When we are confronted with difficult emotions like anxiety, depression, stress, grief, anger, or loneliness, we are quick to search for the off-button on our emotional dashboard instead of taking in the messages they contain.Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D – The Shortest Guide to Dealing with Emotions
But emotions are not the problem. They are merely messengers. And the messages they carry deserve at least to be heard. They often contain important lessons, and can call us to helpful actions. Often they show us opportunities.
When emotions arise, you can ask yourself: “What am I feeling right now?” and “Where can I feel it?” and “What does my emotion ask me to do?” and “What does this suggest I am yearning for?”
We like feeling this way, and never want it to stop, and so we cling onto this pleasant feeling, in the hopes of never losing it. Or we detune so it won’t be noticed when it stops, as if being numb is the definition of happiness. We dislike feeling this way, so we push it away as if feelings are the enemy.
Feelings are not just about like and dislike. They are how our past and present impact us. They help train our ability to notice what is present, based on what we’ve experienced in the past.
Allowing emotions to be there when they occur, to listen closely to their message, to feel them fully with neither clinging nor needless defense, allows them to serve their proper role.
Emotion regulation is the ability to exert control over one’s own emotional state. It may involve behaviors such as rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety, hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, or focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm.Psychology Today Staff – Emotion Regulation
emotion regulation often involves what experts call “down-regulation,” or reducing the intensity of emotions. A grieving person might down-regulate his sadness by recalling something amusing. An anxious person may cope by distracting herself from the thought that is causing her anxiety. Emotion regulation can also include “up-regulation,” or amping up one’s emotions, which can be useful when an imminent danger or challenge calls for a healthy dose of anxiety or excitement.
The process model of emotion regulation proposed by psychologist James Gross emphasizes that people can act to control their emotions at different points in time—including before they feel an emotion (“antecedent-focused emotion regulation”) and after they have already begun to react emotionally (“response-focused emotion regulation”).
Emotion dysregulation is a component of certain forms of mental illness. Over time, it could have a negative impact on one’s personal well-being and social relationships.
Certain ways of regulating emotion regulation, such as regularly bottling them in, may also be associated with lower well-being and satisfaction with relationships.
A bodily component in the form of central nervous system arousal, as when you experience your heart go aflutter in the presence of a love interest or when you tremble in fear.Jeffrey S. Nevid, Ph.D., ABPP – The ABCs of Emotions
A cognitive component, which includes the subjective feeling of the emotion, which we label as fear, love, joy, anger, and so on, as well the judgments we make about our life experiences that trigger emotional reactions (back to this in a moment).
The behavioral component, the third “side” of the emotional coin, is the outward expression of an emotion in overt behavior, such as smiling when happy or approaching someone we love or moving away from a feared object or situation.
Let me explain using a simplified ABC model, as proposed by psychologist Albert Ellis. The “A” stands for an activating event that sets the stage for an emotional response. The “B” stands for beliefs or judgments we make about the event, and the “C” represents the emotional consequences, such as anger, anxiety, sadness, guilt, worry, or for positive events, perhaps joy or happiness.
The emotional consequence (C) isn’t the direct result of the A (activating event) itself, but of the exaggerated or catastrophizing way of thinking (the B) that cognitive-behavioral therapists call a cognitive distortion.
In other words, life experiences are filtered through our belief systems that, in turn, trigger our emotional responses.
In order to validate and regulate emotions, it’s necessary to be aware that you are experiencing them in the first place.Mallory Frayn Ph.D. – How to Validate Your Emotions
There are three questions you can ask yourself to prompt your awareness of emotions: What am I feeling physically? What am I thinking? What emotional label would I put on this experience?
Paying attention to physical sensations is a helpful starting point because emotions usually present themselves in our bodies to motivate us to action.
Thoughts are also helpful to attend to because they provide some context as to what your emotions are communicating to you about your needs and whether or not they are being met.
Allowing yourself to feel your feelings—to lean in, rather than lean away—can show you that you’re capable of riding the waves of emotion. Because emotions are temporary experiences, they will reduce in intensity over time. Not allowing them to run their course can in fact make them feel more intense for longer, like trying to fight the tide.
Three simple words can go a long way in working to acknowledge and validate how you feel, and they are as follows: “That makes sense.”
They are a reaction to something that is happening in our environment, a threat detection system as it were, and they don’t pop up out of nowhere.
In some cases, after being present to your feelings and allowing them to run their course, you may realize that this in and of itself was all that you needed in that moment. Other times, after the intensity of the emotion has reduced, you may want to address whatever led to the emotion in the first place.
The key here is to wait to problem-solve your way out of an emotion until you’ve actually gone through it. If you jump right into figuring out what you need to do to make it go away, you’re effectively telling yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling what you’re feeling, which is a sure-fire way to make it worse.
The benefits of reappraisal extend beyond the emotional realm. People who reappraise are less depressed, more satisfied with their lives, have higher self esteem, and greater optimism and well-being; they are also seen by others as more having closer relationships and being more likeable.Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D. – The Good and Bad of Emotion Regulation Strategies
When people are told to suppress their emotions during experiments, they express fewer negative emotions, but they still report experiencing as many negative emotions as people who aren’t told to suppress.
Although suppression doesn’t dampen people’s experience of negative emotions (just their expression of them) it does seem to have an adverse effect on people’s positive emotions.
