How to properly deal with painful or unpleasant emotions?

Tips to channel emotions appropriately when they make us have a bad time.

There are those who assume that the perfect human being is the one who is guided mainly through rationality and logic. In fact, there are not a few philosophers who over the centuries have seen emotions as an obstacle that prevents us from living in a totally virtuous way; as if getting excited and experiencing intense feelings were just a distortion of our ability to understand our surroundings.

However, today Psychology and behavioral sciences, in general, have already developed enough to make us understand that emotions are part of what allows us to adapt to the challenges and difficulties of everyday life and that they normally play in our favor. Now, that does not mean that we cannot learn to take advantage of its beneficial aspects and mitigate its effects when they play against us. Therefore, in this article, you will find some tips to adequately deal with painful emotions when they become too encrusted in your way of thinking or reduce your ability to find solutions to your problems.

How to properly deal with painful or unpleasant emotions?

What are negative emotions really?

Normally, the term “negative emotions” refers to those emotions that produce discomfort in us in the immediate moment in which they emerge in us, regardless of whether in the short, medium, or long term they help us to adopt an attitude or behavior patterns let them play in our favor. That is to say, that negative emotion is the one that makes us feel bad for the simple fact of feeling it, such as sadness or disgust.

Although the subjective component of negative emotions is associated with everything that we do not like, the possibility of feeling them is usually advantageous, since it allows us to learn what are the situations to which we should not expose ourselves more or the actions that we should not repeat in a given context. That is, they are part of innate psychological and biological mechanisms that allow us to correct our behavior patterns.

Now, in the same way, that some natural and normal elements of our body in the human being can give rise to diseases or unpleasant experiences in some situations, this predisposition to feel unpleasant emotions can also lead to problems or unnecessarily uncomfortable experiences or pain. That is why it is worth learning to detect these situations to better channel our emotions and feelings.

4 keys to coping well with painful emotions

As we have seen, although in most cases emotions help us, sometimes they can lead us towards problematic situations that we could have avoided, because there is no mechanism of adaptation to the environment that allows us to always “hit”. What to do to deal with emotions when they make us feel bad in a way that does not help us learn? Let’s see a summary.

1. Get used to associating the emotions you feel with words

It is not about trying to reduce all your emotions to what can be understood verbally, but about, assuming that your emotional side will always overflow the world of words, try to understand them better through them. In this way you will not fall so often into confusing some emotions with others, you will be better able to identify them, and you will be able to manage them in a more specialized way.

To achieve this there are several effective strategies; One of the most used in psychotherapy consists of filling in an emotions diary, in which you frequently write down how you feel and in what situations those emotions and feelings have arisen.

2. Learn to combat rumination with activities that stimulate you

Rumination is that tendency to turn over and over the same type of thoughts so that in the end it is the very anticipation of those thoughts that attract them to our consciousness. It is something that usually occurs with emotionally painful memories, such as when we remember a moment in which we made a fool of ourselves in front of someone important, or when we lost a pet.

To combat this dynamic of a vicious circle, it is best not to try to block these thoughts, but to direct our attention towards activities that stimulate us psychologically. In this way, our consciousness will be “on track” by a totally different route that will catch our attention for the time necessary to weaken rumination.

3. Structure your activities with a schedule

If in your day-to-day you expose yourself a lot to those situations in which you do not know what to do, it is more likely that you end up attracting one and another to see those painful emotions that have been affecting you. Therefore, it is advisable to plan in advance how your day will be structured, what will be the sequence of activities that you will carry out.

4. Apply relaxation techniques

Those unpleasant emotions that are linked to stress and anxiety can be managed through relaxation techniques (such as controlled breathing or Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation). These will allow you to return to a state of normal brain activity and prevent those situations in which you begin to stress due to the possibility of having stress.

How to properly deal with painful or unpleasant emotions?