The Road to Addiction is Paved with Negative Emotions

the road to addiction is paved with negative emotions

Every day brings a range of emotions some of which will be negative for example, anxiety, boredom, stress, worry, sadness, or just a general feeling that today you are not ready for the day-to-day challenges that life throws at you. 

Unfortunately,  we have become a society where it is judged wrong to have negative emotions, that there is something wrong with us if we don’t always feel the life and soul of the party.  We can feel pressurised to do anything we can to “cheer ourselves up.”  Even after the death of a loved one, that initial sympathy from concerned friends fades and you are encouraged to “get on with your life.” And “Life is for the living.”

However, negative emotions are a normal part of everyday life.  During an average day, it is normal to feel happy and to feel some form of negativity.  Perhaps we get bored in the evening, we get angry when someone cuts us up on the road home, or we get upset when we hear about a friend who has an illness, it’s the roller coaster of life, the highs, and lows, the yin, and yang.  It’s perfectly normal to cycle through a whole range of emotions as we travel through our day-to-day routine.

Accept that it is OK to feel less than OK. Negative emotions only become a problem when we get stuck in them when instead of letting them come and go we add thought to them allowing them to drag us down in a never-ending spiral into depression.

The cycle of emotions we go through on an average day can be both good and bad, with all the highs and all the lows.  The lows are a normal day-to-day occurrence but what we tend to do is to try to shift any negative emotion as quickly as possible by doing what you have repeatedly told your unconscious mind you do when you are feeling less than 100%.  You choose your poison of choice – alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, cocaine, sugar, or that activity that gives you an instant high – gambling, shopping, eating, etc – before the crash and burn of regret and beating yourself up that you failed again to put your bad habit in the past.

How do we control negative emotions? 

  1. Accept that negative emotions are part of the rich tapestry of life.  They are normal and they will pass, just as you can’t stay happy with a big smile on your face 24/7 you won’t feel negative emotions forever because life comes at you fast and the next event will arrive to make you feel good or not so good.
  2. When you feel any negative emotions try not to analysing them.  Don’t ask yourself “why do I feel this way?” because your mind loves a question and will do everything it can to find an answer,  As soon as you ask why am I feeling sad? your mind will present you with at least 10 reasons why your life is less than perfect.  Ask instead “How do I want to feel?” and then “What do I need to do to feel that way instead?” Once you have the answer – move, go and do something else, anything. New movements will always create new thoughts. 
  3. Don’t use negative emotions as an excuse to indulge in bad habits.  It might be a short-term fix but if you keep using the same fix every time you feel e.g., bored then you create a habit and bad habits are hard to break.
  4. The quickest way to change how you feel is to change your posture.  Notice how you are sitting or standing and if you are sitting then stand up, make your body big, stand tall and raise your arms in the air as if you have just won a race.  Hold the pose for a couple of minutes.
  5. A lot of negative emotions come from thinking about the past and what you could have, or should have done or thinking about the future and catastrophising all the things that could go wrong.  Try and let the thoughts go, realising that any thoughts about the past are wasting your time because no amount of ruminating will change one thing about the past.  And the future?  No one knows what the future holds, we just have to let it unfold day by day.  Try to stay in the moment and let the wonder of each new day reveal itself like a beautiful painting coming to life. 
  6. Put on your favourite comedy show and laugh even if you don’t feel like it.  Laughing is contagious and releases lots of lovely hormones that will help you change how you feel.  If you haven’t had a good belly laugh for at least 2 hours then the chances are that you are taking life too seriously. 

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