You know junk food when you see it: It’s high in calories and low in nutritional benefit. A diet of junk food ends up in lethargy, being overweight, and medical issues (such as diabetes and heart disease).
But did you know there are junk emotions too?
As clinical psychologists, we wondered what would happen if we started to consider our emotions from the perspective that they are ingredients that you feed yourself. We developed the concept of psychological nutrition, not about food, but about how to assess and monitor the emotions that you consume.
Because we don’t think to monitor our consumption of emotions as we might food, we unthinkingly consume a diet so high in negative emotions (high-fat) that there’s no room left for positive emotions (low-fat).
What should we do? In order to get rid of junk emotions, we have to be mindful of the emotions we are consuming; we have to deliberately restrict our diet of high-fat emotions.
Here are five ways to get rid of junk emotions.
Lower Your Consumption of High-Fat Emotions
High-fat emotions are negative and energy draining; they suck the fun and creativity out of your life and are bad for you. Examples: guilt, resentment, anger, envy, jealousy, frustration. High-fat (or negative) emotions create and maintain a cycle of pessimism and low-energy. They are fatiguing and close the door to creativity and joy.
Increase Your Consumption of Low-Fat Emotions
Low-fat emotions are positive and increase your energy. Examples: joy, optimism, love, patience. Low-fat emotions should dominate your psychological intake. Low-fat (or positive) emotions energize you. They open up your world, both in terms of your inner self and the doors to opportunity.
Keep a Count of Your Junk Emotional Calories
Just as with junk food, a diet of junk emotions (like anger, resentment, worry) leads to psychological malnourishment. How many junk emotions are you consuming in a day?
Look at Relationships as Products
Relationships are products made up feelings. Some are nutritious, others are not. Think of how you examine the packaging of a product for its nutritional content. How many calories? Is it high-fat or low-fat? Some products may look good, but it turns out they’re not good for you. Relationships are exactly the same: Some are good for you and others are not.
Make Psychological Nutritional Labels
Just like food products have labels that describe their nutritional content, there should be “psychological nutritional labels” for reactions, relationships, and situations. In this way, you will know (or at least have a good idea) whether a situation has a “high-fat” or “low-fat” content before you enter it. Are there people or situations that should have warning labels?
Time is a finite quantity and none of us know how much of it we have left. Start each day making life as fulfilled and joyful as it can be, and build on that. Stop filling it with junk emotions!