By Anil Bhatnagar October 2002 Mounting stress, rotting careers, recurring unpleasant episodes, lingering fatigue and depression, failing relationships, accidents and all kinds of diseases ranging from recurring colds to full-blown third stage of cancer! Isn’t it already too much of a price that we are paying for not learning just one very simple thing-how to manage our negative emotions effectively? Prabhat Verma (except this, names in the other case histories have been changed on request), though only an average student, was the darling of our class in school. It was almost 20 years later that I met Prabhat again-a man walking listlessly, with his head slightly bent forward. Having heard my story, Prabhat spoke his heart out: ‘I was not as lucky, Anil. Only a year after shifting to the new school, the principle chucked me out. One of the teachers had said something derogatory about my parents. And before I knew, I had already hurled a paperweight at my teacher’s forehead with all the rage and power I had.’ He is now working as a helper in a shop. Hurling a paperweight at your boss even in anger might seem unimaginable, but are you conscious of what you do when in the grip of a negative emotion? Do you observe in your life a pattern of recurring illnesses, accidents, bitter relationships or professional ill luck? Consider these cases: · An orthopaedician herself, Dr Sameeksha’s foot was in a plaster yet again-her third accident that year. ‘I don’t know why this is happening to me. I can understand it medically, but I don’t quite know how to prevent it,’ she says with frustration in her voice. · Keertan was sure that this time the girl he was marrying (after three years of acquaintance) would stick with him. But this one turned out to be as short-lived as his earlier two marriages. ‘If I were to choose all over again, I will probably not choose things any differently. I do not know how the girls I choose change their personality in no time.’ · Kapil had started a computer-training institute’s franchise with his brother-in-law. Within six months this relative wanted the business solely for himself. Given this delicate situation, Kapil’s father advised him not to protest. He has not been able to forgive his brother-in-law till date. He later joined a company at a senior position. But in a few months time, the company stopped paying him because of a temporary cash crunch. A committed Kapil stuck on, only to realize that his seniors, despite the bad times, were enjoying parties and getting salaries. Kapil had to leave. Do you identify yourself with any of these people or others who are not consciously aware of their emotions? If you do, you too are unconscious of your undesirable responses to charged emotions. Nor that the pattern of undesirable episodes you are encountering have been elicited by virtue of these responses. Prabhat, unconsciously modeled after his parents, learnt to repress negative emotions till they reached saturation and he eventually exploded. Dr Sameeksha was extremely angry and worried about her only daughter who was having an affair with a boy she vehemently disliked. But Sameeksha found it difficult to let her feelings be known for fear of unpleasantness. She was wallowing in her negative emotions and her secret desire to hit her daughter, to get some rest, to feel her own pain and to receive others’ sympathy was mirrored in the repeated injuries to her foot (feet represent moving into future). When we tend to deny to ourselves or feel ashamed to own up to the real reasons for the feelings we are wallowing in, we force them to create real life excuses to make them appear more obvious and justified. Draw Keertan’s attention towards the relationship problem he is going through, and he starts comparing it with that of his friend Ritish who is going through worse. Keertan’s ex-wife Sheela confirms: ‘Keertan expects more love from others than he has for himself. The slightest slip on your part may fit into his belief that you are neglecting him.’ He nurtures the deep-seated feeling that he is worthless and unlovable. Unless he recognises this misconception about himself, no woman can convince him of her love. Kapil has intense pain, resentment and anger locked within. To disconnect himself from the unbearable pain that accompanies his feelings he has subconsciously developed numbness towards them. But nature persists untiringly by creating and re-creating the experiences that will give Kapil the opportunity to feel and let go of the pain and thereby grow spiritually. Like these four people, most of us find it difficult to deal with negative emotions and our usual responses to them are uneducated and therefore ineffective and risky. The common ineffective responses are (i) repressing (ii) wallowing in, (iii) exploding, (iv) denying or comparing, or (v) numbing. Repressing