When you’re feeling miserable, it’s the most natural thing in the world to want to wallow in your misery. Angry people do it by obsessing about what others have done to them. Sad people do it by summoning up their disappointments. Worried people do it by anguishing about the “what ifs” of life. Frustrated people do it by giving up their goals as soon as the going gets tough.
Though there is something to be said for feeling miserable from time to time (how else would you appreciate feeling great?), many people hold on to negative emotions for way too long.
They don’t just feel their emotions, they embrace them, defend them, indulge them — until these feelings morph into an identity.
The upshot? They no longer just feel angry, sad, worried or frustrated. They become people with a chip on their shoulder, despair in their heart, fear in their soul, and failure on their mind.
Don’t let this happen to you. Let go of your negative emotions by doing what doesn’t come naturally. That is, act contrary to the way you’re feeling.
When you’re feeling ticked off with someone, it’s easy to keep recalling all the affronts that you endured. Of course, you feel angry. But don’t stay angry. Instead, do something for yourself that you truly enjoy. (Remember the adage “living well is the best revenge.”)
When you’re down in the dumps, it’s easy to just hang around, feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, push yourself to do something that will lift your mood. Surround yourself with music. Dare to dance. Watch a funny movie. Walk on the beach. Contact an upbeat friend. Visit an engaging website.
When you’re anxious about the future, it’s easy to wallow in your worries about life’s insecurities. Do the opposite. Face what needs to be faced, do what needs to be done and get on with living your life. For creative ideas on how to do this, delve into my book, Master Your Fears: How to Triumph Over Your Worries and Get On With Your Life.
When you feel frustrated with the laborious work you need to do to reach your goals, it’s easy just to give up. Why keep struggling? Instead of giving in to frustration, take a short break. Remind yourself why you want to achieve this goal. Then begin again with a fresh approach. Persevere. Be smarter this time. Make a new mistake.
Edison claimed that it took him more than 1,000 tries to invent the light bulb. His attitude? He hadn’t failed. He had simply found 1,000 ways not to create a light bulb.
It undoubtedly will feel counterintuitive to act contrary to the way you feel. Yet that’s exactly what you need to do to expel the negative emotions that so easily drain your energy, your time and your life.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Oct 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Sapadin, L. (2012). Doing What Doesn’t Come Naturally. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/31/doing-what-doesnt-come-naturally/