophic scenarios. When the cycle intensifies, it can degenerate into associated troubles: phobias, obsessions, compulsions, panic attacks, insomnias…
Borkovec discovered that self-awareness allows the perception of worry pockets and helps anxious people at better self-mastery. The key consists in watching out for the appearance of the first physical sensations, thoughts and images linked to the anxiety, and to practice daily relaxation.
The next step is to take a critical attitude towards oneself and ask good questions to address one’s preoccupations. This pairing of attention and perception change acts as a break on neuronal stimulation. Questioning activates the inhibitive circuit of limbic excitation, while relaxation damps down the anxiety generating signals.
The loss of all desires forces someone to reflect, to take oneself out of daily actions and finally to make psychological adjustments to make new plans.
While mourning is useful, depression is not. For depressive people, emotions impede concentration and perturb “active memory”, i.e. the ability to keep useful information readily accessible to memory for the tasks at hand. In deep depression, life is paralyzed and can require hospitalization. In general, someone can get over a latent depression. The propensity to ruminate dark thoughts has a determining effect on persistence or improvement of the depressive state.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is as effective as medication. It consists in contesting habitual thoughts and replace them by more positive thoughts, to force oneself to change one’s view point (cognitive reframing) and establish a program of healthy and balanced distractions, since isolation reinforces the loneliness feeling.
From the studies of the psychologist Richard Wenzlaff, individuals prone to depression must choose fun activities that modulate their moods for the better.
According to Tice, the most efficient remedy is voluntary work, because it takes someone away from thinking too much about oneself. He recommends also to improve one’s self-image and to welcome every little success.
Suppression or Optimistic Refusal:
This is the habitual and automatic behavior to erase emotional troubles out of one’s consciousness. It is an act of mental escape consisting in not caring about affective perturbations.
It is considered today that this process has a beneficial autoregulating effect on emotions, a positive dissociation. The individual remains serene in face of adversity, at the cost of a loss of an under-evaluated self-awareness.