sexta-feira, agosto 14, 2009

Bad Emotional Habits and How to Break Them

©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Editors’ note: The following is adapted, with her permission, from Donna’s The Moon in Your Life, published by RedWheel/Weiser and now out of print. Used copies can still be obtained through

Some folks aren’t happy unless they’re sad. Others need anger to keep them pumped up. For some people, dwelling on self‑pity or victimization become well‑worn grooves that occupy an emptiness they would not otherwise know how to fill. Here I’m talking about the feeling tone that typifies each of us. “Delores is always depressed. What a sad sack!” “Bob would rather bite your head off than say hello. He’s always in a foul mood.”

Although a broad range of emotions is possible, most of us experience and express a very narrow range. Many negative emotions that torment us persistently are bad habits we learned very early. We are no longer conscious of why they arose, so these tapes switch on automatically in stressful situations. In a crisis, we play the same tapes, only louder. Your own habits may not be so extreme, but most of us have a small repertoire of feelings that get triggered repeatedly. Here are some techniques that can help you stop falling into negative patterns, along with flower essences to help shed these habits.

The Habit of Worry: I once kept a worry box. Each time I was consumed with anxiety about some situation, I wrote it on a piece of paper. I prayed over it and dropped it into the box, making a conscious effort to let go of the fear. At the end of six weeks, I opened the box and read the slips. Out of 26 worries that had been my total reality for hours or days, only one had happened. The other 25 were dimly remembered figments of my imagination. This exercise gave me a new perspective on my anxieties. After that, I was much more able to say a prayer and let go of the fear. (Bach’s White Chestnut is helpful for worry, while Aspen is for anxiety.)

The Habit of Self‑Pity: Self‑pity is different from honest pain about your life situation. Poor‑meism is a set up for self-indulgent behavior that ultimately becomes destructive. One way out is to stop believing you’re a victim. Find out whether you’ve created your own painful reality and allowed people to victimize you. Working your way out of such situations would be important for your general well being. (Bach’s Centaury is very helpful for those who allow others to take advantage. )

Making a list each day of the things you’re grateful for is a constructive habit to offset self‑pity. At first you may not be able to think of any, but the habit of a gratitude list is a great uplift. Another excellent way to combat it is to spend time doing something for someone who’s even worse off than you are. (Bach’s Heather can help the pattern.)

The Habit of Guilt: Many of us live in a pervasive aura of worthlessness with nothing concrete to justify it. We might see this situation with a strongly Plutonian person. The gnawing guilt, no longer consciously attached to any particular misdeed, becomes a way of life. It’s there, waiting to fasten onto some current misdemeanor and magnify it. “I shouldn’t have snapped at John. I feel so guilty.” “Why didn’t I offer to drive her home? That was selfish.” If no current transgression can be found, the person who is dogged with guilt can drag something out of the past to chew over. (This type would benefit greatly from a few months of taking Bach’s Pine.)

Chances are, you’ll discover along the way that you’re not such a terrible person after all, that you acted out of immaturity and ignorance, and that you’ve grown enough not to make those mistakes again. Ask whatever form of deity you believe in to forgive you‑‑even if you don’t believe, pretend and do it anyway. Most important, work on forgiving yourself. (Alaskan Flower Essences’ Mountain Wormwood and Alpine Azalea can help you come to self-forgiveness.) After these exercises, we experience a karmic clearing so we no longer carry such a load of guilt or unworthiness.

The Habit of Negativity: This habit casts a cloud over your every thought and paralyzes your efforts to have a better life. We create our own reality by our thought patterns. For instance, if you believe you won’t get the job you’re applying for, you will behave in such a self‑deprecating way that prospective employers will think twice about hiring you. Metaphysical studies can help substitute positive thoughts for negative ones. Delete words like CAN’T from your vocabulary. (The word WON’T is often closer to the truth.) You will need to work consistently on your thoughts if you wish to overcome a lifetime of negative programming from your parents and culture. (Pegasus’ Pennyroyal and Bach’s Larch are helpful here.)
There are other emotional bad habits. You may have some we’ve discussed and some that are your own personal brand. Coming to see them as the bad habits they are, rather than the gospel truth about your life, is a step toward changing them. With work, bad habits can be broken and positive new ones established. When the old tape starts playing, stop it sharply by saying, “NO! That’s not the truth! I deserve better than that!” Become aware of emotions you were conditioned to feel, like hopelessness or self‑flagellation, and look beyond them to your real feelings.

Let’s be clear that the remedies do not take feelings away. They are not liquid Prozac. They help you become aware of your true feelings and work through them more quickly, neither stuffing nor holding onto them. For instance, remedies for grief, such as Hackberry by Desert Alchemy or Bleeding Heart by the Flower Essence Society, will not take away your grief. However, they will help you work through bereavement without either getting stuck in any of the stages or freezing the grief, only to have to confront it years later. They also help resolve difficult emotions and experiences in a healthy and frequently spiritual way. The remedies help you come to terms with that death. You may become willing to let go of the person, so you both can continue in your evolution.

Astrology Lovers: See a related article on Donna’s blog, Skywriter: The Moon Signs and their Emotional Habits

About the Author: Donna Cunningham is an internationally-respected author of books, articles, and columns about astrology, flower essences and other metaphysical topics. Her insights reflect her dual background in astrology and psychotherapy. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University and over 40 years of experience. Her ebooks–including one on essences–can be found at Moon Maven Publications ( Visit her blog at For the past 11 years, she has co-created Vibration Magazine and Blog with Deborah Bier.

Art Credit: The lovely and vibrant dahlia photos come from Lynne Herlacher out of her own garden. Lynne and her friend Linda maintain, a website about garage, estate, and rummage sales in and around Portland, OR. See it at


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