The 5 Major Negative Emotions
There are all kinds of emotions, probably a much longer list than I could ever write down. Possibly even that I could imagine, but did you know there are only five major ones that act as an umbrella for all the others? Let’s take a look at them.
You might be someone who’s maybe a little bit irritable, you might feel that you’re absolutely furious about something, you might want to rant about something, you could be in a rage or you could just be mildly ticked off, but we tend to classify all these as anger. Anger is important because of its effect both on yourself and on other people.
If we’re angry—so in any emotional state we’re less likely to be thinking logically— then back to Steve Peters releasing the chimp this is our chimp playing up.
Anger in the unconscious mind leads to things like heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure – fairly serious health issues. Not only that, we will preclude ourselves from all kinds of opportunities in life, because if you think about it, who likes to deal with an angry person? The answer is nobody. Most people will keep their distance from you or just pass you by. Others, who are angry themselves, will get into fights with you. You’ll find it difficult to hold down any quality of personal relationship if you find yourself permanently angry. Each time your anger subsides, you’ll then be depressed and or guilty about what you did while you were angry. This just puts more fuel on the ‘angry fire’ for next time.
Anger is the most obviously destructive emotion. Whilst I’ve dealt with both men and women who have anger issues, women most often feel they have to hold onto anger as a defensive strategy and men quite often use anger as a mask to disguise other emotions, mostly fear.
There are some schools of thought which say you must respect anger and honour it. Frankly, this is just nonsense being spouted by those who don’t know how to release it.
The most important thing to remember about anger is that it is the way you punish yourself for someone else’s mistake. Like any of the emotions, if we can get to that root cause in our unconscious, we can release anger if you want to. Any of these emotions that we hold on to because we’ve got some justification, are going to be harder to release until you’re ready to let go of the justification.
I’ll give you an example, somebody was angry because they were bullied at school, no one noticed, nobody did anything, there was no justice. So there’s what I call righteous anger. the problem with righteous anger is that we are effectively punishing ourselves for the wrong that the other person committed and people hold on to this righteous anger – sometimes for decades.
If you went back to the original situation where you knew the alleged perpetrator and said, why did you do X? or did you do X? They’d probably have no recollection of it, so it’s unlikely that any law was broken, or any court case could be brought. So all that’s actually happening is that our victim here is actually punishing themselves and that doesn’t really work very well. That tends to sap your energy, keep people distant and give you blood pressure and various heart issues. If you’ve got anger the best thing to do with it is to release it. If you know your root cause like this person did then let’s talk about how to release it and release you from your emotional prison and you can get on with the rest of your life.
Another big one for people right now is sadness, or depression, because of lockdown. Depression, let’s be clear, is really, really simple. It’s just unresolved sadness over time. The problem with sadness over time is it becomes depression. Depression can lead to all kinds of immune system dysfunction.
It is amazing how many people come up to me and tell me what their ailment is.
One lady came up to me at an event and told me that she had multiple sclerosis. She hadn’t even told me her name at this point, but I asked her, “What happened in the three years prior to your diagnosis, did you have any significant emotional events?” “oh yes”, and she described this event. It was interesting in her language that she was catastrophizing the event. Of course, catastrophizing the event creates the trauma, the trauma creates the emotion, the unresolved emotion creates the dysfunction in the immune system and before you know what, this person is quite seriously ill with lesions on their brain and walking with a stick, having been told by her doctor she would never walk unaided again.
I’ve worked with quite a few people now, solely on their depression. All we’ve had to do, in every case, is to release their sadness. Single emotion cases like these can often be completely resolved in an hour or two.
If you know you’re carrying something around, go and talk to somebody who can help you release it. Sometimes you just talk to your friends, it’s really that simple that when you actually share the burden it lifts a bit. You will know whether it’s gone completely or whether actually, you need to get some professional help.
I’ve noticed as well with helping clients release sadness, I had one that said—when I did the follow-up call a week or so later — “oh it’s great, my doctor’s taking me off my M.E. medication”. I was like “what?!”. So she continued, “I was on medication for M.E. and my doctor said I don’t need it anymore”. Wow! So again, a simple emotional cause, once released, she doesn’t need to be ill anymore and can get on with the rest of her life.
Sadness is a big deal. One of my bugbears is that actually, we’ve got a lot of celebrities talking about their battle with depression. It is great that they are talking about it so that other people can too, but there’s a problem.
You don’t need to battle with depression, you just need to release sadness. It’s really that simple. I’m happy to take on any challenge that someone wants to bring on. The only caveat is that you’ve obviously got to want to release the sadness, not hold on to it for secondary gain.
