Coping with emotions
Sometimes emotions can feel great, but sometimes they’re uncomfortable or even painful.
Whether you’re feeling angry, sad, frustrated, lonely, or anxious, it’s important to have some healthy ways to cope with feelings that aren’t so fun.
What are emotions?
Our brain is constantly taking in information about the world around us through our senses. Things we see, hear, touch, etc., all send info to our brainstem (or survival brain).
To process this info, our brainstem is connected to and communicates with our limbic system (or emotional brain). Our emotional brain attaches emotions to the sensory info we receive.
Different emotions mean different things
Thinking about emotions
How we interpret emotions – and how we behave – is heavily influenced by what we think about them. This includes our past experiences and our beliefs about ourselves.
There are some different thinking patterns/styles that we can get stuck in – and these thinking patterns can be unhelpful for us. Here are some examples:
- All or nothing thinking. Thinking in extremes with no 'grey area', e.g. "If I don't come first place, then I'm a total loser."
- Only seeing the negatives. Filtering out or minimising the positive or ok bits and only remembering or focusing on the bad bits. E.g. "It's my fault we lost – I missed that goal in soccer!"
- Overgeneralising. Applying one outcome across all situations, e.g. "I never do well at math, I always suck!” (Using words like always, never, all and every).
- Thinking all feelings are true all of the time. E.g. "I feel this way because something bad is going to happen." All emotions are valid, but not all emotions are true.
- Jumping to conclusions. 'Mind reading', e.g. "They think I'm a loser" or 'fortune telling', e.g. "I'm going to make a fool of myself."
- Taking things personally. Blaming yourself for stuff you can't control. E.g. "It's all my fault my friend got in trouble for doing the wrong thing."
- Catastrophising. Blowing things out of proportion or thinking the worst-case scenario. E.g. "If I do badly on this assignment, I will never get my dream job."
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