Understanding Your Emotions to Journey Forward
(an essay on the importance of finding your silver lining)
Have you ever woken up stressed and overwhelmed, and the day never got better? Rather than ignoring or repressing these negative feelings and emotions by distracting yourself, it is important to acknowledge the way you are feeling. One must use those feelings in order to get rid of negative emotions and move on. Negativity needs to be consciously reflected upon and manifested into positive feelings and productive actions.
Junior year has been extremely tough year for me. I struggled through many rigorous classes with very demanding course loads. All year I have been battling to stay on top of all my assignments as well as staying engaged in class due to lack of sleep. I combat lack of motivation, mainly with beginning my homework after a long, strenuous day at school. At the same time, more and more homework is assigned every day and not doing anything produces more stress. I begin to feel like an inferior, unaccomplished student. This year I have really been struggling with my writing as well. Every time I begin to write, I second guess my ideas and begin to overthink everything. I get anxious when things doesn’t sound the way I want them to sound. It is therefore hard to start the writing process. I get extremely overwhelmed and need to take constant breaks to clear my mind. This can be very frustrating because I know that I need to be productive and get stuff done however, this produces excess negative emotions that can be hard to deal with. I have become acutely self conscious of my academic performance. The pressure of knowing junior year is very important for colleges adds a constant worry in the back of my head. I question whether I’m doing enough. On top of all this, I have been struggling with figuring out who I am, and what I want to get out of life. These are are questions I think many of my peers struggle with as well. This is a time in my life where everything is changing and it can be stressful; anticipating the future when you don’t know exactly how it is going to turn out. All of these things combined produce negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, frustration, lack of confidence, and worry. But with every struggle there is always an opportunity. Embracing these negative emotions and using them as motivation can help with self improvement and overall increased happiness. This begs the question, why is negative thinking so hard to overcome?
It is harder for the brain to convert from losses to gains than it is to convert gains to losses. This is why our view of the world inherently leans towards a more negative perspective, making it harder to be positive. Our minds tend to look for negative information more than they do positive. From an evolutionary standpoint this was very useful when they always had to be on the lookout for danger. Today, there is significantly less physical danger we need to worry about but because our brains are structured in the same way as our ancestors, our brains find different ways to use the part that causes negative emotions. In a lot of cases, there is an overproduction of negative emotions that gets triggered by daily activities (Martino). Many times these emotions are unnecessary and can be prevented by finding inner peace with your emotions. In order to do so, you need to learn how to accept your emotions rather than fighting them. This will give you more energy and overall happiness in life. The reason this happens is because there is no such thing as positive emotions, only negative (Sen). Think about it. When you are are sad, it can be extremely hard to pull yourself out of the sadness, even when logically you know it might not make sense. On the flip side, when you are happy, you are only so because there is a lack of sadness. You can be sad and feel happiness, but you cannot be happy and feel sadness. You are only happy when you are balanced. This does not mean you can only be happy when you have no emotions, it’s the contrary. In order to achieve a sense of balance and therefore happiness, you must learn to accept your emotions for what they are and try to learn from them. It is a constantly evolving journey that has no “end.”
Although this year has been an emotional rollercoaster, I’ve realized all my negative emotions are not always bad. They can be turned around into something positive. I can use all of my frustration, all of my anxiety, all of my self doubt, and all of my worries to reflect upon my life and what needs to change. Whenever I am feeling something that is weighing me down, I take a minute or two to truly think about why I am feeling that way. When I come to a conclusion, I use it to help me think of ways to improve myself. I have found this especially useful for self motivation. For example, if I begin to feel that I am not good enough while doing homework I will ask myself why. Usually the answer is that I don’t think I am being as productive as I could be. I can use this knowledge to motivate myself to stay on task and focus on one thing at a time until I am done. Over the past month I have learned that not all emotions that make you feel bad are actually bad. There is always a positive you can draw from your emotions no matter how small.
Emotions are one very important aspect that makes up the human condition. Energy flows through beings, connecting the mental and physical aspects of the body. Emotions are used to achieve a more balanced self. It is important to pay attention to feelings and embrace them when experiencing this discomfort. Feelings are what contribute to thoughts and therefore actions. The reason negative emotions exist is because it is your body’s way of telling your mind there is a problem that has been left unresolved (Martino). If these emotions are never acknowledged, they will slowly become worse and worse, ultimately overtaking your life. If left for too long, these emotions can eventually manifest themselves physically through disease, relationship difficulties, create a sense of unbalance in life. The mind can ultimately control the body. Emotions are just that. They are a form of psychosomatic pain that manifests throughout the body (Hartmann). Although there is no physical cause of pain, does not mean the pain is not real. The reason the body can physically feel pain from emotions is because emotions are the way your body tells you the natural flow of energy is being interrupted. It is therefore very important that emotions and feelings are addressed rather than ignored.
When faced with strong negative emotions, minds push away these naysaying thoughts in attempt to protect oneself from feeling bad. Repressing these negative emotions can have detrimental effects on overall mental and physical health. As for the mental effects of repressing emotions, it has been found that that repressor personality types feel as though they are immune to negative emotions and pride themselves in being able to keep their cool in stressful situations (Goleman). This, however, is not true. Repressors simply find a way to “ignore the physical manifestations of their agitation,” (Goleman). In this fast-paced world we all live in, it can become easy to ignore what your body is telling you when there is constantly work to be done and entertainment constantly being thrown at you. It is easy to distract oneself from what really needs to be addressed. The mind and the body are very closely connected. Often times, the body is a physical reflection of the mental state. When you are balanced your emotions will become balanced. When you are not balanced, you are more likely to experience a surplus of negative emotions as well as more likely to become ill. An example of this is when some people get stressed, they tend to carry tension in their back or neck. This is a physical manifestation of a mental imbalance. An excess of negative emotions and repressed feelings can lead to poor memory, being less aware of social cues, bad communication skills, higher anxiety and increased risk of depression (Goleman). There are also many physical health risks that are more likely to occur due to emotion repression such as lack of energy, higher risk for asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stiff joints, and reduced resistance to infectious disease (Goleman). Repressors need to acknowledge their imbalance of inner energy and find a mechanism to release these negative emotions in order to eliminate their physical manifestations.
Writing this assay has helped me sort out some of my feelings and emotions that I have been ignoring. In some ways, it has helped me get over my fear of writing. How so? I’ve realized I can begin writing slowly focusing on one thing at a time. I can always go back and fix anything I don’t like. Trying to make everything perfect the first time is unreasonable. Getting something on paper is a concrete way to feel at least some sort of accomplishment. I can then use this accomplishment to motivate myself even further and get the job done. Although I still have a ways to go, I have slowly realized that using my negative emotions to sort out the way I am feeling and why, has proved very useful. My reflection has allowed me to understand myself better and the way I process my emotions. Ruminating over these negative thoughts has also allowed me to begin my process of becoming a more balanced self. I have eliminated many negative emotions just by focusing on how I am feeling and using this knowledge to change my actions. With summer finally here, I hope to be less distracted and have more time to understand myself. I think this will also help me on my journey to figuring out who I want to become in life.
It is important not only to react to things around you, but to consciously observe yourself and what you are feeling. Think about ways you many benefit from something that does not immediately seem positive. Can this help me in some way? What can I learn about myself through my negative emotions? Can I use these feelings to change my perspective? These are all important questions to ask yourself on your journey to a balanced self.
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