Do you find yourself feeling anxious or dissatisfied?
These feelings can arise when life is challenging, but they can also happen when you seem to “have it all.” Having a variety of emotions including what you might consider “negative” emotions are a natural and normal part of life.
In fact, emotions are a good thing! They provide information. All emotions – joy, depression, even meanness – are important and can teach you something.
Being in acceptance of your emotions and committing to a life that brings you joy helps to regulate emotions and to feel happier more often.
Even when life seems good, the question to ask is could I be happier?
A way to experience more happiness is to address a negative emotion, such as anxiety, as soon as it arises. The key is learning how to be emotionally agile which is entering and exiting emotions with skill and intentionality.
If you’re struggling with negative emotions and you notice they are getting in the way of living your best life, consider the following tips you can incorporate into your daily life easily. I’m sharing three approaches that help to process your feelings by combining positive psychology and neuroscience to improve your emotional agility.
Please keep these principles in mind as you leverage each approach:
- The emotions you’re experiencing will ALL pass – the pleasant ones and the not so pleasant ones.
- Every emotion is valid, useful, and could be used to help you learn something.
- Feel your feelings and process your emotions. The problem is when you don’t, and then you extend that emotion into a mood.
- Emotions are predispositions to actions. With a greater awareness of your emotions, you’ll be able to determine if you want to keep or let go of the emotion. If you want to let go of the current emotion, you can then pick a new emotion. With that new emotion comes new ways to behave, act, and think.
Start by preparing as follows:
- Set an intention to be loving and gentle with yourself
- Remember negative feelings will always arise
- Don’t let judgment creep into evaluating your feelings
- Remain as objective as possible
This approach allows you to process your emotions quickly and in the moment. Your body doesn’t lie. Tuning into your body and what you’re experiencing in your body can help you connect with the emotion you’re feeling.
The Guilt of Happiness
- Notice and name the emotion you’re feeling in the moment.
- Breathe – fastest way to interrupt it.
- Change your body (i.e., your posture) – just pick a different pose/stance.
- Put a smile or frown on your face. Try it!
With each shift, you will release chemicals in your body that lead to experiencing a more positive emotion such as testosterone for more confidence or serotonin and dopamine to feel happier.
This approach helps you leverage your body to gain insights. You’ll connect deeply with an emotion you’re experiencing, dissipate its energy, and uncover a more empowering emotion, thought, or action.
by repressing them we become literal, reformatory and holier-than-thou;
encouraged, they perfume life; discouraged, they poison it.”
– Joseph Collins
- Ask yourself a question about a difficult situation you’re experiencing and see what comes up for you by doing the following exercise:
- Close your eyes, breath, and notice where your attention goes in your body. It can be a pain or discomfort or not a big hit. Don’t over think it.
- Explore this place (in your body) as if you were going in there and describe it in as much detail as you can – color, smell, tactile, light or not, temperature, sticky or not. (Spend as much time here as you can.)
- What is the feeling? Are you mad, sad, glad, scared, happy and then move on after you figure it out.
- If this part of your body could talk to you, what would it say? Then just wait, stay unattached. It might not work at first – – especially if you are not used to it.
- When you get the message and if it sounds like a gremlin (with “shoulds”), you’ll know it. If the message is short and loving, then you’re connected to your truth!
- What type of situation or person upsets you?
- E.g., People with a big personality (or cut off/unaware people who don’t listen).
- What is a thought you have that might not be true?
- E.g., I don’t think there is a way to communicate with them.
- How do you respond in these types of situations or with these types of people?
- E.g., Shut down and pout.
- What is a more empowering belief or empowering perspective to take?
- E.g., If I think it’s worthwhile to express my opinion, I will (whether or not my message will be fully received). OR, I accept this person for who he/she is and will expend my energy sharing my message with people I can collaborate with or impact.
Take the message you identify and use it to inspire your next step.
This approach includes a framework for exploring what triggers your emotion, how you automatically react, and how to transform the energy. I explain each section and then use information from a client as an example in each area of the framework.
take the time to ask, ‘What else could this mean?'”
– Shannon L. Alder
My False Assumption
My Automatic Reaction:
New (Empowering) Belief/Action:
This approach can also be done as a pre-emptive measure to heighten your awareness of existing emotional triggers.
I invite you to approach your emotional life with a fresh perspective and feel comfort in knowing you’ll be ok no matter what!
This new way of living will set the stage for you to feel calmer and happier immediately which can lead to better results. Research (as revealed in The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life) shows that when you feel better in life, you’ll be more present, creative and flexible. These qualities allow you to have access to better solutions for any challenge that arises. These mini joy-filled moments add up over time having you feel happier overall.