Our impulses are potent.
They’ve been hardwired into our brain through repetition over the course of many years.
Some impulses are beneficial to our survival while plenty of others cause us unnecessary distress.
When we are stressed out or angry about the million and one little things going on in our life, we release a stress hormone called cortisol. In this flight or fight mode our body literally shuts down our immune system.
And when we are in this state of emotion often enough, our body weakens and we often get tired and ill because energy is no longer being conserved for the immune system but rather sending resources to focus on the anxiety that is occurring in our life.
Interesting fact: Stress hormones like Cortisol are so effective at shutting down the immune system that doctors inject it into people receiving organ transplants. This literally prevents the immune system from doing its job of fighting and rejecting the foreign object.
To make matters worse, each time we get into these stressful states of mind we shut down our brain’s ability to see and think clearly while unconsciously reinforcing the bad habit that led to us building up the tension to begin with.
Suffice to say, these negative emotions are extremely detrimental to both our physical and mental well-being.
If your life isn’t in immediate danger, continuing to live at these elevated levels of stress that’s all too common in today’s world is a sure fire way to reduce your lifespan.
But enough with the negativity!
It’s time to focus on confronting the negative with the positive.
The next time you find yourself starting to get worked up, possibly by recognizing the tension in your body or by certain thoughts you begin telling yourself, try to take a step back and breathe for just a quick second or two.
Become aware of the big picture and ask yourself questions such as:
How can I take care of myself right now?
What would be the best thing to focus my attention on?
Is this situation worth harming my body and mind for?
Can I replace this emotion of frustration with a positive one like compassion?
It certainly won’t be easy and it’s a guarantee that there will be moments where your old triggers override your reasoning, but with practice you can begin to minimize the damage that would typically turn into a blown out stressfest.
Even better, the habit of impulsive reactions will naturally weaken over time while the new and more positive patterns will consume more attention, leading to a better quality of life.
“Every habit and capability is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions, walking by walking, and running by running . . . therefore, if you want to do something, make a habit of it, if you don’t want to do that, don’t, but make a habit of something else instead. The same principle is at work in our state of mind. When you get angry, you’ve not only experienced that evil, but you’ve also reinforced a bad habit, adding fuel to the fire.” – Epictetus