emotions does not save us from pain. On the contrary, it stifles our capacity to experience positive emotions. Wallowing in emotions makes us attract external situations that confirm what we are reeling under. Ignoring, denying or comparing them does not eliminate them, much like the fire that is not extinguished when you shut your eyes. It disconnects you from your inner dreams and your capacity to live them. Numbing forces nature to recreate the painful episodes you are running away from because these are essential for your emotional growth. Emotional hygiene Research indicates that almost all diseases are attracted by us through our inappropriate ways of handling our negative emotions which act like magnets for diseases. With negative emotions are released harmful toxic chemicals that are stored in your body causing fatigue, pain, stress, anxiety and disease. Each thought or feeling is accompanied by the secretion of corresponding chemicals called neuropeptides, which get stored in the site meant to represent that aspect of personality that they relate to. For example, a feeling of not being able to do something that one cherishes may result in a corresponding neuropeptide ‘downloading’ into one’s lungs (lungs represent freedom) that may add to the progressively increasing congestion being felt there. Nicholas Plotnikoff and Anthony Murgo in their book Stress and Immunity point out that hopelessness and helplessness have often been associated with early relapse and mortality in human cancer studies. In 1987, scientists Levy and Schain found that advanced breast cancer patients who reported joy, optimism and enthusiasm at the time of recurrence lived significantly longer than the rest. Even Robert Kellner, professor of psychiatry at University of New Mexico, reports that there is a comparatively higher incidence of physical and psychosomatic illness in the families of psycho-neurotics. Denied cognisance by the conscious mind, emotions tend to find alternative ways to express themselves and draw our attention through diseases. The symptoms of a disease tell us the need to attend to aspects of our being that are crying for our attention. Usually these are the aspects we are either not consciously aware of, or the ones we might have turned our backs on. Have you noticed how effective our nervous system is in saving us from burns or injuries? It almost instantaneously sends a message to the muscles involved to retract the hand if it inadvertently touches a hot surface. Unfortunately, we are not similarly equipped against the havoc wreaked by our negative emotions. Had our bodies been equipped in a similar manner, we could do the needful automatically. But that way the world would have lost its very purpose-failing to teach us to choose the right thought, emotion and action for us to grow spiritually. Emotions as borderland Through life’s events and experiences, nature keeps sending messages necessary to make us learn and evolve. Emotions are the borderland between what is happening within and without us in a 10-stage unfoldment of an intuitive message. Stage I – Instinctual whispers: We are not trained to recognise our intuitive messages. We must pay heed while they are still whispers. After a day’s work you are leaving office and get an inexplicable feeling of uneasiness, getting more and more intense as you make your way out. You cannot bear it and decide to return to your workstation. And lo! You find your wallet with your money lying partially visible underneath a file. Stage II – Anxiety and nervousness: As you start trusting these hunches, you obviate the necessity for them to reach the next level wherein vibrations rise from the body to the conscious mind and have a nervous quality in them. In trying to push these vibrations to the subconscious mind, people give in to addictive behaviour like drinking, smoking, overeating, excessive television or web surfing, etc. When ignored, the message gets transformed into the next stage. Stage III – Sensory information: One starts perceiving the vibrations of the message as visuals (”golden idea… I can see that happening very clearly”), sounds (‘this rings a bell in me… sounds interesting’), tastes (‘…the meeting left a bitter taste in me’) or touch (‘we are on a sticky wicket’). Stage IV – Emotions: In this stage vibrations get transformed into recognisable emotions. You may feel disturbed, irritable, heavy or sad. If you feel emotionally low, run over the day’s happenings to track the possible cause of the uncomfortable emotion being felt deep within you. Stage V – Stress/addictive behavior: Unacknowledged, the information coded in vibrations gets transformed into a headache, shoulder, wrist or lower back pain, indigestion or a more deeply entrenched addiction such as pornography or
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