People who suppress more also have less social support, avoid getting close to others, and are seen by peers as having fewer close relationships.
The key reason why suppression was associated with poor well-being and relationship quality? It made people feel inauthentic. Suppressing their emotions made people feel like they were holding back their true selves.
In a nutshell, “fawning” is the use of people-pleasing to diffuse conflict, feel more secure in relationships, and earn the approval of others.Sam Dylan Finch – 7 Subtle Signs Your Trauma Response Is People-Pleasing
If you’re a fawn type, you’re likely very focused on showing up in a way that makes those around you feel comfortable, and in more toxic relationships, to avoid conflict.
But the downside to this is that you’re not necessarily being your most authentic self. The more you fawn and appease others, the more likely you are to feel unknown to others, even in your close relationships.
Your catchphrase might even be something like “it’s no trouble at all, really!”
We need an outlet for our emotions, but having emotions can be sooo off-putting, right? So we unload them onto people we aren’t yet invested in, that we won’t see again, or where a safe distance (like on social media) is in place.
You might make a lot of excuses for the lousy behavior of other people, defaulting to self-blame. You might get angry, only to feel like an Actual Monster for having feelings at all five minutes later. You might even feel like you’re not “allowed” to be upset with other people.
We’re trying to anticipate someone else’s happiness, because deep down, we feel responsible for it — and are trying everything in our power to ensure that the people we care about aren’t disappointed.
This can be difficult to notice at first. You might think of yourself as being agreeable, good at compromise, easy to get along with. But if you pay attention to the conversations you’re having, you might notice you’re a little too agreeable — to the point of validating viewpoints that you don’t really, fully agree with.
Fawning often requires that we shut down emotionally. The less we have distinct feelings of our own, the easier it is to adapt to and accommodate the emotions of other people.
If we feel that “fawning” is failing us in an argument, that it won’t work with a particular person, or that we just don’t know how to please someone, we might check out emotionally, or rely on other “escapist” mechanisms so that we no longer have to engage.
It can be painful to constantly silence yourself and push your emotions away, all while working overtime to anticipate the emotions of other people.
Chronic loneliness occurs when feelings of loneliness and uncomfortable social isolation go on for a long period of time. It’s characterized by constant and unrelenting feelings of being alone, separated or divided from others, and an inability to connect on a deeper level. It can also be accompanied by deeply rooted feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem, and self-loathing.Cigna- Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Loneliness
必須説自從好幾年前那一段結束後，這種孤獨的感覺的確有越來越强烈，尤其是經過了兩年多瘟疫的煎熬。但説到第一次有這種感覺，大概就是在我人在Semenyih研究生年代，第一次分手後病到滾來滾去的那時候。那是第一次如此深刻感受到無助。在此之前，由於身邊總有朋友陪伴從來都不覺得戀愛是個必要，但搬出去大病時才覺得原來孤獨is a thing。
Inability to connect with others on a deeper, more intimate level. Maybe you have friends and family in your life, but engagement with them is at a very surface level. Your interaction doesn’t feel connected in a way that is fulfilling and this disconnection seems never ending.
No close or “best” friends. You have friends, but they are casual friends or acquaintances and you feel you can find no one who truly “gets” you.
如上，我的確不太喜歡跟太多人談太深層的事情。或許是不善於面對離別這件事情吧，從小到大每當終於get comfortable enough to跟別人開始聊比較深的事情時，那個朋友就會因爲家庭的緣故離開我的社交圈。經過幾次后，本來就比較少跟別人聊心事的我，就自然更難有這樣的朋友。
Overwhelming feeling of isolation regardless of where you are and who’s around. You can be at a party surrounded by dozens of people and, yet, you feel isolated, separate, and disengaged. At work, you may feel alienated and alone. Same on a bus, train, or walking down a busy street. It’s as if you’re in your own unbreakable bubble.
When you try to connect or reach out, it’s not reciprocated, and you’re not seen or heard.
Exhaustion and burn out when trying to engage socially. If you’re dealing with chronic loneliness, trying to engage and be social with others can leave you feeling exhausted. Continued feelings of being drained can lead to other issues like sleep problems, a weakened immune system, poor diet, and more.
Some studies even suggest that there may be a link between loneliness and an increased risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Long term feelings of loneliness and social isolation can also reduce cognitive skills, such as the ability to concentrate, make decisions, problem-solve, and even change negative self-beliefs. And it can ultimately lead to depression.
Talk to your doctor, a therapist, or another health care professional. Chronic loneliness isn’t limited to feelings of social isolation and alienation from others. It is often tied to ongoing and deeply rooted negative beliefs about yourself that can eventually lead to other medical and emotional problems. Let someone know what’s going on.
Engage with other people in a positive, healthy way. Even though it may be difficult, try making the effort to connect with others. Volunteering, hobby clubs, workout groups, and other opportunities, can help boost self-esteem and provide a safe and satisfying way to connect with others.
Get some exercise and sunlight. Getting active and out in the sunshine can help elevate endorphins and serotonin. These “brain hormones” can boost mood, help improve sleep, and make people feel happier.
Find a support group, especially if chronic loneliness is a side effect of some other issue you might be dealing with, such as substance use, loss of a loved one, loneliness from a divorce or break up, a chronic and isolating illness, etc. Receiving support and encouragement from others who may share similar feelings, could help ease symptoms of chronic loneliness.