The Leftover Pizza

Daily life Pizzazz, some nuggets, some fun

How to take control of your emotions

Copied out from wikihow. Thought it was a great checklist.

1. Know your emotions. There are a million different ways you can feel, but scientists have classified human emotions into a few basics that everyone can recognize: joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation.[1] Jealousy, for example, is a manifestation of fear – fear that you’re not “as good” as something else, fear of being abandoned because you’re not “perfect” or “the best”.

2. Recognize that emotions don’t just appear mysteriously out of nowhere. Many times, we’re at the mercy of our emotions on a subconscious level. By recognizing your emotions on a conscious level, you’re better able to control them. It’s also good to recognize an emotion from the moment it materializes, as opposed to letting it build up and intensify. The last thing you want to do is ignore or repress your feelings, because if you’re reading this, you probably know that when you do that, they tend to get worse and erupt later. Ask yourself throughout the day: “How am I feeling right now?” If you can, keep a journal.

 3. Notice what was going through your mind when the emotion appeared. Stop and analyze what you were thinking about, until you find what thought was causing that emotion. Your boss may not have made eye contact with you at lunch, for example; and without even being aware of it, the thought may have been in the back of your mind, “He’s getting ready to fire me!”
4. Write down the evidence which supports the thought that produced the emotion or against that thought. When you begin to think about it, you might realize that since nobody gets along well with this particular boss, he can’t afford to actually fire anyone, because the department is too short-staffed. For example, you may have let slip something that you should not have said which angered him, but which it is too late to retract.
5. Ask yourself, “What is another way to look at the situation that is more rational and more balanced than the way I was looking at it before?” Taking this new evidence into account, you may conclude that your job is safe, regardless of your boss’s petty annoyances, and you’re relieved of the emotion that was troubling you. If this doesn’t work, however, continue to the next step.
6. Consider your options. Now that you know what emotion you’re dealing with, think of at least two different ways you can respond. Your emotions control you when you assume there’s only one way to react, but you always have a choice. For example, if someone insults you, and you experience anger, your immediate response might be to insult them back. But no matter what the emotion, there are always at least two alternatives, and you can probably think of more:
  • Don’t react. Do nothing.
  • Do the opposite of what you would normally do.

7. Make a choice. When deciding what to do, it’s important to make sure it’s a conscious choice, not a reaction to another, competing emotion. For example, if someone insults you and you do nothing, is it your decision, or is it a response to your fear of confrontation? Here are some good reasons to act upon:

  • Principles – Who do you want to be? What are your moral principles? What do you want the outcome of this situation to be? Ultimately, which is the decision you’d be most proud of? This is where religious guidance comes into play for many people.
  • Logic – Which course of action is the most likely to result in the outcome you desire? For example, if you’re being confronted with a street fight, and you want to take the pacifist route, you can walk away–but, there’s a good chance that burly drunk will be insulted if you turn your back. Maybe it’s better to apologize and keep him talking until he calms down.

IDEAS THAT CAUSE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS

Change your perspective. The above steps show how to not let your emotions control your behavior on the spot. If you want to experience fewer negative emotions to begin with, change the way you see the world. If you learn how to be optimistic and laid back, you’ll find that negative emotions make fewer appearances to be reckoned with.

  • Eliminate many of the underlying core beliefs which give rise to your disturbing thoughts and negative emotions. There are many irrational ideas that repeatedly upset us[2] They are all false,but many of us are inclined to at least some of them part of the time. You can get rid of these ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out…
  • “I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile.” Nobody can be perfect in everythingthat we have to do in life. But if you believe that you’re a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
  • “I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me.” Sometimes you just can’t help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can’t make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
  • “When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people.” Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
  • “It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected.” Some people have such a short fuse, that they are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
  • “Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change.” Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance. You can choose whether to see yourself as an effect of your circumstances, or a cause.
  • “If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it.” Many people believe that “the work of worrying” will help to make problems go away. “Okay, that’s over. Now, what’s the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?”
  • “It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them.” Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as a basis for learning and future growth.
  • “Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future.” If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time — and sometimes they change dramatically!
  • “It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.” Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can’t predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
  • “I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes.” If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as a pathway to further growth.

