How To Become Immune To Toxic Emotions
You may not be able to change your boss, colleagues, or family members - but you don't have to breath in their emotional germs. We are all responsible for the 'vibes' we give out – particularly when we know the extent to which others are rapidly affected by them.
First of all let's get one thing straight - No-one can make you feel anything (like angry, sad, afraid) – but they can rapidly influence how you feel.
Your emotions are shaped by your perceptions, views, values, boundaries, bodily sensations, your own mood, stress and energy levels at the time, and even the smells around you.
Your emotions aren't necessarily or automatically under your conscious control.
You probably already know that how you think affects your feelings, and vice versa, and that repeated patterns of thinking and feeling affect how the brain becomes 'wired up'.
There's also a super highway to the brain which affects our mood, and this process is known as Emotional Contagion.
There are also Mirror Neurons in our brain which cause us to be affected by the emotional component of what we're witnessing in the actions of others.
We can all 'feel' something – a mood or an atmosphere – even before we've had time to consciously register it. Apparently, our sub-conscious mind has processed this input at least seven times faster than our conscious mind can.
This has innate survival value - even though we might not be able to escape from a threat at that time.
Emotional contagion describes the process of being 'infected' by the emotions of others.
It's seen in the jubilation of the winning sports crowd, the rage of the fighting fans, and the national mourning for the death of a much loved public figure.
We feel swept along with the emotional atmosphere.
It also exists in the workplace, school and home - especially with people in either a position of power, authority and control, or of vulnerability, weakness and compliance. They each give out their own powerful vibe.
In many situations we can't escape or avoid this threat to our emotional state, and the next best thing is to remind ourselves of what belongs where.
We should ask ourselves - who is this particular feeling or mood emanating from?
We shouldn't simply absorb the mood or allow ourselves to be influenced by it.
We need to metaphorically pass the 'emotional germs' back to the carrier.
When I worked in the civil service decades ago, I'd often feel the atmosphere of the open-plan office suddenly change when the aloof, arrogant, domineering and physically imposing figure of the CEO cast his corpulent shadow across the filing cabinets. I felt his presence even before I'd turned to see him there!
Such was the impact of the 'energetic frequency', or vibration, he was emitting.
Like an autocratic bullying parent, he immediately evoked fear in the simpering and sycophantic 'children', or minions, beneath him.
My own inner child would be primed for defence against his possible attack. There was no fighting back ... only flight, freeze or flop into submission and shame.
We are all responsible for the 'vibes' we give out – particularly when we know the extent to which others are rapidly affected by them, whether they be family members, colleagues or our peers.
How to prevent setting up emotional contagion yourself
Retain your awareness of it – both as a giver and receiver of 'vibes'.
Make a point of sharing your good stuff with those around you, and releasing the rest elsewhere and privately (unless you are invited to share it).
Make a list of your own current troubles and worries – from the worst to the least.
Put this list away for a few hours... then look at the top entry, but from the eyes and perspective of a happier, calmer, more detached and objective person. Re-frame it and dilute it's emotional potency.
Continue this pattern until you've examined these main mood-shifters on your list.
Make the decision to lighten your own emotional load, and change your energetic frequency to a higher and happier one. For the sake of everyone around you!
This isn't about burying or repressing your feelings – which is an unhealthy thing to do.
It's more about taking responsibility for what you're feeling, and not passing negative energy on to others – who may be more affected and influenced by your emotional 'germs' than you are.
You aren't responsible for the feelings or well-being of others (unless they're a child), but you are responsible for what you give out, and your verbal and non-verbal language. Particularly now that you know how this affects people's feelings and the atmosphere around you.
Let's not forget the science here too – that of P.N.I (Psycho-Neuro-Immunology), and Epi-Genetics.
Our repeated feelings, thoughts, sensations and behaviours influence our own cellular D.N.A., and therefore how our body functions - and even how our genes are expressed!
There's also the additional aspect of how we are influencing the personal past of other people.
If people don't know the reason for an unpleasant mood they're feeling surrounded by, they could be emotionally triggered from their own childhood to assume the blame for it – and then behave as -if this were the case in the present time. Heavy feelings of shame and guilt further engulf them - and they don't know why.
The best use and influence of emotional contagion is to find those people who are on our 'wavelength' – those who are good to be around, and who light up a room with their presence, kindness, compassion, humour, thoughtfulness, courage and generosity.
You may not be able to change your boss, colleagues, or family members - but you don't have to breath in their emotional germs.
Neither do you have to cough out any of your own onto other people!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
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