5

Four Steps

In the event that you suspect that negative thinking can be detrimental to your physical health, we would like to offer a method of reducing negative feelings that has proven effective for us. It is, of course, oversimplifying things so please feel free to adapt it to your circumstances. And pass it on if you find it helpful.

The four steps to eliminating negative emotions that we like are:

1. Understanding

2. Intention

Without intention…………

No mountain can be climbed

River crossed

Nor anger lost

3. Mindfulness

4. Sharing

It’s basically like this: one must first come to the understanding that carrying around negative emotions, while only natural and normal, is also silly and detrimental to one’s health. Once that conclusion can be reached with conviction, and the intention has been made to rectify that thinking, one must only be mindful of each time a negative thought arises, realize how, exactly, that thought arose, and then mentally classify that thought as stupid or silly. Once that practice is adhered to, the time between experiencing an emotion and then realizing what the emotion is, will progressively shrink until the recognition of an emotion will be apparent as it arises or even before it manifests. It is quite “normal” to carry around a feeling of anger for hours, days, or even weeks, before one even realizes that it is anger that has changed our overall emotional well being.  At the point the recognition of the feeling becomes almost immediate, the negative emotion will cease to affect the body. The process may take the rest of one’s life, but one’s health will improve exponentially along the way.

We humans have brains that can function without our conscious awareness. We don’t think about each muscle to move when walking across a room, or which hand to use when tucking in a shirt. We have created habits that our brain remembers well. We only need the intention to set things in motion. The Intention to change thinking along with the habit of being mindful of one’s feelings and realizing how, exactly, they arose is all that is needed to create the means of maintaining a healthy mind and body.

Step 6 in the AA 12 step program involves telling another person of ones frailties and screw ups and it is undoubtedly beneficial in helping the conscious mind to organize and understand one’s reasons for thinking and behaving in a certain way. And so, our step four of sharing, though probably not as important as steps 1-3, is greatly recommended. Empathy for others and sharing of emotions has immeasurable health benefits – not only in terms of consciously organizing thoughts but also regarding the connectedness of minds and our need as humans for socializing with others of our species. Speak to someone of your emotions. And listen, with empathy, to the feelings expressed by others. Some would call that love. And, we should always remember that the blocking of one’s emotions may be the most hazardous of coping mechanisms. We believe that burying one’s emotions and the thoughts that are connected to those emotions, is the major factor contributing to Alzheimer’s Disease. It is usually better to express anger, fear, and other emotions than it is to block them as they can then be more mindfully recognized. And then understood. And then deleted.

Identifying one’s negative emotions is often the most difficult task of all. We can often wake up feeling “bummed out” and walk around the whole day with a vague feeling of “a little off”, without really identifying the hidden worry or fear involved. And so the intention to identify that feeling, coupled with the mindfulness of constantly paying attention to our feelings, are the most important aspects of mental health. There are presently several methods that  claim to assist in the process of identifying as well as deleting negative emotions once they are experienced. We will list several that we think are valuable for certain people. But remember that some methods might be in the business of extending the process of healing and there are others who may well be most interested in placing monetary value on their process. You will find some of them listed under methodologies. We are making no recommendations.

OF COURSE if you are experiencing emotions that are overwhelming or having thoughts that are too disturbing to contemplate and especially if life-threatening consequences or serious disruptions in your ability to coexist with others are involved, PLEASE consult with a mental health professional as soon as possible. There are those who want to help. You only need the intention to seek help.