Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Reducing your negative emotions, part of Learning to Be Assertive.
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- I want to talk to you about negative emotions. Would you like to get rid of all of your negative emotions? Get rid of worry, fear, anger, hate, jealousy, regret, blame, impatience, embarrassment, guilt. Yes, of course you would. Although some people have a couple of pet negative emotions they want to cling to, I'll let you keep a couple of your favorite ones if you'd like. Although really, why would you? To get rid of any negative emotion, the first step is taking responsibility.
Realizing that you are responsible for most situations that you find yourself in, and you are always responsible for how you handle that situation. Often, the things that make us most angry are things that we know are our fault, really. We'll take another negative emotion, worry. Once we realize that we need to take responsibility for the outcome rather than just worrying about it, we can start to plan and work on getting it right, and the worry is reduced. I think it's amazing that responsibility is involved in pretty much every negative emotion, when you think about it.
Jealousy, blame, regret, guilt. But the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this is true. I suppose you could say that you're responsible even for whether you choose that negative emotion at all. Are you aware that you are choosing negative emotions? It may feel that they automatically spring up from within you. But think about it, maybe you're responsible for choosing them. Did you choose to get angry? Or, to put it another way, could you choose to not get angry? I think you could.
So, why would someone choose a negative emotion like anger or guilt? Well, we're choosing them due to false payoffs. We believe we're gonna get a payoff, which we actually don't really get. Let's look at both anger and guilt and look at the false payoffs. What would be the payoff that you might get from becoming angry? Well, I think there are two payoffs we think we're gonna get. One is that it will make us stronger. But actually, does it make you stronger if you get angry? Are you most likely to get what you want by getting angry? And I would say, probably not.
The other payoff is a feeling that we might be able to let off steam and feel better afterwards. But actually, do you feel better after you've got angry? Probably not. Once you realize that actually, anger doesn't make you stronger, and it doesn't give you a feeling of letting off steam and feeling better afterwards, you can then decide to not choose anger. Moving on to guilt, the second one, what are the payoffs we might think that we're gonna get from guilt? I think, again, there are two main ones. One is that maybe feeling guilty about something you've done makes you feel that you're an okay person, really.
Even though you did a bad thing, at least you're a good person. But on the other hand, does guilt make you an okay person after you've done a bad thing? And I would say, "No, it doesn't." You did the bad thing. The other payoff that you might think you get from guilt, is that it makes less likely to do the bad thing again. But again, do you get that payoff? And I would say, probably not. I think guilt almost gives you permission to keep doing the bad thing, at least you feel guilty every time you do it. So, I think guilt is actually gonna make you more likely to keep doing that bad thing.
Once you realize that you're choosing these emotions, and that the payoffs that you think you're gonna get are actually false, you can then begin to choose to not have them. What would a life of no guilt be like? Would it possible to get rid of guilt? When you start thinking about this, there are two main ways that you could live a life free from guilt. One would be, to be a complete angel. To be perfect, never do a bad thing. I think that would be impossible, At least it would for me.
The other option would be to be a complete devil. Do bad things all the time, and not care. I think we all agree, that would be an unacceptable option. But of course, what about a mixture of these two things. If you could be a mixture of the angel option and the devil option, that would be possible to do, that would work. For example, when my neighbor's cat comes through into my garden, trying to eat my goldfish that I've got in my pond, I could squirt the cat with my garden hose. But if I did, I'd feel bad about that, I'd feel guilty about that.
So, I'm gonna choose the angel option for that, and I'm gonna not do it. When it comes to eating a second doughnut, I think I'm gonna go for the devil option and just do that. If I have a mixture of the angel choice and the devil choice in my life, I can live a life free from guilt. The answer to get rid of guilt is actually to change what you do, which is the angel option. Or, change what you say to yourself, which is the devil option, and banish guilt forever. It's the same for all other negative emotions.
I want you to think about, what's your pet one? What's the payoff that you think you're getting from it? And is that payoff forced? Which, of course, it is. And then, decide not to have that negative emotion in your life anymore.
- Identifying your current mindset
- Avoiding the passive-aggressive trap
- Reducing negative emotions
- Handling everyday putdowns
- Learning to disagree by questioning
- Knowing the most effective words to use