Emotion Management for Daily Living

Nutankumar S. Thingujam

 

Emperor Asoka, at the end of the battle of Kalinga realized the importance of love and peace for a healthy society. He then decided to leave hatred, anger, and revenge. Had this wisdom been there beforehand there would have been a great possibility of not waging war and thereby the lives of thousands of innocents could have been saved. In our day to day life also whether it is at family, school or workplace we all encounter anger, anxiety, and depression even though the amount differs from person to person depending on several factors. Anger generally arises out of interpersonal interaction, and is associated with physical health problems. Anger also destroys interpersonal relation, peace, love and happiness of the self as well as others. Again, my own research has clearly shown that higher level of anxiety is also associated with 1) physical health problems like feeling dizzy, muscles trembling, skin itch, change in urine color, changing eye color, picking sensations in parts of the body, etc. and 2) low self-esteem like "I have low opinion of myself". An optimum level of anxiety is desirable, as it is not possible to completely remove it out of our lives. Similarly, the higher frequency and duration of depression makes our life halt. This is where we have to come to think in terms of emotion management.

How do you answer the following questions? Always, sometimes, and never? " I worry about my past mistakes". "I feel like giving up struggling in life". "Quite small set backs irritate me too much". Many Western and Eastern researchers including myself have found that people who answer to questions like these as "always" tend to be associated with physical health problems like inability to get sleep or stay asleep; headache and pains in head; indigestion or stomach upset; feeling very tired; decrease in appetite; fever; nausea; back pain; and heart rate faster than usual. The bottom line is that appropriate expression in terms of frequency, intensity, and duration (rather than suppression) can help us to become healthy.

Again, how do you answer the following questions? Almost always, sometimes, often, almost always? "I keep anger inside myself". "I argue with others". "I boil inside, but I do not show it". Research has shown that those individuals who respond to these questions as "almost always" tend to be associated with heart disease, cancer, and hypertension in the long run. A review of research literature shows that suppressed anger may be a symptom of good manner, but seems to increase one's blood pressure just as much as expressed anger. Such emotions tend to raise susceptibility to and progression of Cancer as well as Coronary Heart Disease(CHD). So, anger turns out as a double-edged sword. Like anger, hostility is also associated with health problems like heart disease. One of the simple reasons for the relation between negative emotions like anger and anxiety, and physical health problems is that when we are in higher levels of negative emotions our thinking pattern is disturbed to a great extent, thereby the capacity to take care of the physical health is reduced. The good news is that we can learn to express anger as well as other negative emotions at the right amount. Generally, our anger is caused by our faulty belief systems, that Albert Ellis, a New York based psychotherapist termed as irrational beliefs. With the help of a trained psychologist it is possible to learn to minimize our irrational beliefs and turn them into rational beliefs, that is, beliefs that are more practical in our day to day life, and based on evaluations of real life settings. In the similar fashion we can at any time learn effective management of other aspects of emotion.

 

In our daily life whether it is at home, school or workplace anger can be generated from the following sample statements:

  1. Just from your appearance Ajay, I can tell what a loser you are.
  2. Ajay, your parents must be extremely disappointed in how you turned out.
  3. Your low intelligence seems to come through in every thing you do, Ajay.
  4. Ajay, you seem really dirty looking to me. You could use a course in basic hygiene.
  5. Ajay, it doesn't look like you have the ability to play any kind of sport.
  6. To be honest with you, Ajay, I thought you were a loser the moment I saw you.

We all will agree that these provocative statements may trigger anger to many of us (even though not all the time). I admit that these are undesirable and it is not a picnic when such provocative statements are bombarded to us, but it is important to reduce the intensity, duration, and frequency of anger, thereby protecting our physical health. The point I am trying to make here is that we should arm ourselves from not letting anger be chronic, intense and enduring by changing perhaps our irrational beliefs. The good news is that changing our belief system based on the real life settings can minimize all these problems, thereby making life more meaningful to live. We can make ourselves more human. In conclusion, effective emotion management can help us to become healthy and wise in our everyday life.

 

 

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