Students change negative emotions into positive thoughts for well-being
March 9, 2012
As a society, we love to know that others are looking at us, envying us, and wondering how we balance our busy lives. But when it comes down to it, the life we try to portray is rarely the life we actually live. We strive to portray an amazing life we think others will envy when in fact, there is no perfect life to be lived.
By accepting the fact that our current life is what it is, we can become more satisfied in our daily life. While it is always good to work on improving, sometimes it is more important to feel our true emotions, manage them with positive thoughts and actions, and deal with them appropriately. One portion of the front we put up involves masking our emotions. We work so hard to not show our sadness, our worries, or our stress; many perceive those emotions as making us look weak or not put together. However, there is nothing wrong with experiencing emotions that every other person on this planet feels.
While there are less appropriate times to fully express ourselves, there is rarely a wrong time to be genuine. Denying emotions creates a harmful cycle. Additionally, trying to maintain a façade of strength and togetherness is almost always more exhausting and detrimental than it is worth. Instead of masking emotions, coping with them in healthy ways and working to lessen the intensity of such emotions is ideal. An easy way this can be done is by changing the thoughts that cause or intensify the emotions and altering the actions that create such thoughts.
Negative thoughts must be changed into positive ones (switch “I hate my body,” to “I’m grateful for my body,”) and if possible, follow the thoughts by positive actions (such as exercise or a healthy snack). If a negative thought is consistently replaced by a positive one, it will slowly lose its power and frequency of occurrence. Adding a positive action can help speed the process along because it helps prevent the negative thought in the first place.
In addition to proper thoughts and actions, emotions need to be dealt with in an appropriate manner. When something specific is upsetting, do not generalize that emotion to every aspect of your life. Instead, recognize why you feel that emotion, and deal with it in its specific context; do not allow it to spread and infest other thoughts and actions.
For example, if you are upset that you did not receive a scholarship, feel the sadness only for that particular instance, do not claim that you did not receive it because you are a worthless person or will never accomplish anything. These generalizations make you feel worse about the rest of your life and make it more difficult to move on.
The thought process change and emotion checks feel rather awkward. It is difficult to reframe your way of thinking, especially if those thoughts are strongly believed. It seems pointless, but in fact, changing smaller thoughts can lead to changing the way you view your life and the world in general. By learning to go easy on yourself through keeping negative thoughts and emotions in check, you can lead a much more enjoyable life.
Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.