Sure, opposable thumbs and being ability to sit upright makes humans unique. But, do you wonder, if there is something else that truly sets us apart from other species?
Humans are able to feel. Although extensive research in the field of neuroscience has arrived at the conclusion that animals, too, experience emotions, we alone are capable of governing our emotions and guiding our behaviors following them. Animal emotions are wired for survival whereas, for us, it has evolved beyond that.
Experiencing emotions for us, now, is what makes life all the more worth living. The whole range of it – from sadness to joy to excitement to guilt. And to deal with our emotions, we come up with ways that each of us deems fit.
Yet, we are simply ever ready to embrace only our pleasant emotions. We do not want to experience uncomfortable emotions and would like to do away with them completely. But this cannot be done and we need to find out ways to deal with these, as well. How do we deal with our unpleasant emotions? Here are 3 general techniques to deal with unpleasant emotions.
1. Accept your uncomfortable emotions
Our range of emotions will be incomplete without uneasy ones. Your uncomfortable emotions are also a part of the human experience, and for this, you need to accept them as natural and as real as they come. Allow yourself to be sad. Do not repress your emotions just because they don’t feel good. It is important for you to know your emotions and how you feel and react during each of them. Denying yourself of this experience would prevent you from working out healthy ways to deal with said emotions. Remember, that it’s alright to not be alright.
2. Journal your thoughts
Sometimes your emotions and your feelings may seem alien to you. Your brain may be crowded with thoughts and these are tangled up, within, obscuring your view of how you feel. You may start feeling like you don’t know how you are feeling and this can further overwhelm you. Journaling is a technique that helps with this.
When you journal you have a space to express your thoughts in an accepting environment. There’s nobody but you in this space and you do not have to be afraid of being vulnerable. You may start to discover a lot about yourself through the process. Your confusion gives way to clarity as your fluid thoughts start gaining form.
3. Engage in positive self-talk
We have countless conversations with ourselves. We spend most of our lives inside our heads. This makes it imperative that we make it a nice place to be. How we talk to ourselves and how we look at ourselves matter a lot. In a way, you are your best friend. You are always there with you. Remember that and try to be as affirmative as you can, to yourself.
5 uncomfortable emotions
Uncomfortable emotions are the ones that we would not like to go through or experience. We push them away or try to ignore them. Here are 5 such uncomfortable emotions that we encounter regularly – Anger, Sadness, Guilt, Embarrassment, Hurt/Pain. Following are suggested methods of how you can deal with them.
It is normal to feel your anger flaring up when you feel your needs or your wants have been compromised. You feel as if the other person didn’t do right by you. And suddenly you are seething, your blood boiling and you may want to attack or break something. Trust me, that will never end well.
Scores of real-life experiences from people only reiterate how acting on your emotions, without a second thought, is more often than not, a stupid decision. You are likely to regret what you do when you are at the peak of your emotions. Anger is one such emotion that gets you like that. So, when dealing with anger, be cautious not to react but to respond.
Do not give in to the urges of the moment. Put in excessive effort to keep your behavior in check. Try a technique that will calm you down. Close your eyes and restrict all movements until you feel you are back on your feet. Breathe slowly and deeply, sending a calming sensation throughout. Try counting to 10, as slow as you can, and gain your composure. Inculcating yoga or meditation as a part of your lifestyle helps in gradually managing your anger.
While anger gets you all worked up, another unpleasant emotion that you dislike, that would want you to do nothing but stay idle and sit around, is sadness. When you think of sadness, gloom accompanies it. A cloud of despair that looms over you and dampens your spirit. You are likely to feel lonely. You are likely to feel lost. It leaves you listless and with no motivation.
Here are some things you can do. Try doing something that you like or treat yourself to your favorite dessert. Try listening to music that you love and take a walk. With each step you take, you may feel like you are leaving your worries behind. Another way forward that can help is to talk to someone you trust.
Try sharing your worries and how it makes you feel. Expressing your concerns out loud is an effective outlet. You feel heard and your emotion validated.
Another emotion that is complicated but unpleasant, nevertheless, is guilt. You feel guilty when your inner moral compass feels broken. When your sense of moral right/wrong has been violated or tampered with. What makes this interesting is, it is something that stems from within. Think about guilt this way. When you experience guilt, it denotes that you feel bad about something you did, that you are owning up to it and trying to become a better person. Admitting that you feel bad is the first step.
Thus, the best way to deal with guilt is to come out and admit what you did and how it makes you feel. Voice it out and acknowledge it. Keep in mind that the past can’t be undone. Feeling guilty only gives you the space to move forward and try and make up for what you did. Think about what can be done instead of mulling over what happened.
It is possible that sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. Have you heard of the spotlight effect? It is the human tendency to overestimate the amount of attention that other people pay to us. Right after doing an embarrassing thing, we get all the more ashamed after thinking of how everyone around us watched us and is going to mock us over it.
But most often, this never happens. And over time, they probably won’t even remember it. You’ll see that people are so engrossed in their own problems and insecurities that they don’t have enough attention to spare for you.
If you feel embarrassed about something try to look at yourself and what you did from a stance that is a little less self-critical. Talk to somebody else to get an objective opinion on what you did and how embarrassing it could be.
When we feel hurt, it may feel like the end of the world. Somehow nothing we do can ever help us come out of it. But if you wish for it, you can try and turn your pain around.
This is a technique that athletes engage in when they encounter life-changing injuries. Being hurt and the pain that accompanies it isn’t seen just as an obstacle but instead is used to power the energy and motivation to work even harder and achieve even greater.
Try doing this. Harness your pain and direct it into any pursuit that you deem productive or some area where you want to get better. You cannot let one setback keep you down. For all you know, your pain may even offer a vigor that was lacking earlier within you.
Remember, being able to feel is a gift. Sometimes, we may find ourselves slipping into unhealthy coping mechanisms. Taking our unpleasant emotions out on substances or ourselves is not healthy and such destructive coping techniques don’t necessarily contribute to our growth. This may seem like the easier way out but it will cost us.
We need to remember that our unpleasant emotions are as much a part of us, as are our pleasant emotions. They are still ours and we need to own them and deal with them. No one else will. The better we learn to handle our emotions, the better we are able to take care of ourselves.
We will eventually grow to have a stronger sense of the self and carry ourselves with confidence. We sometimes are ashamed of our emotions. Expressing how you feel and talking about your feelings is seen as such a weak move. But truly, being able to do so and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the strongest thing you can do. Remember that and embrace all your emotions alike.