The Art of Neutralizing Negative Emotion

Created June 3, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Negative emotion serves one pro-survival purpose only: it galvanizes us into action as an alarm system.

Once having detected her/his own negative emotion, the sophisticated Flow state experiencer moves quickly to neutralize the negative emotion and to work rationally and dispassionately on solving the problem which caused it. Like turning off the alarm clock in the morning.

What is a sophisticated Flow state experiencer? A person who has had the benefit of learning how to perform some skill so well that they repeatedly experience the sense of autotelic behavior: behavior that appears to do itself, perfectly, and without the need to put forth any effort for that to occur.

Such a person then invariably begins to contemplate this strange experience that comes and goes and is very welcome to stay longer than it ever does.

In a way, a sophisticated Flow state experiencer is like a lucid dreamer, one who is able to know the she/he is dreaming, and therefore able to control the dreams to a greater degree than the average person. “Life is but a dream” is a line out of the children’s song Row, Row, Row Your Boat. In that metaphor, the lucid dreamer is the sophisticated Flow state experiencer in the dream level we call “real life”.

I know that negative emotion can be neutralized because I do it all the time now. I’m not sure that I can put into words the perfect instructions for how you can do this, but I’ll try.

First, why? Why would you want to learn the trick of neutralizing your own negative emotions?

One obvious answer is that you feel bad when you have negative emotions and it’s obvious that nobody would choose to feel bad when they could otherwise feel good.

Another valid answer is that negative emotions reduce our effectiveness and keep us out of higher states of consciousness, such as the Observer state and the Flow state. 

In the Observer state you can see why you have an impulse that arises in you out of your subconscious. In normal waking consciousness you would either simply act out the impulse or hesitate without knowing what to do.

In Flow state you are beyond all that, your body and mind are doing everything perfectly without any inner heckling or gloating.

Negative emotion blocks both of these higher levels of performance. It also biases choices and decisions we make rather than enable objectivity and rationality in making better decisions.

When I neutralize negative emotion one thing that happens is that I observe what is going on inside me very attentively and put aside emotion entirely. I observe emotion and therefore am not inside it anymore. There is a falling away of my historic passions and motivations into a deferred file to be resumed later. I am highly cognizant of the lack of proof for any position over any other position in terms of human values. I experience sort of an ennui, or boredom, or tiredness with everything I stand for and believe in and am trying to bring about. I have a feeling, unspoken, of something like ho hum so what. I am as if reborn tabula rasa (blank slate). I can see things in new ways I could not before. Consider possibilities I never would have considered before. I have total free will with no mortgages from the past. All of this happens in a moment.

You might try this and see if it works for you the next time that something gives you negative emotion of any kind. Anger, hate, resentment, loathing, fear, guilt, melancholy, depression, sadness, regret, physical pain, loss.

Negativity keeps us from more quickly solving the problem that caused the negativity.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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