The swing emotions are called that because they can be either extremely useful in improving your situation, or they can actually help make a bad situation even worse. The swing element comes from how you choose to make use of these emotions. Swing emotions are there to tell us that something is not right in our environment. This can mean a whole range of things. The wrongness can reside in our thoughts about a situation or in the actual situation itself.
The swing emotions are anger, frustration, and anxiety. They are similar to the high performance emotions in that they involve high levels of arousal. When you are angry, anxious, or frustrated, your thoughts tend to race faster. A key difference between the high performance emotions and the swing emotions, however, has to do with your focus. When you are angry or frustrated, your focus narrows and you become blind to other possibilities.
The key to making swing emotions work in your favor is to identify the feeling and attempt to lower your arousal levels and widen your focus. As you can see, this is where being mindful becomes extremely useful. When you focus on your breath and your level of relaxation, you tend to open up more and slow down a little, and it’s in this state of being where you can truly make the swing emotions work for you.
In the next two modules, we will examine some of the distorted thinking patterns that go along with emotions that narrow our focus, but first, something should be said specifically about the emotion of frustration. When you feel frustrated, this is a definite sign that something you are doing is not working. Because your focus is narrowed, you might even think that what you are doing is the only way to approach a problem. Here is a helpful phrase you can use to widen your focus and reframe an unsolvable problem into one with the possibility of resolution:
- The real problem is NOT ___________. The real problem is __________.
This reframing of the problem allows you to open yourself up to a new range of possible solutions.