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Maintaining Family Relationships Despite the Emotional Virus
Maintaining Family Relationships Despite the Emotional Virus

The longer the global pandemic lasts and the measures of social exclusion persist, the greater the number of divorces and partings. Self-isolation inhibits the spread of one virus, but stimulates the spread of another - the emotional one. Stoic philosophers and psychologists advise not to keep negativity in yourself, and even more so not to throw it out on others, but to try to change your attitude to what is happening and develop emotional intelligence.

The Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote his famous philosophical treatise Reflections during the pandemic of the Antonine plague that struck the Roman Empire in the 2nd century AD. e. In it, Marcus Aurelius writes that moral and emotional corruption is much more dangerous than the plague:

“… The death of the mind is more a plague than some bad mixture and the reversal of the breath poured around. For that is a plague of living beings, since they are alive, and this is a plague of people, because they are people. "

During forced isolation, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. Problems begin when a process called emotional contagion occurs. This term refers to emotions that are transmitted from one person to another, like a virus.

Let's see what the psychology and philosophy of stoicism has to offer in this situation.

How does emotional contamination destroy relationships?

Living under the additional restrictions imposed by quarantine leads to outbursts of anxiety, depression and anger; all these conditions are reflected in our loved ones.

Psychology professor at the University of Hawaii Elaine Hatfield defines emotional contamination as "the tendency to automatically copy the facial expressions, speech, posture and movements of another person, and then his emotional state."

In other words, we adopt other people's emotions. Have you ever noticed how some people, by their very appearance, destroy the joyful atmosphere in the room, while others can infect everyone around them with joy? Emotional states are highly contagious, especially anger.

If negative energy emanates from you, your partner and other people will also become infected with it. This is how relationships and families are destroyed. And when spouses, day after day, without realizing it, infect each other, their children become carriers of the virus and, growing up, pass it on to the next generation.

Positive emotions are contagious too

Fortunately, it's not just negative emotions that are contagious. As we become more cheerful, we can improve the mood of others as well. Learning to use emotional contamination to your advantage is key to building relationships that will stand the test of time. And also a guarantee that other people will enjoy our society, and not tolerate it.

But how do you learn to radiate positive emotions?

First of all, it is necessary to abandon past habits and develop emotional intelligence. Building successful relationships requires a variety of skills. One of the most important is the ability to manage your emotions.

Do not neglect the old "count to ten" method. But it is even better not to restrain emotions after they have arisen, but to try to change your thinking in order to prevent a wave of negativity. You can transform your own emotions through constant visualization practice and imagination training. Start small and work your way up to bigger problems.

The ancient Greek philosopher-stoic Epictetus and rational-emotional-behavioral therapy (REBT) unanimously say that "it is not the events that happen to us that cause us suffering, but how we perceive these events."

Yes, sometimes unpleasant things happen to us, but it doesn't have to be neurotic. You need to understand what you are able to control and what not, and make constructive decisions. Don't be afraid to communicate your feelings and ask other people to change something about your behavior. If you can't cope with your emotions on your own, you can seek professional help to cope with past traumas that still plague your life.

If someone else is the troublemaker, we must do everything in our power to influence their behavior, keeping in mind the wise words of Marcus Aurelius:

“What is wrong or strange in the fact that the ill-mannered does what the ill-mannered? Look better, don't you have to blame yourself, if you didn't expect this one to sin in this. You have been given motives from reason to understand that this one will, I suppose, make this mistake. You, forgetting about it, fall into amazement when he sinned. Especially when you blame someone for their infidelity or ingratitude, turn to yourself - here your error is so obvious, since you believed in a person with such a mental disposition that he would remain faithful …"

This does not mean that you have to blame yourself for everything. You just need to learn to take responsibility for your actions and decisions, because in the future this will help us become happier. The current crisis requires us to become the best version of ourselves and not introduce additional negativity into the world.

How to become a carrier of positive emotions

Emotional intelligence helps you advance in self-knowledge and build relationships based on trust, as well as become a more pleasant person to communicate.

Here are the facts:

We admire confident people who have a high level of self-control.

We respect people who are kind and fair, but at the same time know how to stand their ground.

We love people who want to please us, but do not need constant approval.

We are attracted to people who are not afraid to be vulnerable, but who do not pretend to be the victim.

We trust emotionally stable people, not those who can throw out some unpleasant thing at any time.

All of the above traits are characteristic of people with developed emotional intelligence. These are the people who build the strongest relationships and achieve the greatest success in love.

Until you learn to radiate positive emotions, you can use a tried and tested method: stop, count to ten, and respond more appropriately.

And when you start to get angry at the inappropriate behavior of another person, remember the words of Marcus Aurelius:

“He who does not want the bad one to sin is like the one who does not want the fig that grows on the fig tree to ooze; so that the babies do not roar and the horse does not neigh. Well, what can he do, since his condition is? Heal the condition if you are so agile."

The ability to manage your emotions has never been so important for ourselves, the people around us and the whole world as it is now. We cannot control the coronavirus pandemic, but we can stop spreading emotional viruses.

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