Too many people view life through a negative lens. People often say “my life sucks!” or “nothing good happens to me!”. People walk around as if their life is a burden. In fact, everyone probably struggles with this at times. Living life this way is detrimental to well-being. This post is not about disregarding unfortunate events or circumstances in people’s lives, rather, it is about highlighting the tendency of people to react based off their negative emotions.
Emotions are not facts
Emotions are 100 percent valid and real. In fact, emotions are healthy and should be expressed. Emotions are what make people special and beautiful. Without them people might as well be robots. However, emotions are not always based in fact, especially the negative ones.
People have a tendency to see their world through their emotional lenses, especially if they are experiencing difficult emotions, such as sadness and/or depression. Negative emotions have a tendency to overwhelm a person’s ability to reason and react appropriately.
Have you ever had something bad happen to you, like losing a job? If so, you can probably relate to the way everything else in your life seems to suck once you lose the job. This is because your emotions begin to take hold. You may begin to think that you are a bad person, unintelligent, unemployable, or worthless. These feelings are powerful and will bleed into other aspects of your life. That is how one facet of your life, employment, may begin to affect other areas of your life in an unhealthy way. This can be a bad, out of control spiral.
Take Time To Check Yourself
Let’s continue with the example of losing your job.
There is no argument that this is an unfortunate life circumstance. In fact, it can be detrimental. However, it’s crucial to remain fact based when something like this occurs. An event like this may deal a great blow to your self esteem. This is because most people have a tendency to be self centered. Most people would take the job loss personally. However, did you really lose the job because you are a crappy person?
This is where you need to make an actual effort to fact check your emotions. Is the company down sizing? Were there budget cuts? Did anyone else lose their job? Did I perform horribly? There are usually alternative, more reasonable explanations for the bad situations that occur in life. Many times the facts of the situation do not match your emotions. This is a good thing. This means there is an ability to fix this discrepancy.
Make a Decision
Once you have assessed the situation it is time to make a decision on how to proceed. What do the facts say? What do your emotions say? Is there a difference between the two? If the facts are different than your emotions, it’s up to you to determine how you react. If you decide to react based off the facts, you have the ability to maintain a positive self esteem and move forward. If you begin to react based off your emotions, you may begin to lose your self esteem. This will quickly bleed into other areas of your life.
However, reacting off a mixture of both feelings and facts is healthiest. Feeling frustrated (emotion) about a job loss that you suffered due to budget cuts (fact) may actually increase your motivation. The frustration may be motivational fuel to apply for new jobs. Reacting this way validates your emotions, but also allows you to proceed based off the facts of the situation.
Learning to discern your emotions is challenging. Like anything else in life it takes work. A conscious effort is required to slow yourself down, process the situation, and react accordingly. With practice, you will improve. Once you are able to react based off a healthy mixture of emotion and fact, you will begin to notice significant improvements in your life.
* Mental illness is a serious medical condition. This article does not intend to disregard this as some of the advice written above may not be optimal for those suffering from chronic mental illness.