IDEAS THAT MAKE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS WORSE

Learn to avoid the cognitive distortions which make things look worse than they really are. Most of us have heard the expression, “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.” But when you use cognitive distortions, you tend to look at the world through mud-colored glasses! Here are some ideas that you should stop from rolling through your head if you catch yourself thinking them…

  • All-or-nothing thinking. Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If you aren’t perfect, then you’re a failure. You procastinate doing stuff because they are not perfect until you have no other choice than doing them.
  • Overgeneralization. A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. “I didn’t get a phone call. I’ll never hear from anybody again.”
  • Mental filter. One single negative thing colors everything else. When you’re depressed, it sometimes feels like you’re “looking at the world through mud-colored glasses.”
  • Disqualifying the positive. If somebody says something good about you, it doesn’t count. But if somebody says something bad about you, you “knew it all along.”
  • Jumping to conclusions. You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
  • Mind reading. You think somebody is disrespecting you and don’t bother to check it out. You just assume that he is.
  • The Fortune Teller Error. You think that things are going to turn out badly, and convince yourself that this is already a fact.
  • Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization. Imagine that you’re looking at yourself or somebody else through a pair of binoculars. You might think that a mistake you made or somebody else’s achievement are more important than they really are. Now imagine that you’ve turned the binoculars around and you’re looking through them backwards. Something you’ve done might look less important than it really is, and somebody else’s faults might look less important than they really are.
  • Emotional reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  • Should statements. You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You “should” do this, you “must” do this, you “ought” to do this, and so on. This doesn’t make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  • Labeling and mislabeling. This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When you make a mistake, you give yourself a label, such as, “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  • Personalization. You believe that you were the cause of something bad that happened, when you really didn’t have very much to do with it. And ask a friend to help you realize your emotions or worries so that you can have someone to rely on.

Life is good

As I sat through one press conference at a five star hotel which culminated in dinner and drinks, suddenly it struck me, life is good. And I have bloody earned my way to this. If I look at myself today, I can remember that I have put in hard work, immense that too, to reach here. Sitting here today I can allow myself to be a little smug about it 🙂 There is more work ahead, but if I can make it till here, I sure can get further ahead. A friend told me recently, nothing bad is gonna happen to me, I have worked for this and if anything, I ll only be stronger. So cheers, literally, that apple vodka is hitting me now 😛

The month’s up and some random musings about family soap opera

I had given myself a month to do my best for something. Now the month is over. Though I don’t know what all happened, I feel I have given my best shot. So now, its all up to God. I can’t say how I feel right now, the hangover is not completely gone.

Time to regroup. Was just having random conversations with people about idiotic arguments that sometimes family comes up with. It was hilarious all the madness that we inflict on each other in the name of protecting the family, really. So R and I were discussing the wildest things our families must have told us to dissuade us from doing things and surprise, surprise, seems all parents are alike.

One thing I keep telling my parents is to stop watching TV soaps, no wonder their imagination runs wild. R was telling me about how once a simple incident back when R was 13 was taken to the extreme of being thought as life threatening, what it really was just an innocent teenage prank. With me, the examples are countless. Just yesterday I got told not to help a friend with their problems because that could land me in police trouble (this when my parents didn’t even know the exact trouble my friend was in). I didn’t know at that time whether to laugh or to just tear my hair out.

Parents, they all do love us, but sometimes their protectiveness can be hilarious. Especially all the time they keep worrying about us landing up in jail or kidnapped or abused by some imaginary goons (and those of you parents reading this, I am sure you are rolling your eyes and thinking of telling me wait till you become a parent yourself, that’s the n raised to infinityeth time I have heard it so go on :-P). I know they do this because they love us, but sometimes it just makes one wonder what’s the point of living if you are forever going to be scared of living. I know that they haven’t done so many things because they were just being careful. I haven’t lived that way, I would rather feel the pain or disappointment of things not working out rather than live a life wondering what could have been.

R and I had a great time yesterday laughing about how filmy our families could get, heartening to know there are others going through the same drama. When you grow up isolated and limiting your interactions to stay safe, you limit your experiences and also limit yourself from getting the feeling of brotherhood or sisterhood. And that’s when you start taking everything seriously and because you don’t know there are others going through the same shit, you tend to feel victimised as if you are the only one. So not true. And in any case, as Bugs Bunny would say, don’t take life too seriously, no one gets out alive anyways.

Where’s all the fluff?

So people have been wondering about how things are so serious over at the Pizzeria. Where’s all the fluff?

Well some of it is in this cotton ball

Some have been chasing each other so haven’t been around

Some others have been hiding away after a makeover

And finally some we caught hold of

So the fluff is back.

