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You might have everything going right for you, but there are definitely going to be times when adversity strikes without a warning. No, we aren’t scaring you—that’s the reality. There will be instances in life when you will experience stress and anxiety, and we want to tell you that it is perfectly normal.
Of course, the magnitude of the experiences will vary from person to person, but what’s important to note is that one can’t escape negative emotions. In fact, there will also be times when these emotions manifest in us for no apparent reason.
Like we said, it isn’t possible to always have positive emotions, but you certainly can manage negative emotions better to stay happier. What that means is if something negative comes at you, it doesn’t mean you have to throw up your hands in despair and panic. Instead, we bring in tools to help manage the situation better.
Now that you know what we’re talking about, let’s first tell you what happens when you suppress your negative emotions. Well, if you’re raising your eyebrows, let us tell you that this is really common.
As we mentioned, most people deal with negative emotions by not dealing with it. That means they either avoid it or suppress their emotions, and that’s certainly not the right approach. Haven’t we all come across people who seem stressed and depressed, but they can’t see it in themselves? You might have tried to talk to them about it, but they do not open up. Instead, they act as if they have no problem at all. It could be that you’ve done the same.
We already know ignoring our problems won’t make them disappear, and neither will suppressing our emotions, at least in the long run. Because at the end of the day, even if you try and avoid it, you will have to face it. Plus, what really happens is that we continually worry that our attempts to suppress will fail.
Daniel Wegner and his colleagues (Wegner, Schneider, Carter, & White, 1987) directly tested whether people would be able to effectively suppress a simple thought. They asked participants in a study to not think about a white bear for five minutes, and to ring a bell in case they did. The participants were unable to suppress the thought as instructed—the white bear kept appearing in their minds, even when they were instructed to avoid thinking about it.
Moreover, we must also not try to distract ourselves from negative emotions. You might think watching your favourite show or doing something else might help, but it will only in the short-term. Sometimes, it can also lead to substance abuse and binge eating in the long run, which is why it is important to address problems right there.
Contrary to general perception, you can’t be happy at all times. A false sense of positivity is also detrimental to health, where we shame ourselves for experiencing these natural states and try to deny them or force ourselves to pretend that we feel positive, when we don’t. Instead, it is better to embrace our emotions, while engaging in activities that help us to cope better.
According to well-renowned psychologist, Ceri Sims, there’s a strategy that works well in this case. It is called TEARS of HOPE. Here’s what it means:
T – Teach and learn. What this means is to be open and self-aware, and understand your mind and body better. You must understand how they respond to stress, so that when you encounter any such situation, you are able to interpret the signals your body is sending.
E – Express and enable sensory and embodied experiences. This is all about being curious, and open to experiences that come your way, be it positive or negative.
A – Accept and befriend. It is important to focus on increasing your own self-compassion and tolerance for frustration.
R – Re-appraise and re-frame. This is so that you can develop a perspective to view things differently.
S – Social support. This is to be more self-compassionate, while you invest in relationships.
H – Hedonic well-being/happiness. According to research, there should be a 3-to-1 ratio of positive vs. negative emotions.
O – Observe and attend to things.
P – Physiology and behavioral changes. This is about focusing on self-care and breathing exercises to calm yourself down.
E – Eudaimonia. This means to strive for goals in life and a sense of authenticity.
So ladies, let those negative emotions out, because that’s how it will make you much more happier!