By Emily Hauser, LMSW at Health West
There are often things in our lives that we want to get rid of. Not just those socks that you can’t ever find mates for or the toy your dog ripped that keeps leaving stuffing everywhere. Rather, there are things like difficult feelings we want to push away, avoid, or get rid. These feelings could include sadness, anger, stress, guilt, fear of the future, insecurity, and so on. But rarely does trying to push away these feelings ever truly work.
When trying to push out the negative feelings, we unconsciously begin to give them power by giving them our attention and take away from being able to enjoy the positive feelings. All our focus is on “I don’t want to feel this way” or “this is a terrible feeling”. The focus on these difficult feelings can also lead to them manifesting as physical symptoms such as headache, stomachache, nausea, increased heart rate, and shallow breathing.
But difficult feelings are simply part of the human experience. And while we do have to feel them, we don’t have to let them take over our days, weeks, or lives. Sometimes, we simply need to acknowledge those difficult feelings, take a few deep breaths, perhaps put a name to it and say things like:
● “Okay, right now I’m feeling stressed/vulnerable/emotional/ and that’s okay.”
● “What’s something positive or compassionate I can do for myself so that this feeling doesn’t take over my day or control my actions/reactions?”
● “Right now, I’m having the thought that things are going to be like this forever.”
We accept the feeling for what it is, analyze it, step back from it, and then bring in the positive. By doing so, we take away the power of that difficult feeling. Our focus can then shift to something that will relax us and bring us joy. It will also allow us to clear our minds and form thoughts and decisions not based on those overwhelming difficult emotional reactions.
Remember to be kind with yourself always. When having those unhelpful thoughts or feelings, it’s our mind’s way of trying to protect us. Don’t criticize yourself if you do become overwhelmed, gently try to redirect your thoughts and energy. Acknowledge that your mind is just trying to keep you safe and remind yourself that there is no threat.
Bringing in the positive can look different for everyone. You can surround yourself with those you love, go for a walk and take in the smells, sounds, and sights, get yourself your favorite drink, read a book or watch your favorite comfort show, call an old friend, go for a jog, etc. The idea is to do something that brings you peace. Bring in that positive feeling, take back your power.
*Emily Hauser is a LMSW currently working at Health West Chubbuck and ISU. She has experience doing crisis work, integrated care, and providing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She received her education from ISU and has deep connections to this area and loves the people and community. Emily loves being able to tend to her garden, be with her dogs and family, game, and do anything outdoors.