how to calm down and get out of your mind

mm
By: Blandine Gerber Fleury
Edited date: November 15, 2022Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Understanding emotions & feelings to help calm your mind.

Feelings and emotions intertwine as profound expressions of the human experience, but despite the terms being frequently interchanged, it’s important to remember there are distinct differences between the two.

Knowing their respective meanings, what they imply, and their influences on our behaviors and reactions can be helpful for our psychological balance. Indeed, when our brain is “overheated,” and we understand the function and the interaction of our emotions and feelings, we can do better to calm our minds.

This article aims to give you the information to better understand the subtle nuances between feelings and emotions, and the tools to help you achieve a calm and quiet mind.

What is an emotion, and what is its role?

An emotion is a brief psychological state triggered by external stimulation, captured by our five senses. Our brain, the limbic system, interprets what the senses are experiencing according to our filters and codings (our beliefs), such as fear, sadness, anger, joy, etc.

The role of an emotion is to offer information to our autonomic nervous system so that we can make decisions and act. In other words, emotion is information that helps take action.

If we use fear as am example, this is an emotion we would feel strongly during a fire. Instinctively, as soon as the fire emerges we would do everything in our power to escape the situation. Fear is the emotion giving information to the brain telling us we need to take action to get to safety.

Let’s take another example; anger. If we find ourselves in a situation with someone who is acting in a way which our brain has identified to be harmful or potentially dangerous, we may feel anger which would prompt us to take action and protect ourselves from that behaviour.

Alternatively, if we are in a state of joy, something which our inner nature is always on the search for, we would exchange smiles and laughter, possibly even using words, to take action and create bonds with those around us.

Emotion is, therefore, a transmitter of information and a motor for action, which, once its mission is accomplished, disappears to make room for feelings.

What is a feeling, and what is its role?

The cortex, not the limbic system, manages feelings which occur after interpreting situations, words, and events. As well as everything perceived and filtered by our senses, which initially generates an emotion. 

Let’s take the example of the deep sadness that a person would feel when their spouse announces that they are leaving.

This emotion will last as long as it takes for a reaction to occur, or for an action or decision to be taken (slamming the door, running to a friend’s house, taking a melatonin pill or a Xanax, etc.). After that, it will give way to many feelings generated by a thought:

  • Thought: He left me for another. Feeling: depressed, resentful.
  • Thought: He doesn’t love me anymore. Feeling: Vulnerability, lonely.
  • Thought: He doesn’t realize the harm he is doing to me. Feeling: Bitterness, incomprehension.
  • Thought: What would I become without him? Feeling: Despair, anxiety.

A feeling is, therefore, the expression. The manifestation of a thought associated with a past emotion, itself linked to a revolute event. 

In other words, feelings are the product of our mind being triggered by our emotional states (negative and positive). We amplify them unintentionally which makes them even more real, and often extremely intense.

How to calm your mind to find peace?

When we find ourselves in a negative emotional spiral, even if we can’t change the situation, we can act on our feelings and control our emotions when they first appear.


We can do this by questioning the thoughts which are occurring as a result of the emotion, and focusing on the evidence and justification telling us what an appropriate reaction would be.

Here are a few tips to achieve this mastery:

Settle down and focus on yourself

To free yourself from incipient thoughts, try shifting your focus to your breathing or one of your senses, perhaps sound, and concentrate all of your attention on it.

Meditation helps bring the mind back to the present moment.

Avoid vocabulary that stimulates the mind.

In other words, avoid words that question, such as whowhywhenand how; they stimulate thoughts and exalt feelings.

Rather than asking questions repeatedly, let the answers come in their own time.

Bring thoughts back into the present moment.

Contrary to our wandering thoughts, our body is always present in the moment. Here and now, where the calm and serenity of the moment prevail.

We should bring our thoughts into the place where there is no question of yesterday or tomorrow. When faced with a difficult situation, these thoughts only bring about feelings such as stress, anxiety, regret etc.

Disassociate ourselves from our thoughts.

Despite Descartes’ famous Cogito, which marks our unconscious (I think; therefore I am), we must understand that we are not our thoughts but the consciousness which observes them.

And that integrating belief this allows us to distance ourselves from them and what they are telling us. This position of witnessing as an observer instantly calms the mind.

Conclusion

Our peace is at the mercy of our minds; it depends on our beliefs and formatting, some of which generate negative emotions and feelings. Put simply, our calmness is the business of our brain, which uses our well-honed programs to perfection, but which we can modify. 

This reading will certainly have stimulated your cortex and, I hope, given you the potential to be able to control your thoughts to calm your mind and improve your communication with others.

Understanding the role of emotions and the mental origin of feelings allows us to apprehend from a different angle our relationships with others and with ourselves.

I wish your mind the calm you need to live serenely and in peace.