understanding a negative emotion

Tree Mandala Mosaic in the pavement outside the Great Northern Hotel Byron Bay

'A clear understanding of a negative emotion dismisses it.' Vernon Howard

Our emotions are the ways that our body gives us information on what we have been thinking. Byron Katie explains our thinking this way... our bodies breathe naturally and by themselves - we don't have to consciously control our breathing by saying to ourselves 'breathe in and breathe out'... and our thinking is very similar. Our brains simply think thoughts, and then the result of thinking a thought ends up in our emotions. Thinking a happy thought results in our body reacting to that thought, thinking a negative thought results in our body reacting to that thought.

To experience this for yourself try the following exercise, take a few moments for each, after you have read the exercise close your eyes and allow yourself to think the thought -
  • Think of something that makes you happy - now what is the reaction in your body?

  • Think of somewhere you find relaxing - now what is the reaction in your body?

  • Think a stressful thought like being in a queue waiting for the cash register in a busy store, and only one person on the till - now what is the reaction in your body?

  • Your reaction to the stressful thought will depend on how you process the thought, if you think, 'well this person only has one pair of arms, and I can wait peacefully, maybe take time to deep breathe and have a relax before continuing my shopping' you will have a different emotion and reaction in your body, than if you think, 'this is frustrating, this is ridiculous, why doesn't this store put on more staff - they make so much money I am really getting angry' and so you can imagine the difference in the body - the blood pressure is starting to rise, teeth are probably getting clenched, agitation is starting.

    Now breathe in and breathe out a few times and let go of that exercise - take time to think of somewhere you love to go in nature, imagine yourself in that space for a while and relax there.

    When experiencing a negative emotion, Byron Katie suggests, we ask the mind 'is that true?' and then if the answer is yes to ask again 'is that really true, can I be absolutely sure it is true?' questioning helps the mind to face the negative emotion, understand it, find information from it, and then release it. There are a few more parts to Byron Katie's The Work that helps you to understand the negative thought process.

    For more information on Byron Katie's work go to: The Work.com