2 Questions That'll Help Manage Your Emotions

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 1 month ago

Trying to search for that which is unavailable and trying to avoid that which is unavoidable is the source of human suffering. Trying to acquire the positive pole of a magnet without also acquiring the negative pole of a magnet will be futile. Trying to become only a positive thinker and trying to avoid being a negative thinker will be futile and leave you feeling frustrating. Both poles and their accompanying emotions come together and are defined in terms of each other.

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DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 1 month ago

Most people at some point in their lives have futilely attempted to become only a positive thinker.

In my case, when I was 18, my interest in the idea of positive thinking began when someone gave me a set of Norman Vincent Peale’s books, including The Power of Positive Thinking. As a result, I felt inspired to begin trying to maintain a positive mindset at most if not all times throughout each day. However, despite my most intense efforts, I kept falling short of this ideal. It was a daily struggle to try to be always positive without also being negative and always nice without also being mean.

In essence, what I was actually doing was striving for a one-sided existence – attempting to rid myself of traits and emotions that I perceived as being negative. No matter how hard I tried, I found myself being sometimes negative and sometimes positive towards myself or others on a daily basis.

I then moved on to trying to find, read and research more books on positive thinking, however, the balance of positive and negative thoughts persisted. The next step was to meet with key figures in the positive thinking movement, in the hopes that they would have some answers for me that I hadn’t been able to find in their books. I even went to see Norman Vincent Peale and heard him speak to an audience of about a thousand people, only to hear that he too experienced negative thoughts.

He explained to the audience that his books were an attempt to override and balance these thoughts.  This did help me feel less inadequate, knowing that even he experienced negative thoughts.

Other authors or speakers in the positive thinking movement also caught my attention, including Earl Nightingale and his brother, W. Clement Stone, Charlie Tremendous John, and Jim Rohn. One by one, as I got to know more about them, I learned that they were not, in fact, purely positive individuals.

I saw many of them displaying moments of anger and frustration, some were involved in a variety of lawsuits, and one even spoke about his struggles with suicidal thoughts.

This investigation and research, while taking place over an extended period of time, helped to dissolve my fantasy of being positive never negative and highlighted a level of hypocrisy amongst the so-called experts that I had been following.

So, at the age of 28, after a full decade of doing everything I could to become a positive thinker, I began an in-depth research project. I began by taking the most positive words in the English language that I could find, and used them to carefully craft the most positive statements I could think of, which I would repeat 108 times a day. My aim was to repeat and affirm these thoughts continuously throughout each day so I could see once and for all if it was truly possible to foster a completely positive mindset. As this was a research project that I took most seriously, I also documented this process each and every day. I also went on to publish these affirmations in a book titled The 2000 Quotes of the Wise, A Day by Day Guide to Inspirational Living.

The result? After two years of this consistent and rigorous practice of affirming positive statements hundreds of times and monitoring the seven areas of my life, I came to the conclusion that life comprises BOTH positive and negative aspects. As do I, and as do you.

positive-negative

This realization led me to recognize that pursuing a one-sided existence is not just unrealistic but also contradicts the fundamental principles of human psychology and physiology, both of which depend on balance and homeostasis for optimal functioning.

Over the years that followed, and the more I studied the brain, physiology, and psychology, the more certain I became that achieving a one-sided world is a fantasy. As the Buddha is reported to have said, “The desire for that which is unobtainable and the desire to avoid that which is unavoidable is the source of human suffering.

I later distilled my many years of research into positive thinking into a few key points – a key one being that people need both support and challenge equally to maximally grow and thrive.

Being overly supported by an individual can lead to a juvenile dependency on that individual, while being excessively challenged can push you towards precocious independence. However, it’s the combination and balance of both positive and negative or supportive and challenging experiences that fosters maximum growth, as is the need for homeostasis and balance in order to achieve maximum wellness.

So finally, at age 30, after completing my research project, I abandoned all fantasies of one-sidedness.

This led me to my next pivotal question: If I cannot eliminate negative thinking and negativity, what purpose do they serve? My thinking was this – if negativity served no purpose in existence, it would likely have become extinct.

This led me to uncover several insights. I discovered there are 15 common reasons why people experience negativity, which I define as a spectrum including anger and aggression, blame and betrayal, criticism and challenge, despair and depression, and desires to exit or escape, among others such as futility, frustration, grouchiness, grief, hatred, hurt, irritability, irrationality, jadedness, and jerkiness. In other words, what I call the ABCDEFGHIJs of negativity.

These 15 reasons include unrealistic expectations of others to be one-sided. For instance, you might meet someone you want to date and expect them to always be nice and never mean, kind and never cruel, positive and never negative, peaceful and never wrathful. However, this is a fantasy. People will likely respond positively if they perceive that you’re communicating in a way that supports their higher values, but they may react negatively if they perceive that you challenge their higher set of values.

Another reason is expecting someone to always live up to your set of values, in which case, you're setting yourself up for the ABCDEFGHIJs of negativity. Another is combining expectations for someone to be one-sided and to live within your values.  Similarly, if you hold unrealistic expectations for yourself to be one-sided or to live outside your own values, you'll likely experience self-directed negativity or shame.

This list extends beyond personal relationships to an unrealistic expectation of the collective society, and the world, in general, to be one-sided.

unrealistic-expectation-one-sided-positivity

It includes unrealistic expectations of mechanical objects to be one-sided – that technology can somehow read your mind, which too is a fantasy and likely to result in negativity. (You can read more of the 15 common reasons for negativity in this blog post.)

