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3 Steps To Cope With Difficult Emotions

We all experience negative emotions in our day-to-day life. You might feel sad because your friend refused to meet you when you wanted to talk to her, you might feel angry because your colleague at work takes all the credit for your work, and so on. Many such incidents happen daily that take a toll on our mental health. 

If you can cope well with these feelings, then you end up feeling good about yourself. Most of the time, our coping style is not healthy. We do not like these painful emotions of anger, hurt, sadness, and grief. So we try to numb ourselves to these hurtful emotions.

We ignore the sadness, and the hurt and instead try to do something that will temporarily make us happy. It works for the time being. However, in the long run, you have to pay the price of this habit of escaping from difficult situations. The unpleasant emotions that you try to hide or get rid of, don’t disappear if they are not expressed properly.

A healthy expression of these emotions is required to achieve peace of mind. 

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

  • Brene Brown

Here are 3 simple steps through which you can become better at managing unpleasant emotions -

STEP 1 - Acknowledge and observe your emotions: The first step in managing unpleasant emotions is to acknowledge and accept what you're feeling instead of trying to push your emotions away or pretend they don't exist.

Treat yourself with kindness and understanding when you're experiencing difficult emotions. Remember that it's okay to feel upset, and you're not alone in your struggles. Try not to judge yourself for experiencing unpleasant emotions. Instead, recognize that they are a natural part of the human experience and everyone experiences them at some point.

Instead of trying to push the emotion away or suppress it, allow yourself to fully feel it. Emotions are temporary and will eventually pass. If the feeling gets too much, practice self-care!

Learn about yourself. Understand which self-care practices work best for you. 

STEP 2 - Accept the emotion and let it go: You need to accept the hurt for what it is. As it is natural to bleed when you are cut, in the same way, it is natural to be hurt when something bad has happened to you. Without understanding or processing the hurt, don’t try to get rid of it. 

Be curious about your emotions. Sit with the painful emotions (as much as you can). Observe the thoughts that come to your mind without judging them as good or bad. Simply notice. See the narrative you have for yourself and about the situation. Be kinder to yourself. Practice a little more compassion. 

Once you have accepted the painful emotions, try to challenge the negative thoughts that come up in your mind. Maybe, you will notice that you were actually stressing over nothing and that the situation is actually not that serious. Ask yourself “What is the clear evidence that what I am thinking is true?”. This will help you distinguish between negative thoughts and reality.

STEP 3 - Seek support: We all need support from loved ones in times of distress. Talking to a trusted friend or family member about your emotions can help you to gain perspective and feel supported. You can also seek the help of a mental health professional who will provide you with a better understanding of yourself and resources to cope.

In addition to this, you can also do some exercise. Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress. Whether it's going for a run, taking a yoga class, or going for a walk in nature, physical activity can help to improve your mood and reduce unpleasant emotions.

Unpleasant emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety are a natural part of the human experience. While we can't always control what we feel, we can learn to manage these emotions in healthy ways. Remember, accepting unpleasant emotions doesn't mean that you have to like them or that they'll go away immediately. However, by practicing acceptance and using healthy coping strategies, you can learn to manage your emotions healthily.