“One ought to hold onto one’s heart, for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too”
– Friedrich Nietzsche-
We have to accept it as a reality of our world that much of what we think and feel is being shaped by social media platforms cementing beliefs and perspectives.
Emotions are an involuntary initial response to external stimuli by the brain’s limbic system as part of our evolutionary survival system.
The ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers were well aware of this human trait. So, they developed a philosophy of life that maximizes positive emotions, reducing negative emotions, and honing virtues of character.
The Stoics believed that the way in which you respond to the world is your responsibility. They propose that most of the time your response to any given situation is a choice. At any moment you have the ability to choose one response over another.
Wisdom was seen as living in harmony with the divine Reason of that which governs nature. They trained the mind to remain calm amid the vicissitudes of life and fortune.
When a mass circulation newspaper prints on its front page an article on what would happen if Russia dropped a nuclear bomb on London, this inevitably triggers toxic emotions such as fear, anger, and outright terror. You have little control over such emotions, the brain’s limbic system is triggered into fight or flight mode.
When you go into rational thought you will start questioning the intention of the article and realize that the newspaper is merely pushing emotional buttons in order to boost its circulation and thus its advertising revenue. You will ask yourself: What is real? What is true? What is exaggeration and hyperbole?
Are you chained to your past with your self-talk?
Thoughts are always just that: Thoughts: They dwell on either an event of the past or an imaginary scenario of the future. Your quality of life will be severely impeded if you remain chained to self-talk that centers around the sadness over that which was and is no more or a perceived “grievance” that someone has inflicted on you. The mind is trapped in worries and concerns if it is fed a constant dosage of negative news on the economy.
The authenticity of the heart-mind
Heart mind feelings come from an entirely different space. Fear is transmuted by trust, and hate with love. Unconditional love and empathy come from a grounded trust in the power of a higher entity, the universal intelligence or God.
While an animal reacts mostly from the limbic instinctual level, the human has been given the power of choice and the ability to reflect. You need not be chained to your past. Every moment you can decide through choice to change your destiny.
Where to start?
The inevitable question is: How do I regain control of toxic emotions triggered by a newspaper headline or a hurtful remark by a loved one? The first step is acceptance of those negative thoughts. Trying to push them away will only make the monster bigger. Before going into immediate attack mode, you could take a deep breath and ask yourself: Is my anger and hurt really justified? Where do I recognize that anger from? Where do I know that feeling of not being seen, heard, or disrespected?
A healthy body creates a healthy mind
If you are living a mainly sedentary lifestyle you will be far more prone to becoming a victim of negative emotions. If you feel healthy, fit, and strong you will be in a better position to “catch” the runaway horses of your mind. By practicing regular deep walking in nature you will find an inner rhythm that is in tune with your purpose and destiny. You will literally be walking toxic emotions off. Create a fixed time every day where you practice meditation, yoga, taichi, or qigong. These ancient body arts are perfectly suited to realign body, mind and soul.
According to the Stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius “very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.“
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker
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