Letting go of the story

They say everyone has a story about themselves and of the world they inhabit. For some of us the world is a curiosity and we are forever marveling. For some its a dangerous place and we are forever scared. For some others its a chaotic place and we are forever trying to make sense.

But we also have stories about ourselves. We define ourselves by these. We may think we are victims treated unfairly. We may think we are too clever for everyone else. We may think we are weak. We may think we fall short of expectations of others. We may even think we are responsible for all the bad things around or that if only we could change things somehow.

All of these beliefs, these stories, keep us awake at night, worrying about how what we said or did under the influence of these stories affected the rest of our lives. Every once in a while, we come across someone who would challenge us and make us look at how we tell these stories about ourselves and hurt others and ourselves. This person could be a rival but most of the times is a loved one. We then step into the eternal dance of blaming ourselves, our habits, parents, God even to confirm how our stories are true. We love our stories so much that we don’t give them up even in the face of evidence. Some of these stories are passed on to us, some we develop over time.

But the thing I have realised now is these stories play out only if we believe them. Someone may accuse us or imply something about us, that hurts us only when we believe it in some part. We needn’t even have done such a thing, sometimes our own goodness or habit of giving things a benefit of doubt may make us think that’s what others thought of us. I have seen brilliant and compassionate people think that they were not doing the best they could. Probably they bought into someone else’s story about them. The key is not believe these stories. Maybe the person who said that was just momentarily upset. Maybe that person was projecting their flaws on you.

What also hurts is when your story affected someone you cared about. Its tough to forgive yourself for hurting someone. Yes, you learn for sure this time that your story about yourself was utter rubbish, but is it worth it if it comes at someone else’s cost? You cannot change what happened, you can only apologise, but you may not get restitution. Time to throw the story away totally. No story is worth hurting anyone.

You just got a magic wand. What would you do with it?

Ok this post is not my idea. It is a prompt that WordPress came up with, the moment I finished posting the previous one. I like the fact that there are these prompts. Its too cool. I chose this one because I am in the mood of some good old fashioned childish fun. So what would I do?

1. I would grow a wee bit taller lol.

2. I would do some interior decoration of my pad.

3. I would make the garden at my parents place always full of flowers.

4. I would give some sort of immunity to my family from diseases.

5. I would make some chemical change in my family and my brains so that we stayed happy no matter what.

6. I would get a magic carpet and travel the world.

7. I would get tickets for a Broadway show.

8. I would make my singing voice better.

9. I would get a great wardrobe and a house with white walls, steel and wood furniture, done up to the T in Mumbai and yes, it has to be spacious and sea facing 🙂

10. Anything else that might strike my fancy from time to time.

So what’s your list?

Choosing you

Been going through some of Natalie’s old posts at Baggage Reclaim and came over this one about overcoming the past. 

Sometimes when things go wrong, the first instinct is to blame if not anyone else, then atleast yourself. You sort of say if only I had done this or said that things would have been different. You go over and over the tape, but what you fail to recognise is that probably there was something wrong even before you did or said something.

People are going to be people. They might say or do things that you never expected. You might say or do things you never expected. But so what? Are you going to keep on blaming yourself for not knowing? No one can predict things, so it is all ok.

What I realised is that I had this tendency of not forgiving myself. Anything  I did was a huge mistake according to me. Oh no, I did this, I said that. Oh no, now I am never going to be forgiven. Oh no, how could I be so stupid. But the fact is, even if you are and if you have realised and shown remorse or taken some corrective measures, that is all you can do. The ball is no more in your court once you have done everything you could try. Then its about the situation and how it plays out. And however it plays out is not a measure of your character. Its not about you.

Limitations

Its your own mind that puts limits on you, your own feelings of insecurity or otherwise. Its you and no one else. I have been meeting people who have been showing me how much everything is dependent on what you think of it. At some level you could say I am old enough, I should really act my age. And yet I know a lot of times I don’t, atleast not in the area of responsibility or understanding. At the same time for other things, simple things like having fun, doing something unique, I suddenly start thinking I am old, I have missed the bus. Yet, I keep seeing that there are people all around who have done things long past the so called ‘acceptable’ or ‘normal’ age or even life circumstances. So what makes them do it and why don’t I? They say its all in the mind and that’s right. Fear, sadness, love, hate its all inside you. You create your own reality by thinking about it. You make it happen even if it wasn’t going that way. Its overwhelming the first time around when you realise how much your own thinking affects you and those around you. It makes you feel even more scared. Its a huge responsibility that you have to create your own life. But know what, they say you are never given something you can’t handle.

