We have our up days and unfortunately, we have our down days.
Would you believe me if I told you that you can feel better right away on those down days?
And I don't expect you to. We've been conditioned to think there are no easy answers in life but I am confident that you'll be surprised by what you're about to learn. At least I was when I learned how simple it was to feel better immediately.
During my NLP coaching certification, one of the most useful insights was that every behavior and feeling we have exists to help us in some way.
This is easy to understand when we have positive emotions like happiness, joy, and love but how does being depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, angry and all those other negative emotions help us?
Wouldn't it better if we just got rid of those bad emotions?
It might feel better in the short-term but it would be extremely dangerous. Getting rid of negative emotions is like removing the fire alarm just because it has an annoying ring (doing what it's supposed to do) when there is a fire.
The secret is hidden in that analogy.
Your emotions are trying to tell you something and "bad" emotions are merely sending you a message that you need to pay attention. You don't get rid of the fire alarm to stop the annoying sound, you deal with the fire.
What you need to learn is the message your emotions are telling you and how to use it to find the real danger.
So how do you do that? How do you feel better right away?
Clarify the Feeling
First, clarify what you're actually feeling. If you're angry, think about the clues that tell you you're angry. Maybe it's the furrowed brow or shallow breathing. After you've clarified what you're feeling, acknowledge that your negative emotion carries a message and that what you feel is not based on the experience but how you interpret the experience. Once you identify how you feel and recognize that it is sending you a message, you need to do some more digging.
Understand the Message
Now that you acknowledge there is a message, what is it telling you?
For each emotion, the message is the same. You're like a house with many different types of alarms, a fire alarm, a carbon monoxide alarm, a radon alarm, etc. They all detect different issues that need to be handled differently but when one type of alarm rings, it is signaling the same issue.
For example, if you're angry, the message being sent is that one of your important beliefs or values is being violated by you or someone else. If you're scared, the message is that a negative consequence is about to occur.
Dig deep to learn more about the message. To help you, I am sharing The Feeling Better Cheat Sheet I created for myself as a reference any time I feel a negative emotion and want to feel better. It reminds me what the message my feelings are trying to tell me and what my next action should be to feel better. It has been a very effective tool for me and I am offering the cheat sheet as a free bonus for anyone who signs up for my mailing list.
Challenge Your Beliefs
Once you know what the message is, the next step is to challenge the beliefs behind the warning message.
What beliefs allow your negative feeling to be true?
Is it possible that the assumptions behind the feeling are no longer valid?
For example, drivers who often experience road rage believe that the person cutting them off did so as a personal attack on them. If they took the time to challenge this assumption or even change the belief to think that the person cutting them off actually had to rush his pregnant wife to the hospital, they would no longer feel angry.
People often live their lives on automatic pilot and act according to how they were raised, how they were conditioned by society and how they've always acted. They no longer think about the assumptions behind their reaction and they react as soon as the stimulus is presented. Taking time to reconsider your beliefs may cause you to change how you interpret the situation.
The meaning you give to a situation will decide the feeling you will experience.
Do Something About It
If you decide your beliefs are valid and don't want to change them, then to feel better, you need to change your behavior. The key is to take action right away. After reading this article, you should be able to feel better in a matter of minutes just by changing your beliefs and/or approach.
The great news is that you've probably experienced negative emotions before where you ended up feeling better. Be fully confident in your ability to feel better. You have all the resources you need to do so and following these simple steps and using The Feeling Better Cheat Sheet, will help you turn negative emotions around.
Recognize that feeling negative emotions is not normal. You've put up with it because you didn't know how to make yourself feel better. That is no longer the case.
The fundamental steps to feeling better are:
1. Clarify the negative feeling that you are experiencing
2. Acknowledge and appreciate the message that your feeling is sending to you
3. Challenge the beliefs behind the warning message
4. If the beliefs are still valid, change your behavior to get the final outcome that you want and take action immediately.
If you get good at this, there is a chance that you will feel pretty good most of the time. For example, if you become flexible enough where you truly believe that every person has the right to their own beliefs and that all beliefs are equally valid, then you will no longer experience anger because no one will ever violate your standards.
If there is no fire, the fire alarm doesn't ring
Besides flexibility, other qualities you may want to cultivate to prevent the negative emotions are love, generosity, faith, determination, passion, health and joy.
Make the conscious decision to feel better now.
Photo by Pink Sherbert Photography
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.