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Destructive Patterns That Destroy Our Peace And Happiness
At one time or another, every person on earth will experience some type of emotional dysfunction, especially as we are growing up. Sometimes, this is simply a part of the learning process as we grow into our more mature, developed selves. For example, we might become angry over inconsequential things or have self-harming thoughts. For others, these feelings are not stepping stones to more mature emotional patterns, but they actually become emotional or mental illnesses.
This doesn’t mean all negative thoughts are harmful or dysfunctional. Negative thoughts are a natural human experience. It’s when we hold on to these negative thoughts and allow them to grow unchecked over a long period of time that they become dangerous.
Yes, humans should feel all of their emotions and acknowledge that we have them. But when we are unable to find a way to deal with our negative emotions, when they stay inside us festering, they could be considered to be self-abuse as they cause us pain. People who say “I fly off the handle pretty easily” or “I never got over my first love”, are showing self-destructive behaviors that ruins your chances of ever being happy or finding true peace.
You might think that feelings “happen” to you and that you have no control over them but this isn’t really true. If you lined up 50 people, walked up to them and slapped them in the face for no reason, chances are pretty good that all of them would have a slightly different reaction and response. Why? Because our life experiences give us different ways of viewing things. In this example, a Marine who gets slapped might feel it was a test of bravery and would show no response, however, a person who was regularly abused as a child might completely fall apart, feel they had done something wrong, and collapse in tears and anguish.
We do have some control over our feelings but how we react to those feelings depends on our life experience and environment.
Take a look at the top examples of ways that many people torture themselves and deprive themselves of peace and happiness by holding on to these destructive patterns.
1. Frequently Feeling Offended
You have probably seen this problem all over the internet, especially social media sites like Facebook. Although feeling offended by something from time to time is normal, feeling offended a great deal of the time is not. Even if something is truly offensive, why should we feel badly because of something someone else did or said? If we invest our feelings in the manners that other people behave, we are destined to be unhappy and angry because there will always be someone in society who is thoughtless and insensitive.
However, if you are offended and then blame the other person for how you feel, you are disempowering yourself. When we don’t take responsibility for how we feel, we give away the power to change how we feel, and to be who we wish to be.
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2. Keeping a Death Grip on Guilt
Many people seem to have a death grip on guilty feelings about something in their past. Does this change what happened? Are these feelings doing you or anyone else any good? Of course not. Everyone makes mistakes. Of course, if you could see into the future and know the future outcome of something, you would do things differently. Realize that you did or did not do something based on what you knew and who you were at the time. The goal of guilt is to realize that we made a mistake, learn from this, take corrective actions (such as apologizing, if possible) and then move on. Holding onto shame, regrets, and guilt only leads to severe emotional dysfunction and it will forever keep happiness out of your grasp.
3. Holding on to Sadness or Depression
Don’t confuse sadness or depression with grief. Grief is a natural process people must go through when they lose a loved one or something dear to them. Grief becomes dysfunctional when you cannot heal from it and you cannot move forward. See a therapist if you feel this applies to you.
Sadness or depression because life does not always go your way is another story. Some people choose to become angry about life’s ups and downs, others take on the “woe is me” attitude. The truth is that life isn’t always wine, roses, and chocolates. Sometimes life sucks and it hands us a raw deal. A negative outlook on life, especially in combination with a lack of low self-esteem, can cause criminal depression. At the same time, depression also represents how we negatively process the past and the present. This is why drugs alone do not always help those who suffer from depression.
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4. Anxiety Prone
Perhaps one of the most common dysfunctional states in our modern world is worry. Worrying is often a learned and then nurtured behavior. Chances are that your parents showed you that excessive worry was “normal” and then our fear-crazy society confirmed this for you. Society teaches us that if we should worry whether we have the perfect spouse, just the right house in the right neighborhood, the right car, whether we got the best loan possible, whether we are investing the best way possible, and whether our kids are playing in the right sports! The list is endless!
Perhaps the most telling thing about how ineffective and damaging worry is, would be that if you were to add up all the times you worried about something, and the times that those things actually came true, and not to mention how worry actually fixed anything, the percentage would be in fractions. One of the best things to remember about worry is:
1. Is there a real problem in your life? If the answer is yes, ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it. If there is, then do it and you don’t need to worry. If there isn’t anything you can do, then there is no need to worry.
2. Ask yourself if there is a real problem in your life. If the answer is no, then there is no need to worry.
Don’t rob yourself of happiness and peace now by worrying about things that will probably never happen and that you most likely cannot change anyway.
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5. Negative Judgements
Everyone makes judgements every day. People who say that they don’t judge people are not being entirely truthful. It is natural to assess your environment, and determine dangers or opportunities, including the people in your environment. The problem here is that we often judge people without having all the information we need about them to make a fair judgment.
When we negatively judge people, it’s generally in comparison to ourselves. We wonder why they don’t think or act like we would. When our judgement becomes dysfunctional is when we focus only on a person’s negative traits. When we constantly compare ourselves to others and find them inferior, not as intelligent, not as educated, not as rich, not as ethical, or not as “whatever”, this is when it becomes a problem.
Judging people, and assessing others, is a delicate and tricky business. The way most people judge others is a source of discord in society. Try removing self-comparison out of the picture and try to see how many ways we are alike, rather than the differences. This should restore a sense of balance to the picture.
Of course, these are not the only dysfunctional emotional states that can stop us from feeling contentment and inner peace, but these are some of the most common and most damaging.
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When we are living in these types of emotional states, we are harming ourselves and not taking proper care of our bodies and minds. No one can overcome these dysfunctional states except through our own work. When we take responsibility for how we feel, we empower ourselves to change.
Yes, you really do have that much power. All you need to do is take it!