Most people typically live in a state of constant low-grade upset. Most are addicted to anger. Just look at the state of the world today and you will realize just how true this statement really is. From divorce to road rage to war and every angry upset in between, the vast majority of people are addicted to anger – just as a heroin addict is addicted to heroin. The addiction is that severe and compelling to the anger addict.
Those who habitually feed their need to experience anger will surround themselves with people and circumstances that tend to evoke an angry reaction.
This is no accident.
Those who choose interpretations to life’s events that “make them angry” are addicted to the false power surge that allows them to feel temporarily powerful, dominate others, and avoid being controlled by them. Unfortunately, most are oblivious to the costs of this addiction. Chronic anger destroys relationships, destroys trust, and causes health issues….to name a few.
For others, anger might not have been an acceptable behavior growing up and so they learn to suppress their anger and turn this emotion inward, causing it to evolve into sadness. It is estimated that more than 250 million people worldwide are spiritually depressed. This type of depression is simply an addiction to sadness. Those who are consumed with sadness will scan for interpretations, opportunities and people who “make them sad”, just as those addicted to anger will attract people and situations that stimulate their addictive mood.
Although people afflicted with this addiction to sadness swear that they hate being sad, this powerful emotional state offers them many contrary benefits:
- Sad people tend to be victims
- They feel sorry for themselves, and evoke sympathy and pity from others
- They avoid responsibility for their lives and for finding ways to be happy
Chronic addiction to sadness is so life-changing that it often alters brain chemistry in the person with such an addiction.
The third most common emotional addiction is fear. Fear paralyzes people and just like those addicted to sadness, it allows them to avoid responsibility for managing their thoughts and fears. Often, such an addiction to fear will show up as a tendency to worry. It does not matter what they worry about. They will scan for and find some reason or circumstance to allow them their “fix”. They may worry about the economy, the weather, their appearance, relationships, job/school, or whatever negative possibility they can envision. Their addiction is so strong that many will self-sabotage just to create reasons to justify their need to worry!
Did you know that about 99% of what we worry about never actually happens?
As human beings, we all possess the ability to access each of these emotional states. However, each of us typically has a tendency to gravitate toward one of them in particular. The predominant mood we develop is usually a function of our earliest upsets as a child when we first decided that we were imperfect, unlovable, not good enough, flawed or whatever version of low self-esteem has our name on it.
During this early childhood upset, someone said or did something that either had us buy into their negative opinion about us or had us invent a reason for why it happened that made us angry, sad or afraid. Perhaps the child thinks that people are cruel, careless or unloving, etc. It all serves as an initial assault on their fragile self-esteem. From this point onward, the child then begins to scan for more evidence that her initial thought about her imperfection is accurate. The next time a potential upset surfaces, the child (coming from the fear that there is something wrong with her) withdraws, becomes defensive or aggressive, or in some other way may contribute to bringing about the very reaction she fears the most. The more she creates such a self-fulfilling prophesy, the more convinced she is of her flaws and the greater her self-esteem suffers.
Now, here’s the good news!
Once you identify what your automatic emotional response is to any upsetting attack on you or in a situation you are involved in, you are on your way to building a solid foundation of self-esteem. Here are the steps to take:
- Recognize your trigger (automatic emotional flag) that signals that you are not interpreting life in a way that supports you.
- Learn to separate facts from interpretations – the ability to distinguish what actually happened and what negative interpretation you may have created about these facts.
- Create new empowering interpretations that are mood-free, do not damage self-esteem and keep the relationship with the person involved in the upsetting situation intact. Empathy is the key to successfully reinterpreting these upsetting situations.
- Recreate the relationship by acting with empathy, love, non-attachment and understanding. When you can learn not to allow others to “push your buttons”, you will realize that you have the power to not react to another’s upset.
With practice, by managing your emotional mood and creating empowering interpretations that are mood-free, non-reactive and unattached to the reactions of others, you will be able to allow the other person to be upset without reacting or taking it on as your own. This feeling of Personal Power builds self-confidence and bolsters self-esteem.