Some people think that life coaching is all about thinking positively, and that it’s a matter of “don’t worry, be happy,” and that is part of it, but there are times when happy and being positive aren’t what we want to feel, or aren’t even appropriate. For example, when someone we love is hurting or dies, we don’t want to be happy about it.
So, what is the best thing to do when we have negative emotions? I want to talk about four things people do, and why the fourth one is the best choice.
First, we can resist negative emotions. We can push them away, bury them deep, and refuse to deal with them. Sometimes we tell ourselves we’ll deal with them later, because we don’t have time right now to feel that way. The trouble with resisting emotions is they don’t really go away. In fact, it’s like trying to hold a beach ball under the water. The longer you try, the harder it gets, and when you finally let go, the ball explodes into the air.
The second thing people do with their negative emotions is to react to them. Toddlers are really good at this one. If they’re unhappy about something, everyone knows it. They scream and cry and throw tantrums. If we’re honest, we’ll admit to throwing a few adult tantrums too. Am I right?
The third way we handle emotions is to distract ourselves. We call this buffering. We buffer by doing other activities. Common buffering activities include overeating (any fellow chocolate bingers out there?), overdrinking, Netflix binge-watching, shopping, over-working, etc. These activities have a negative net outcome and are not usually our best choice.
The fourth and best way to handle negative emotions is to allow, or process them. Like so many things, the best way around a negative emotion is through it. Instead of doing one of the first three, less healthy ways of dealing with emotions, allowing them sees them through and then they will stop coming back to haunt us. One way to allow emotions is to sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and in your mind search inside your body to detect where you can feel the emotion in you. Describe the feeling in detail, as if you were telling someone who never had a negative emotion what it is like. I might say, “When I feel disappointed, it feels like a heavy, dark weight in my stomach. It doesn’t move, and I also feel a tightness in my throat.” When we describe the feeling and sit with it for a while, it will eventually release its hold on us. I know it sounds somewhat woo woo, but try it. You just may find it helps. It helps me.
To learn more great tools for managing your thoughts and your emotions, sign up now for a free 45 minute mini-session. I can’t wait to meet you.