Struggling to deal with fear, shame or guilt?
Learning how to manage your mind and emotions is a superpower! Of course, we all want to do this to create more happiness and success in our lives.
For most of us, emotional intelligence doesn’t come so easily. Many of us still feel controlled by our emotions rather than understanding that our emotions come from us.
Make no mistake: we’re ruled by our emotions. Even when we use our logical brain to decide on what to buy or where to eat etc. we’re usually just justifying a choice that our feelings already made. We’re ruled much more by our emotions than we’d like to believe.
That can be particularly troubling when you learn that emotions can be used against us. They’re actually a common way for people outside of us to control our opinions and actions.
The truth is that the outer world (your family, friends and the media) use emotions as weapons all the time. But if you’re not aware of how this works, you’re doomed to be controlled by it.
Negative Emotions As A Weapon
For example, this is the very foundation of modern advertising itself. Did you know that Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays basically invented advertising as we know it today? He took principles from propaganda and figured out how to use them for large corporations. We still feel the effects of this rebranding today. Our emotions are being manipulated all the time; unless you develop emotional intelligence of your own, you run the risk of being controlled by them.
You’re here to live your best life–not to become a happy Kmart shopper who’s blind to how much their outside world controls their feelings and actions.
Ultimately, our emotions are always in our own control. You don’t have to to take the emotional bait from anyone. You’re actually giving permission to all those things you feel–which means you can also stop giving that power away.
Control Your Emotions To Control Your Life
It’s only once you see how common emotional manipulation really is that you’ll understand how susceptible we all are to it. Understanding how your brain works really will give you your power back and make you less likely to feel out-of-control in this chaotic world.
While emotional manipulation is actually a huge topic, today I wanted to touch on the three most common emotions that are used to control us: fear, shame and guilt.
Fear, Shame & Guilt: Negative Emotions To Release
Release Fear, Shame & Guilt Tip #1:
Fear is one of the best tools of mind control there is. When we’re afraid, we’ll do almost anything to convince ourselves we’re safe again. But most of the time, fear is just an illusion. Our brain excels at making mountains out of mole hills which means our fear is often wildly out of proportion to reality.
Fear literally locks your brain up and puts you in fight-or-flight mode. In that state, your vision gets super-focused: you’re trying to solve just one problem to put yourself at ease. However that tunnel vision doesn’t do you any favors. When you’re narrowly focused on one problem or issue, you lose perspective and also the ability to see some very obvious solutions.
Be very wary when someone is asking you to be afraid of something. Once you notice this tool, you’ll see it being used almost everywhere: on the news, by politicians, in regular advertising. But of course the TV show wants you to keep watching, the politicians want you to vote for them and the advertising people want you to buy something. Developing awareness of this mechanism will help you to build immunity to it.
Release Fear, Shame & Guilt Tip #2:
Shame is another potent tool of control. We’re pack animals at heart; we want nothing more than to fit in and be accepted by those around us. At one point in time, being rejected by our peers really was a matter of life-or-death. We had a much better survival rate in a group. Going it alone was highly dangerous.
Times might have changed but our brain remembers that danger from our collective past. That’s why shame is one of the most painful emotions we have. Think about your most shameful memories! Even though they may have happened long ago, bringing yourself back there can still sting terribly. We know what shame feels like so acutely we’ll do almost anything to avoid feeling that way again.
The funny thing about shame (like all emotions) is that shame requires our participation. Someone can’t shame you unless on some level you agree with them. Our natural instinct is to run from shame but we actually have much more power over it than we think. Developing a sense of shamelessness is really just an act of self-love and preservation. The more you can shrug off your shameful feelings with a “so what?” the less likely you’ll be to be influenced by them.
Release Fear, Shame & Guilt Tip #3:
Guilt is another dark emotion that causes us much discomfort. It’s actually built right into many major religions. If (like me) you were raised in a Catholic household, you’re probably all too aware of the power of guilt.
Guilt lies very closely to shame. Unlike shame, we experience guilt mostly as a projection. Other people tell us what we need to feel guilty about. But, once more, we have to agree to that projection in order for it to have an effect on us.
There are multiple ways we can feel guilt. We can feel guilt around things we actually did or around things we’re just thinking about doing. We can also feel societal guilt (like for eating meat) or for guilt about other people (for having more or not doing enough).
A normal amount of guilt is healthy; it helps us have empathy and relate better to others. But excessive guilt can be toxic. Again, it’s you that’s that’s really holding all the cards. What happens when you drop the “should’s”? Where does your heart tell you is truly right? When you stop worrying so much about what other people think, it leaves you the space to step powerfully into your own authenticity.
So tell me: which emotions do you notice the most in yourself & what were the triggers? How can you zoom out to see the full picture instead of letting your emotions rule over you?
Fear, shame and guilt might be intense emotions but they don’t have to hold you hostage. Your emotions aren’t bad guys. There’s always something you can do to learn from them and shift them.
Remember that you’re in charge of your own thoughts–which then dictate your feelings. The more you practice diving in to see where things are really coming from, the easier it will be to manage these tricky low-vibe feelings.