Have you ever been in a situation where a difficult negative emotion came up and you just didn’t know exactly where it came from or what to do with it? For me, this happens regularly. In the past I just wanted to make the feeling disappear or literally hide myself from everything and everyone to make sure it couldn’t reach me any longer. I’ve since grown smarter and come up with a strategy to recover from these difficult emotions in the moment; and I even developed an acronym for it: RID (as in, get RID of the negative garbage that’s holding me back from feeling and living my best):
Recognize. First, I recognize that a negative emotion is present. I label it and identify where it is showing up in my body. Instead of ignoring it, pushing it down or reaching for something to distract me, I face it head on and feel it. I let it move through my body without reacting, just letting it be and showing myself some compassion.
Investigate. Second, I investigate what thoughts are instigating this emotion.
Decide. Finally, I decide how I can act in a way to turn this negative emotion around. Do I need to…
Ask for help?
Take a break?
Communicate what I am feeling?
Seek more information?
Give myself self-love or self-care?
Think more about what’s happening?
Or, maybe the best thing to do is nothing, to just let the emotion be so it can eventually pass.
Taking care of the moment is fantastic and over time these actions will add up to new behaviors and habits that help us recover from negativity easier and faster. We stop reacting to every difficult emotion that comes up and instead start responding to life in more positive and productive ways.
BUT, the growth doesn’t end here.
What I’ve described above is the first-aid treatment to apply in the moment a negative emotion arises. However if you are chronically suffering from the same emotion, you’ll probably want to consider what’s underneath it, so you can heal the root cause and be able to prevent these injuries from happening in the first place.
How do we do this?
We review, which means we set aside time on a regular basis (yes, I mean we put it into our calendars) to check-in with our beliefs and values via journaling, daydreaming, talking to a friend or therapist or whatever means we find most comfortable. We can ask ourselves, why do we continually become triggered by certain things? Our beliefs are the source of our emotions and corresponding thoughts, which ultimately drive our behaviors. If we can reprogram our beliefs/values, then we can prevent future negative emotional outbreaks from sabotaging our behaviors and making us do things we might later regret.
To illustrate this connection, imagine a flower basking underneath the sun, with its roots digging deep into the soil. Our beliefs are at the roots of our actions. If our roots (beliefs/values) are healthy, they will be able to absorb the sun and rain to create the nourishment (positive emotions and corresponding thoughts) necessary to help grow a healthy flower (action). The more healthy flowers (actions) we produce, the more beautiful and exciting our garden (life) becomes.
Let’s conclude by summing up this process in as few words as possible: we RID and then review. Get it? Got it? Good.