Learn to Embrace Difficult Emotions



Why are some people better at dealing with negative feelings?


The reason appears to be the attitude they have toward them.


Some people seem to be naturally gifted, they possess the ability to accept that negative emotions are part of life, acknowledge their presence, but do not let them define or drive their life.


These people found what is considered to be the healthiest way to deal with emotions, and even if it's not very simple, for people that are not that comfortable with their emotional world, it is, fortunately, something that can be learned.


"The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude." Dennis S. Brow


Why do some people feel more challenged than others by negative emotions?


The answer lies most of the times in one or more of the following factors:


  • Exploring emotions is not considered critical

  • Tentatively suppressing the feeling rather than exploring it

  • Feel guilty about negative emotions

  • Inability to cope with negative emotions

  • Identify themselves with the negative emotion

  • Individual personality traits

  • Life experiences


Negative emotions, like any other emotion, are part of life, and it is more helpful to accept that there is no way to avoid them. The best outcome is gained by learning how to deal with them more positively.


There are several self-help tools that can be used when struggling with uncomfortable feelings such as anger, remorse, guilt, resentment, fear, pain and others. Self-care advise, support-groups, help-lines, self-help books can all aid you toward healing. However, it is essential to remember that changing life-long learned habits requires time, patience and commitment.


If at any point, you struggle to reach your goal, remind yourself that what is happening didn't appear suddenly, but it is most likely something that has been neglected for quite some time. Now, this needs your attention and will take a certain amount of time to heal. If the task still seems to be too hard to accomplish by yourself, ask a therapist for support.

When it comes to therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy shows a very interesting approach to deal with unwelcomed emotions.


The principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are:


  • Acceptance: the choice to accept what is making you struggle as part of life, whether it be a thought or a feeling. Acceptance is not the aim of the therapy but facilitates a positive outcome.

  • Cognitive Defusion: to better understand how cognitive defusion works, hold both your hand very close in front of your face. If you open your eyes, almost all you can see are your hands. If you distance your hands 10 cm from each other, you still see your hands, but you can also see everything else is surrounding you. Now think of your hands as the problem you are experiencing. If you move your problem on the side, it will be still there but not blinding or blocking you from everything else.

  • Being Present: be aware of what is happening around you. No matter if you are in a room or outdoor, notice things you usually miss or give just for granted and try to see them under different perspectives.

  • Self as Context: you are not your thoughts, you are just having these thoughts. You are not the images that go through our heads. You are not your emotion; you are simply experiencing it.

  • Values: defining your values may not be the easiest task, it will take some self-exploration abilities, but they are vital to carry out all of the above points. What is important to you? Define your values and commit to them.

  • Committed Action, this is the most challenging point. You defined your values, now it becomes about living accordingly. What is the outcome you expect from this journey? Positive changes won't happen without setting the intention to commit to your values. Be flexible when it comes to adapt to future changes, show kindness and patient to yourself. ACT will help you reach your goal.


"I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values, and follow my own moral compass, then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own." Michelle Obama



Explore the links attached to this blog to broaden your understanding of ACT and self-care.

If you want to know more, feel free to contact me.

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