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Imprisoned by your emotions

May 20, 2011

A Great Idea…

“Emotions, left to themselves, will dissipate…Expressed and dwelt upon, though, emotions multiply and imprison you in a vicious cycle of dealing fruitlessly with past wrongs.” (Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman in his book, Authentic Happiness, p. 70)

In Other Words…

The old advice about emotions just happens to be wrong. When people tell you to get your feelings out or they’ll blow up, don’t believe them. Many irritations can be pushed into a dark closet and will disappear over time. In contrast, when we vent our emotions, they often grow to monstrous proportions. We turn a minor irritation into a world war. For example, when we’re tired we often feel compelled to spout some complaint. If instead we set aside the irritation and wait until we’re more peaceful, we’re more likely to have a productive discussion.

How This Applies to You…

The next time someone does something that hurts or frustrates you, don’t dwell on it. Don’t pile on reasons to be mad. Set it aside. Find something more pleasant to think about. By letting go of these negative emotions you will find it much easier to forgive and reconcile.

To Find Out More …

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at

For more information on improving your strengths, we recommend Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman or Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.

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