Recognise when you're in emotional pain.
Physical pain is the body's way of telling us that something is wrong, and this goes for emotional pain as well. If you experienced a rejection, failure, loss or some other troubling issue that you just can't get over, then you need to pay attention to that emotional injury. Believe it or not, it won't go away if you simply ignore it. Psychological wounds often manifest themselves into physical symptoms like headaches and illnesses. Get into the habit of recognising when you've been psychologically wounded and take notice of the emotions attached to that wound. Look at the situation objectively and plan for how you can get passed or overcome the problem. Reach out to others for support and find additional ways to relieve this pain.
Be compassionate with yourself.
When addressing emotions, the first inevitable truth that you must keep in mind is that no one has ever gotten any better by punishing themselves.
When we feel low we tend to get in to a habit of self-punishment - this perceived threat stresses the body and activates our fight or flight response which in turn releases stress hormones, effectively shutting down the rational brain, and allowing the primal unconscious to assume control.
Thoughts like "I'm so stupid" or "I just can't get anything right" drag down your self-esteem and makes it more difficult to be emotionally resilient.
So when feeling bad, don’t be hard on yourself. Change what you tell yourself by substituting a negative remark with a positive - because that is the only way you can remain in control long enough to make a change.
What is self-compassion?
Self compassion involves recognising when we're stressed or struggling without being over-critical, judgemental or over-reacting
Being supportive and understanding toward ourselves when we're having a difficult time rather than being harshly self-critical
Remembering that everyone makes mistakes and goes through difficult times. We are not alone.
Don't listen to your 'gut reaction' when you fail:
Failure can often drive us to focus on what we can’t do instead of focusing on what we can. That can then make us less likely to perform at our best, which in turn makes us even more focused on your shortcomings, and on the cycle goes.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of all or nothing thinking. Basically, it’s thinking in extremes: “I’m either a success or a failure.” But of course, that’s just not true. The world is not black and white; it exists exclusively in shades of grey.
To stop this sort of negative spiral, learn to ignore the post-failure 'gut' reaction of feeling helpless and demoralised. Make a list of factors that you can control were you to try again.
When we say that we have failed, it encourages all-or-nothing thinking. The word failure implies that you have failed 100%. But no one has ever 100% failed. Just because you blew one question on an interview (and we've all done it) doesn’t mean you failed at the entire interview.
Learn to ignore that negative inner voice of helplessness and make a list of what you can control and change if you were to try again. This will reduce your feelings of powerlessness and improve your chances of future success. Persistence is the key to overcoming failure.
Distract yourself from ruminating over your problems.
Replaying negative experiences over and over in your mind is not a helpful way to heal from emotional wounds. When you replay distressing events in your mind without seeking new insight or trying to solve a problem, you’re just brooding, and that, especially when it becomes habitual, can lead to deeper emotional pain.
The best way to disrupt an unhealthy train of thought is to distract yourself by doing something positive. One thing you can do is to engage in something that requires concentration, like completing a crossword or playing a game on your phone or other electronic device. Physical exercise is another way to distract yourself from ruminating, so take a walk or run to help clear out that cluttered mind. Even just a few minutes of distraction will reduce your negative focus.
To continue to churn over emotional upsets
Break the loop
- Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful.
- Think about your problem one more time. Spot faulty thinking.
- Come to a conclusion and make a plan.
- Stick to your plan and stop thinking about your problem.
Don't let guilt drag you down.
Guilt can be useful in small doses. It alerts you to take action to mend a problem in your relationship with another person. But excessive guilt is toxic, in that it wastes your emotional and intellectual energies, distracts you from other tasks, and prevents you from enjoying life. One of the best ways to resolve lingering guilt is to offer an effective apology. If you have the opportunity to apologise, your apology should focus less on explaining why you did what you did and more on how your actions (or inactions) impacted the other person. It is much easier to forgive someone when you feel they truly understand. By apologising (even if for a second time), the other person is much more likely to convey authentic forgiveness and help your guilt dissolve.
If you don't have an opportunity to apologise then you should work hard to apply logic about the situation that caused the guilt. What are you proving by carrying guilt? You are entering into a negative situation of self punishment that will in-turn make you feel worse.
Take time to focus on yourself and learn what works for you.
Take time to learn how you deal with common emotional wounds. Do you shrug them off? Get really upset but recover quickly? Get upset and recover slowly? Supress your feelings? Use this self-analysis to help yourself understand which techniques work for you in order to get you back to feeling like your usual self. For instance, does exercise work best; maybe talking about it with friends; doing something creative; or perhaps doing something rewarding such as volunteer work? The same goes for building emotional resilience. Try out various techniques and figure out which are easiest for you to implement and which tend to be most effective for you. But mostly, get into the habit of taking note of your psychological health on a regular basis — and especially after a stressful, difficult, or emotionally painful situation.
When you begin to recognise negative situations and how you emotionally react to them you will be better able to apply remedies that will soothe emotional pain, reduce the impact of emotional blows and therefore increase your resilience.
We're here to help too
It's hard to resolve emotional or psychological problems on your own so we provide access to a wide range of courses that can give you a better understanding of yourself. More importantly, you will be 'arming' yourself with the tools required to get back to being the 'real' you.
Courses are free and are held in various locations across Bristol. There are courses on Anger Management, Panic, Low Mood, Worry, Stress, Sleep Management, Assertiveness, Anxiety Management and Emotional Management to name just a few.
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