If you’re in a rut of feeling bad, the prospect of feeling good all the time might be intimidating. So intimidating, in fact, that you might very well avoid positive feelings altogether and continue feeling rejected.
One study published in Journal of Psychosomatic Research suggested that a primary cause of depression was the act of suppressing positive feelings. The positive feelings were there. People just found ways to avoid them.
The primary cause of depression is the act of suppressing positive feelings.
If this is you, there may be no more important goal than to learn to embrace positive feelings. After all, what are your goals in life if they don’t involve feeling good?
So, imagine feeling your best every single day. What would happen?
Here are some common responses from people in a rut of feeling rejected:
People will expect too much of me.
I’ll be setting myself up for bad news and disappointment.
It would never last, so why bother?
I don’t deserve to feel that good.
That’s pollyanna – not how the real world works.
It doesn’t feel like me.
And thus we talk ourselves right out of feeling good. It’s a form of self-sabotage.
Such self-talk can be such a habit that you’ll actually need to train yourself to tolerate feeling good! If that’s what you need to do, then do it. The following steps will help you along the way.
This is a pattern – a habit – of avoiding positive feelings. See it as a pattern. In order to do reduce feeling rejected, take a mental step back and consider several examples of the pattern over time. The first step to breaking a pattern is to know it is there.
When you want to unlearn a habit, sometimes it helps to identify how you learned it in the first place. Where and when did you learn to avoid positive feelings? Was modeled this behavior for you? Have you ever suffered because you expressed positive feelings?
Chances are that regardless of when and how you learned this pattern, it is no longer appropriate for you, right? This is important to understand as you move forward.
You need to counteract any of the negative messages above by reassuring yourself. Here are some examples of how to counteract the above-mentioned negative self-talk.
Negative: People will expect too much of me.
Counter: I can manage expectations as they arise.
Negative: I’ll be setting myself up for bad news and disappointment.
Counter: Bad news may come, but I can handle it. Until then, it is ok to enjoy myself.
Negative: It would never last, so why bother?
Counter: Positive experiences can last and often do last. I can support myself.
Negative: I don’t deserve to feel that good.
Counter: Good feelings are a natural part of my mind and body. They’re part of life and part of me.
Negative: That’s pollyanna – not how the real world works.
Counter: I can allow positive feelings to be a part of my real world.
Negative: It doesn’t feel like me.
Counter: I am learning to enjoy positive feelings and identify with them, bit by bit.
You’re in training now. You’ve identified a pattern and are beginning to reverse it. If you’ve been in the habit of avoiding positive feelings to keep feeling rejected, then it may take some time to retrain yourself. However, you’ll get better and better at this. Be patient with yourself as you learn these new skills.
Don’t expect perfection. Both positive and negative feelings are inevitable. All of us experience a range of emotion and not every day is full of bliss. Don’t expect it to be. Just keep working at and your practice of feeling good will develop.
In three months, you’ll consistently feel better than today. In a year, you’ll be much further along than you can imagine. Just keep going in the right direction!
Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center, which offers online training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, as well as personal development courses. Mike also authored Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage.