Welcome back readers,
As promised, here’s part 2 to my previous post, coping with difficult emotions. Today, I’m going to be talking a bit more in-depth about observing and describing your emotions and rethinking thoughts that feed into your emotions. This is something that I’ve been asked to work on in therapy by my one-on-one clinician (shout out to you or any of your team members if you’re reading this, by the way!)
So the first step to understanding your emotion is to stop, take a step back, and observe what is going on and what has prompted your emotion. Next, you’re going to want to take a moment to observe your thoughts and beliefs that play into the feeling. After that, make sure to make a note of how you are expressing that emotion, both sensation, and action wise, then finally after having taken a step back and mindfully observing your emotion, it’s time to try and rethink or rephrase your thoughts that are playing into your emotion.
An example from me would be how I always feel despondent. The sadness still hits me in waves and is always prompted by thinking about how I miss nursing school (which is usually triggered by seeing or doing something which reminds me of school). For me, common thoughts are that “I wasn’t good enough for nursing school,” “I didn’t have it in me to finish nursing school,” “I feel like a failure. I am a failure”, and “I shouldn’t cry over this.” For me, when I feel sad, usually I express it by crying, which leads to me feeling guilty for crying, especially if it is in front of other people.
While practicing muscle relaxation and paced breathing, I’ve been trying to rethink my negative thoughts into coping statements. I’ve been actively trying to replace non-productive thoughts with statements that will help me cope better and relieve the distress that I feel regularly. I’ve so far managed to transform the negative thought that I’ve mentioned above as “nursing school was too challenging for me, and it’s alright to change paths,” “I can spend time to find a career path that is better suited to me now,” “Other people would probably feel sad if they were experiencing the loss that you are right now. It’s okay to cry over this loss,” and “You are successful in many other aspects of life and you are blessed with skills that will allow you to be successful a different career.”
Overall since trying this coping skill, I feel like the loss has been easier to cope with and I feel more hope than I previously did.
I hope these coping strategies help you, and hope to see you back next week,