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Anger, fear, worry, and regret don't just feel draining--they are draining. Chronic negative emotions affect levels of important brain chemicals that in turn deepen negative moods and deplete energy levels. "There is absolute physiological proof showing that mood changes the delicate balance in the neurotransmitters," states San Francisco psychologist Matthew McKay, Ph.D., co-author of When Anger Hurts and The Self-Esteem Companion. "The result is a huge impact, not just on mood but on the experience of energy."
Anger, for example, provides a temporary boost through the release of adrenaline, but it ultimately leaves you depleted. "It wrings your body out with a brief spurt of energy," says McKay.
Similarly, everyone falls prey to fear, but some people get eaten alive by it. In her book Positive Energy, Orloff developed a seven-point plan to de-energize fear.
1. Name your fears so they can't ambush you.
2. Listen to your intuition to distinguish rational fears--which can energize you to deal with them--from irrational ones.
3. Say a prayer that your fear will be lifted. You can "pray" to whomever you want: God, a departed family member, or your guardian angel.
4. Make a gratitude list, then focus your attention on the 90 percent of your life that's working instead of the 10 percent that isn't.
5. Enjoy energetically uplifting places, such as art museums, gardens, hills with a view, or lively playgrounds.
6. Heal "energetic scars" that are fears rooted in the past. Just because your father cheated on your mother, for example, doesn't mean your husband will cheat on you.
7. Avoid absorbing other people's fears.
Some of these tactics take time. Healing energetic scars can be a process lasting years, Orloff notes, and may require professional help--though just getting the process started can give you a lift. Meanwhile, ticking through your mental "gratitude list" or saying a quick prayer can make you feel better and boost your energy instantly.
However you proceed, don't ignore your fear. Instead, acknowledge it, name it, feel it, and look at it from multiple angles. Once you see the situation for what it is rather than what you've perceived it to be (e.g., you didn't get a job because another candidate had more years of experience, not because you flubbed the interview), you can better understand your negative emotions.
"Most people are too critical of themselves," says Brantley, who is also the author of Calming Your Anxious Mind. "Treat yourself the same way you would your best friend. When you can stop and break down a cycle of criticism and reaction, a kind of space opens, and choices open. Then you can take a more effective action."
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