Posted on May 9th, 2006

We often hurt ourselves far more emotionally than we do physically or mentally. Bodies can heal; thoughts can change; but emotions rooted in the damaged past or the feared future can harm us for a long time. There are 5 poisonous emotions. To manage them, we need to employ the power of reason and a range of emotion-healing techniques.

1. Anxiety. The word "anxiety" comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning "to choke". Its effects are indeed choking. They can suck the life out of us and lead to fear, panic, and depression.

The key to managing anxiety is Acceptance.
* attack your worries with the power of reason. Ask yourself whether you have any real reason for your fear.
* write down what it is you fear. Get it out in the open. Get familiar with it.
* once you have explained and defined your fear, imagine the very worst that could happen to you and accept it. Do this calmly, but be sure you do it.
* when you have accepted what could happen to you, you no longer have to fear it. Instead you can take steps to prevent the worst scenario happening.

2. Anger. Anger is one of the emotions that can literally kill us. It is one of the seven deadly sins; it fuels aggression and violence.

The key to managing anger is Ownership.
* if you tend towards blowing your top easily, put a time out on your anger trigger. Use a breathing space formula: count to 10, say the Lord’s Prayer, recite a piece of verse.
* if you are angry because of frustration, try to look at the blocks which are stopping you from getting what you want
* own your anger. Don’t blame others for how you feel: not "you make me angry!" but "it makes me angry when…"
* once you own your anger you can make choices about more appropriate responses. You can recognise when anger wells up in you and divert it to an area called the "defusing zone"
* let your anger go. Visualise it being dropped in a wastebin, thrown into a fast-flowing river or jettisoned into outer space.

3. Resentment. Resentment of others is a stressful emotion because it locks us into the past and condemns us to re-live a time of pain and suffering. Often our hatred continues when those who are the object of our hate have moved on.

The key to managing resentment is Forgiveness. Here are some ways to learn how to forgive:
* own your hatred. Don’t blame others for how you feel. Not: "you made me hate you" but "what you did was so awful that I find myself hating you."
* recognize that hatred cannot hurt anyone else except you
* resolve to let go of your hatred by an act of forgiveness. Announce the words "I forgive…(you)". If you like ritual line-drawing, send a bunch of flowers or small gift.
* do the same when you fall out of love with yourself. Stop punishing yourself for not being perfect.
* think of people who have had real cause for resentment, perhaps due to the loss of loved ones in tragic circumstances, but who have been big enough to forgive
* make sure your resentment is given a proper burial and move on with the rest of your life.

4. Inadequacy. Inadequacy is the feeling that somehow we are just not good enough. It is thought that the vast majority of people suffer feelings of inadequacy at some time or another. This is made much worse by a world which promotes images of other people who appear to be better-looking, more successful, more happy and more loved than we are.

The key to managing inadequacy is a strong self-image based on a proper sense of your value and not on false values such as money and success.
* stop assessing your worth as a human being by comparing yourself with others who you think of as more successful
* accept that there will always be some people who at any time appear to be better than you and some who appear to be worse
* say to yourself: "I am me, you are you. We are unique human beings; there is nobody else like us in the world;
* create a strong self-image of the person you want to be. Work towards being that person.
* count your blessings often
* devise your own definition of success. Ask those you love and who love you if you are a success in their eyes.

5. Guilt and Shame. Guilt and shame arise when we compare ourselves with an idealised belief of how we should have behaved. We fret over mistakes; we panic when we don’t do what we should do; we feel miserable when we come in way down the track.

There are two keys to managing guilt and shame; one is Confession and the other is Letting Go of the past.
* don’t harbour secret guilt feelings. If you feel guilty, admit it. Tell the person; say you’re sorry.
* don’t feel you’re alone. No human being is perfect, we all make mistakes. * don’t punish yourself needlessly. If you have made a mistake, don’t exaggerate it; instead work to put it right.
* recognize the need to own up to your guilt and let it go.

Manage these 5 poisonous emotions and you will manage your stress and lead a more productive, harmonious and balanced life.

(c) Eric Garner,

If you enjoyed this article, why not sign up to our FREE 10-day Leadership Skills e-course? All you have to do is send a blank email to and you’re under way. For lots of other FREE training resources, visit our website at ManageTrainLearn now. Manage: to get it right! Train: to stay on top! Learn: to be a success!

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply