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How to manage your emotions at work

It’s natural for you to feel angry or sad at different times and sometimes for no reason whatsoever. No amount of positive thinking will keep you from these occasional feelings, and though they may not last long, they can lead to trouble at work. When you experience instinctive emotions that are toxic, they may not only have detrimental effects on your health, they can also impair your ability to perform on the job.

Upset woman at work

Negative emotions can linger all day long

When you become upset during an argument and remain upset long after the exchange is over, it’s a sure sign that you’re experiencing an instinctual emotion. When overcome with this kind of emotion, you walk around angry without knowing why; you’re rude to those around you; someone stops you to ask you a question and you nearly bite off their head for no reason at all. Not a great way to get through your work day.

Toxic emotions are hard-wired in your brain

Instinctual emotions are produced by ancient survival instincts – often coupled with old memories of trauma – that are wired into our brain. Toxic emotions of fear, sorrow, envy and anger — which are often passionate, sometimes even violent, and always draining — are never experiences only about the present moment.

The dangers of destructive emotions

These toxic emotions dredge up stories from your childhood that are superimposed onto the current moment. These toxic neural networks may not only cause you to waste precious years in an unfulfilling and frustrating job, but they can be very destructive to your brain health and can have long-term negative physical and emotional consequences.

It’s time to create new neural networks

Each time a situation reminds you of an actual fearful or dangerous experience from your past and those instinctual emotions rise to the surface, that specific neural network is reinforced. These networks also give rise to emotions, then beliefs, that keep you favoring past pain. They can also cause unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors that continually reinforce the trauma — for example, you might have a terrific career opportunity that collapses because deep down you believe you are not worthy. These toxic networks react with just the perception of a threat because the story is stored in your mind.

How to overcome toxic emotions

1Reset your mindset

You can allow yourself to see the world in a new light. With focused attention, you can change your thoughts to make a positive improvement in your life. Set a goal to stop feeding the old circuitry that reinforces your fears and anger and, instead, direct your attention toward new, positive neural connections. When you do this, your brain will stop using the old emotional (suffering) networks and they will fall by the wayside.

2Use your imagination

And it gets better! Research now demonstrates that if you merely imagine yourself engaging in an activity, you can create the neural connections associated with learning it – without actually performing it. Focus attention on positive emotions to create functional networks for well-being, happiness, trust and compassion. It will make your work day more enjoyable and will also improve the quality of your life.

3Create a still mind

Learn to meditate – take 10 minutes during your work day to calm your mind. Research shows meditation not only changes the structure of your brain but helps you create and express emotions in a more positive manner.

Take care of your brain health

Using the above exercises to overcome toxic emotions can allow you to create a work situation that energizes you. It is important to know that your brain health is not just what you think — it’s also affected by your lifestyle, and what you do.

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