If you’ve lost somebody, one of the mistakes people make is that they hold on to the emotion of the loss because they think that helps them remember the person. No, it doesn’t. We can actually separate the two. You’ll still remember the person and then you don’t need to feel so bad about losing them.
One person was referred to me because they actually used to start bleeding around their gums and having all sorts of skin rashes on the anniversary of the deaths of two family members. A simple reframe was enough to help let go of the emotion and to choose a more positive reaction.
The death of a child is probably every parent’s worst nightmare. In these cases, the emotion is so raw and extreme, that there can be severe health problems in the medium to long term. We need to help these people see that they could have a better, more positive reaction to the passing of the child and therefore not suffer the health problems as a result. No child would want their parents to suffer as a result of their death.
There is a lot of anxiety right now. There are a number of drivers of increasing anxiety in society. Obviously, with the lockdown there’s anxiety about the security of employment, obviously, if I’m anxious about the security of employment I don’t know about my security of living. So you understand why that might be happening. I think we’re becoming, dare I say, more feminized as a society and what’s happening is therefore we’re becoming more emotional.
I think there’s also much more emotional messaging out there in terms of what we take in, what we see, what we hear, the way the media works —newspapers, tv, radio and all advertising. It’s trying to influence us and manipulate us all the time and that can drive people to be more anxious than they need to be because they lose a sense of perspective.
Anxiety is one of the mania emotions (the other is anger), but it’s incredibly draining and what it also does is prevents us from moving forward because we’re simply too scared to take the steps. Don’t be one of those people who never have a fulfilling life because of anxiety. Releasing that emotion to get on with the rest of your life can be much easier than you might think. Again, get to the root cause of the emotion and once you’ve released it, everything will be a lot calmer.
One of the things that get in the way of that is simply bad habits. In other words, you’ve always learned to react in the same way. It’s like a pathway. We’ve got to stop you from walking down the path so that it overgrows and we find a more positive path for you to follow.
Another reason why releasing might be difficult is if you’re living with other people who are also anxious and fearful, you simply get re-infected. It’s very important to take care of who’s around you and if that’s your family it might be difficult, but it is still really important.
Hurt is quite an interesting emotion because most everyday hurts are physical — if I fall down or somebody hits me or I bump into something — but non-physical hurt is just our perception. Somebody might say “oh that was a very hurtful remark” but to another person, it would be water off a duck’s back. How we perceive things is often driven by our previous experiences.
Typically with hurt, you tend to get two types of reaction. The passive victim lets their physiology do the talking. These are the people that feel hurt and start eating to comfort themselves. I’ve yet to find an obese person who doesn’t have emotional problems. If you ask anyone what someone would need to do to lose weight, their answer would be “eat less and exercise more”. Faced with this simple truth we’ve built a multi-billion dollar industry which doesn’t work! The cause of obesity is not the lack of being on a diet. The cause is emotional.
The other sign of a passive victim is someone who is always ill. This is the way they get attention and sympathy from other people who collude with their game.
The other type of reaction is to become an active victim. Active victims are always nagging for attention. There will always be drama around this person. It’s how they get their feeling of importance.
Both passive and active are feeling hurt in some way. We have to get to the root cause, back to the old dieting question: no point going on a diet and struggling with that if you don’t actually get to the root cause, which has nothing to do with the diet company. Remember the diet company is selling you products, it’s not solving your problem. because as long as you have the problem you’re going to buy the diet products. Of course, this allows you to blame the products because you just haven’t found the right one yet. It’s nothing to do with all the snacks and chocolate you eat when you think no one is looking.
If you are struggling with your weight, then ask yourself what happened to me. Somewhere in your past will be your answer. The answer does not lie in products, so save your money. Think about what your root cause is and find someone who can help you release it. You’ll then be able to manage your weight without products.
The last major negative emotion is guilt. Guilt is a really interesting one, it’s quite rare that I’ll have a client who’s got significant guilt issues—so I have less expertise in that area, but the process is the same. Somewhere along the line, you perceived that you did something wrong.
Feeling guilty may have been an appropriate reaction at the time, but is it appropriate to keep that guilt with you for the rest of your life? You know even if you commit a criminal offense—unless it’s incredibly serious—you don’t go to prison for the rest of your life, you go, you serve your time and you then get on with the rest of your life.
So if you’re dragging guilt around with you, ask yourself what purpose is that guilt serving? Chances are it isn’t, however bad you feel about what happened. Let it go because it isn’t serving you and you can’t undo what’s been done. Let it go. Again, I can help you do that if you need support.
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