Positive thinking has a lot to answer for!
All of these feelings are perfectly normal and everyone feels them at some point, even if they look like they are happy all the time. I think one of the reasons mental health problems are increasing is because we get so fed up with people telling us to "think positively and it will all get better", that we stop letting our friends and family see how we are really feeling. We hide it. We suffer in silence. We create our 'happy face', the persona we show the world.
It’s important to acknowledge our feelings and understand that these types of feelings are not bad. They are just feelings. They are not good or bad. Just accept them. Just don't sit down and have a pity party with them.
There are often obvious reasons for feeling down - life can be tough, especially when you are growing up. And sometimes there isn't an obvious reason, We just feel rubbish. About ourselves and about life in general. When we acknowledge and accept our feelings, they often pass on their own, without any kind of intervention.
But sometimes they don't. They persist, They become a habit. And before we know it, we are having far more bad days than good. When we are feeling low or anxious, it is common to have automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). These unhelpful thoughts are subtle, sneaky and can pop into our minds without any effort.
On the flip side, improving in one will also impact the others in a positive way.
-Gaining control of your thinking and recognising your "thought traps", will make you feel better and more motivated to take action.
-Taking positive action when you don''t really feel like it, will make you feel more positive, which leads to more positive self-talk.
-Watching funny films or videos or listening to upbeat music can change your mood, leading to more positive thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes our feelings can be our bodies internal early warning signal that something maybe not quite right and needs dealing with.
Try the following little exercise to help you acknowledge, accept and move on from negative feelings:
Ask yourself what you are angry, frustrated, annoyed, upset or sad about.
Try and isolate what may be triggering you. Sometimes it is easy to feel angry at everything and everyone, when really, it’s only one thing it particular that is making you angry.
If you can identify what is triggering you, ask yourself the following questions.
o What can I do to improve this situation? Who can I talk to about this?
o Ask yourself if getting angry or upset going to improve the situation or make it worse?
o Could you choose a more helpful emotion? Could you choose to let it go? Could you choose a different response?
The Event (or situation or person) + your Response (your reaction) = The Outcome
The only thing we have control of in this formula is our response. Often, we can’t control the situation or other people but we CAN control our response. By changing our response we can often change the outcome.
Allowing ourselves to get upset or angry about things we can’t change is a waste of time and energy.
Instead, we can accept our emotions and feelings, change the situation if we can or simply choose a different response.
A friend says something that upsets you. You fly off the handle and get mad or upset. The more you think about it or talk about it, the more upset you get. You build it up into something bigger in your mind. You are hurt and angry, so you are mean or hurtful to your friend. Now you are not talking to each other so you are mad at everyone.
Your friend says something that upsets you. You take a deep breath and ask yourself what could have happened to make your friend say that. You ask yourself if you are sure your friend meant to upset you or could it be a misunderstanding? You ask your friend if everything is OK? You find out that they have just had some really bad news. They apologise for upsetting you. Everything is fine.
Take a deep breath before reacting and ask yourself - ‘is this the best way to handle this?’
There may be a better way to handle it that doesn’t involve you getting upset.
Close your eyes and recognise where in your body you feel the emotion. Perhaps it is in your stomach, your heart, your shoulders, your throat or your head? What does it feel like? Is it heavy and dense or fluttery like butterflies? Perhaps it feels like a dull pain or a tight knot? We all feel emotions differently so maybe you feel something completely different? If it had a shape and a colour, what would it look like?
Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, imagine yourself breathing into the emotion, softening it and dissolving it. Imagine it melting like an ice cube. Imagine it flowing out of your body. Do this for a few breaths and notice how the emotion starts to disperse and fade away.
You can also check out the HappiTapping video and the Relax audio to help you release emotions.
To your Happiness
Jo Richings xx