Confusion to clarity

Dear IHM’s blog has become some sort of an advice column these past few weeks and it is helping a lot of people. However I wish, she had this post about a confused youngster 2 years ago when I was going through the same situation. One of the comments by Suranga, is how I see the dark years now. I wish I could read all this advice back then and I would have been spared of the constant fights with my parents who didn’t really understand the dynamics of the world in my generation, while I kept on crying to them about it.

When things are muddled, they are very muddled. But when you gain clarity, suddenly you see how you have been contributing to your own negative feelings all this while. 2 years ago, I had just completed a couple of years as a journalist in this big vast city. It had been 4 years since I left the confines of home, wanting to do something different. In these 4 years I had been through a cosmopolitan college where I got judged because of my clothes (yes it happens) and my naivety. Looking back it was like one of those Lindsay Lohan type chick flicks, my college life, but back then it all felt very serious to me. This feeling of being disconnected remained with me even at work. At work in this metro, I was the only one left now who was from a different city, living here alone, without family. If not family, others had boyfriends or girlfriends or a huge troupe of friends. I had always had difficulty making friends, some strange feeling of otherness would make me think that no one really wanted to be friends with me. Maybe it was this thinking or maybe it was just a flawed interpretation of events, I used to be in a lot of situations where I was the one left out from some group meeting or get together. I took it all to heart.

No surprise then that the person I got involved with was someone who seemed to be struggling too. Only I didn’t know that this person was going to be abusive. When I finally got out of that relationship, I was staring at a mess called my life. My career wasn’t going the way I wanted. Love life was not up to the mark. And as I had started analysing my life, staring back at me was the imperfect relationship with my parents, the feelings I had suppressed since childhood and all the pent up anger since teenage. I wanted to quit, run away. I wanted to go back to my small town because things were so much better there. People were not so mean as they were here. But then I would be reminded of all the reasons why I left my hometown and I would feel miserable, sorry for myself.

What most of us dont realise while recovering from grief, in the initial period we start questioning everything. Everything seems wrong, everyone seems to be conspiring against us, the world seems to be unfair (which it is to some extent) and there seems to be no solution. And at the same time that we question everyone else and deride them, we hate ourselves. We think we can never do anything right, that things will remain the same, that no one cares about us so there is something deeply wrong with us.

It was during one such rant with a top management person that he calmly told me that the world is not as bad as I think it is. People are not that bad. It struck me but it wouldn’t sink in. But I remember thinking I will heed this advice. It took me some more time and meeting some new people before I realised things are not as bad as I felt they are. Even in the worst of times, something or the other was working and not just that, I was doing fine. I could have ended up as one of those eternal victims or the addicts or anything worse.

It took a lot of effort, a lot of crying, a lot of blaming to finally get tired of it all and realise that even if no one else did, I had to care for myself. I won’t say I have fully understood life, but I have realised what is important atleast. There will always be someone who seems to be doing better, but the fact is you don’t really know where are they having to work hard. At the same time there is going to be someone who is doing worse. The key is to stop feeling bad about yourself, to stop expecting perfection from yourself. Things are not perfect, they never will be. But like someone told me recently, what are you going to do about it? Cry about it or see how you can manage the bad situations and get a good enough outcome?

P.S.  I had initially thought of going into all that led happened in the last two years, who did what and how I arrived at the conclusions I have now, but then I felt, all of that happened, doesn’t really matter. Looking ahead with hope 🙂

The princess who couldn’t sleep

Remember that old story? There was this princess who couldn’t sleep. The king said whoever would be able to put her to sleep would get a grand prize and maybe even marry the princess. Many people came and tried singing lullabies, telling her stories, getting her potions etc, but no one could get her to sleep. Finally this young man came who simply rearranged her bed covers and found a pea amidst the soft cushions which was making the princess uncomfortable enough to lose sleep.

So why am I retelling this story? Since morning today, I have been getting drawn into some drama that I had thought I was long over. Its not my drama anymore, but I hadn’t counted on the fact that its manifestation even in a stranger’s life, could make me react. This could be the pea I am talking about.

But then that’s not really the case. I am not the princess here, neither am I the young man. I am that mirror in the princess’ room, the voyeur, who is just looking in. So what is the problem? Like any drama addict, I can’t seem to look away. I have to keep looking, keep analysing and try to figure things out. Only there is always something new that comes up.

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