Negativity acts as a FEEDBACK MECHANISM to help bring you back into balance. In other words, to where you can set realistic expectations for yourself, others, and the world around you.

Understanding that negativity is not something to be feared or avoided and instead a powerful feedback mechanism, can transform your life by helping to signal when your expectations are unbalanced and unrealistic.

When you face negativity, particularly when you resent someone for not living up to your one-sided expectations or living congruently with your unique set of highest values, it's can be helpful to use a powerful tool that can help you assess the situation neutrally and objectively. By using quality questions, such as those in the Demartini Method that I teach as part of my signature 2-day Breakthrough Experience program, you can become conscious of unconscious information and imbalanced perceptions, and learn to dissolve polarized emotions.

Here are two questions from the Demartini Method to get you started:

If you find yourself feeling angry and resentful towards someone, take a moment to ask yourself:

  • What specific trait, action, or inaction do you perceive this individual displaying or demonstrating that you dislike or despise most?

It is wise to take the time to clearly define this perception, and focus specifically on the action itself instead of how it made you feel. This clarity is valuable in helping you uncover the source of your imbalanced perceptions and resulting emotions.

Once you've identified the behavior that's bothering you, also think about whether this judgment stems from expecting the individual to always act in a one-sided manner or to live congruently with your values – both of which are unobtainable fantasies.

Next, challenge yourself to see the BENEFIT of their trait, action or inaction.

  1. Go to a moment where and when you perceive this individual displaying or demonstrating the specific trait, action or inaction that you dislike or despise most. Ask who did they display this trait to and who saw them doing it. Then ask: How did the trait you despise serve you?

Like many people, your initial reaction may be to think that there’s no benefit whatsoever, which is why you tend to perceive it as being negative. However, this is because you likely haven't yet become conscious of how it serves or benefits you.

For instance, if the person has verbally criticized you, ask yourself: Was I being overly confident or arrogant? Did I attempt to get them to live in my values or conform to my way of doing things?

If so, their criticism can serve as valuable feedback. It can signal their desire to be appreciated for who they are, not who you might want them to be. As such criticism can be beneficial - it can help to humble you, so you don’t project unrealistic expectations onto them. In this way, it can help you develop and maintain authentic relationships and prevent you from holding onto any delusional beliefs that others should always act positively towards you or agree with your views.

balance-benefits-drawbacks

When you balance the benefits of this trait, action or inaction against your perceived drawbacks, your resentment and anger will dissolve as you calm any unrealistic expectations that may have been projecting onto them.

The same process is wise to do in reverse when you are overly infatuated with individuals and perceiving mostly or only the positives, not the negatives. Here it is wise to then ask; What are the downsides and drawbacks to their actions, to bring your perceptions of them back into balance or equilibrium.

I've found the pursuit of positive thinking to be futile and not the wisest way to live.

Positive thinking is like the opium of the masses, sold as an ideal but not truly livable. I've observed that no matter where I go, when I ask people if they still experience negative thoughts, everyone raises their hand. It's delusional to think you can be a one-sided human being, or live continually in someone else's set of values.

Infatuation might make you temporarily attempt to adopt someone's values, but you'll inevitably return to your own set of values, as every decision you make is based on what you believe will offer you the greatest advantage over disadvantage to your own higher set of values.

Instead of living in a fantasy where you expect others to live in your values, it is wiser to honor each other by communicating in terms that reflect mutual respect and understanding – or each other’s highest values. This approach - communicating what you value in terms of what they value - is the key to establishing authentic relationships.

The questions I briefly outlined above are just a few of those in the Demartini Method, a system I've been developing since I was 18 and have refined over 51 years.

This approach forms the backbone of the my signature 2-day Breakthrough Experience seminar, a program designed to save participants an enormous amount of time dealing with unnecessary emotional drama.

Those who attend learn to recognize their unrealistic expectations and how they contribute to the creation of their emotional turmoil.

As long as you cling to fantasies and hold unrealistic expectations, you will likely face the ABCDEFGHIJs of negativity. These are designed to guide you back to realistic, objective expectations based on true values and authenticity.

If you are inspired to become more authentic and learn how to master your life by mastering your mind, I invite you to join my next online seminar. The Breakthrough Experience has transformed thousands of lives, and I am certain it can help to transform yours.

To Sum Up

Embrace Negativity as Feedback: Understand that negative emotions aren't obstacles; they serve as a wise feedback mechanism to help bring you back into balance and homeostasis.

Identify Specific Causes of Negativity:

  • Ask: What specific trait, action, or inaction you perceive an individual displaying or demonstrating that you dislike or despise most?
  • Purpose: This question helps pinpoint the exact source of your negative emotions, focusing on specific behaviors rather than vague or generalized feelings.

Explore the Value of Negative Emotions:

  • Ask: How does this trait, action, or inaction serve you? What benefits are you experiencing as a result of the event you judged as negative?
  • Purpose: By reframing how you view negative traits or actions, this question encourages you to find the hidden benefits and personal growth opportunities that they present.

Actionable Insights:

  • Self-Reflection: Regularly practice these questions to enhance your self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
     
  • Personal Development: Use the insights gained from this practice to adjust your expectations and interactions, aligning them more closely with reality and personal values.
     
  • Communication Enhancement: Improve how you communicate by linking what you want to what they want so that you create a win-win.

Continuous Learning: Think about engaging in workshops or seminars such as the Breakthrough Experience so you can learn more about the Demartini Method, and begin to transform your life from the inside out.


 

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