Did you used to be happy, filled with positive emotions, not much got you down? Maybe. But, if you believe that negative emotions are the only ones people avoid, consider that you might be avoiding the positive ones, too.
A psychological study recently confirmed that depression is not caused by the simple presence of a negative state of mind. There is another huge, overlooked factor.
That factor is the avoidance of positive emotions that you already have.
In other words, each of us experiences natural positive emotions that want to surface every single day. Then, something mind-boggling happens.
When the positive emotions start to rise, they get repressed!
Here is the scenario:
Let’s say you cook eggs that turn out beautifully. And you feel a subtle desire to celebrate this tiny success by feeling great. As that feeling of personal joy begins to surface, you hear a negative voice in your head that says:
Don’t be an idiot. They’re just eggs.
Go ahead, make a fool out yourself – you’re pathetic.
Careful now, if you start to feel great, you might lose control of yourself.
Yeah, but something crappy is going to happen real soon!
Hey! Grow up, would ya?
And good-bye to feeling good.
Life is far from perfect, yet there are still so many things to feel great about. Why don’t we go there more of the time? Why do we avoid our positive emotions as if they were some sort of disease?
Negative psychological attachments are the best explanation I’ve ever heard of. Yet, let’s skip over “why” and get right to the ways you can bring back the feel good into your life.
1. Realize What You’re Doing
Get off autopilot and realize that you are talking yourself out of feeling good. Become aware of the negative voices in your head – don’t fight them – just thank them for whatever they are concerned about and quietly invite that good feeling to return.
It may take some practice, but it can work. When you understand that you are pushing something away, it is easier to stop pushing.
If the negative voices are persistent, then you’ve got an obstacle to deal with, that’s all. You can learn to handle them.
Watch this free video on self-talk.
2. Step Into It
There are two ways to experience anything. 1) We can be fully immersed; seeing, hearing and feeling with full presence. Or 2) We can take an observer perspective – more detached as if watching our experience on a movie screen “over there.”
Both ways have their benefits and drawbacks. When it comes to positive experiences, you’ll want to immerse yourself in them in order to enjoy them. Observing yourself having a good time leaves you feeling disconnected.
A lot of people learn early on to disconnect and watch their life go by. This can serve to avoid feeling the pain of life, but it often means you are avoiding the pleasure as well.
So, mentally and emotionally step into – immerse yourself – into positive experiences, both in the here and now as well as in your memory.
3. Find Reasons To Feel Good
If you have a hard time feeling good, then find a reason. Don’t just pretend you have a reason. Find one in the real world – and make it super easy on yourself.
For example, if you have to do the dishes, then make a deal with yourself. Say, “Self, after you do the dishes, you are going to take a deep, relaxing breath and be very pleased.”
If you have to go to work, make a similar deal. Agree with yourself that when you arrive, get things done and leave work, you’ll take a moment to congratulate yourself for being so responsible along the way.
After all, doing what we need to do every day takes energy and commitment. It fulfills valuable needs. Why don’t we give ourselves credit?
4. Learn to Take a Compliment
Do you reject compliments? There are two ways to reject a compliment – on the outside or on the inside. Of course, you can do both.
So, someone tells you that you did a great job at something.
If you do an outside rejection, then you respond by saying something like, “Oh, thanks but not really. I barely got by.”
If you do an inside rejection, you might graciously accept the compliment, but berate yourself internally. You might say something like, “Boy were they fooled. If they only knew how incompetent I am.”
Practice giving people credit for having a high opinion of you. Tell yourself, “I just got a compliment that seems sincere. Let it in…..”
If you just can’t do it, then you may have a rejection attachment.
5. Identify Your FULL ON Activity
Most of us have at least one thing we can do to feel good, without any internal backlash. Often it’s an activity that requires such focus that we don’t have the internal room to complain about ourselves. I call this a FULL ON activity.
If you don’t have one, find one! Discover an activity that you enjoy that requires all of your attention to do. For me, it’s cycling. When I’m on my bike, all of my attention must be focused externally in order to be safe.
What’s your FULL ON activity?
How Important Is This?
Studies show that happiness extends your life. Researchers at the University College of London followed more than 10,000 people ages 50 and over for more than 10 years. They reported in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) that unhappy people are three times more likely to die before their happier counterparts.
This is serious. Find a way to feel good. You can do it, because happiness is an inside-out thing and YOU can absolutely learn to control what goes on inside of you.
To learn more about how self-sabotage keeps us stuck in unhappiness and what to do about it, watch this free and enlightening video.
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