Written by: Nhan Phan, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
When faced with difficult emotions and thoughts, what do I do? Shut myself off from those emotions? Feel? Express them?
I used to think that I should just stay positive, look for what’s good in a given situation. As Jay Shetty said, “One of the elements of a positive attitude is a real confidence in your ability to adapt to whatever circumstances present themselves.” While it’s good to have this positive attitude, I’ve learned that it’s okay and important to feel the hard things to learn how to deal with them. Feelings are temporary, and they will become lighter over time if we don’t resist or try to avoid them. So to overcome them, we have to learn to be with them, feel the hard things.
As humans, we tend to move away from painful experiences, difficult emotions. Shutting ourselves off from those emotions is a very natural thing to do. But it’s okay to feel them. It’s part of being alive, being human.
So it’s not about ignoring or trying to control those hard feelings and thoughts. They are part of who we are, and so it’s important to notice and acknowledge them to be then able to overcome them. While some will be valid, some will be patterns ingrained in our minds that we’ve been trying to get rid of. And you can become more aware of them, observe them for what they are - just thoughts and emotions - without any judgment, and choose for yourself to move on from them.
It’s important to be kind to yourself when you become aware of such emotions and thoughts, welcome them with compassion and kindness. What would you tell your best friend going through the same experience? Show yourself the same kindness and love. As Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, noted in her book, “self-kindness allows us to feel safe as we respond to painful experiences, so that we are no longer operating from a place of fear—and once we let go of insecurity we can pursue our dreams with the confidence needed actually to achieve them.”
Once you acknowledge those thoughts and emotions, ask yourself whether they align with your truth, values, and goals? If not, should you react to them, give them control over you? Or can you choose to move on from those emotions and let go of them?
There is often this misconception that if you’re working in this field, helping others overcome negative thoughts and emotions, then everything is always bright and shiny in your life. The truth is, we all have our bad days. We all have negative thoughts. Things don’t always go the way we imagined them. So do I.
I go through a bad patch in life sometimes. I have negative thoughts too. I feel fearful at times. There are days I feel low. The difference is - I’ve learned to notice it, to catch myself in those instances, and I can make a choice. To continue feeling this way or to shift it into something positive?
There are also days when you just want to feel it. There are days when I actually want to feel miserable. If you feel that it’s necessary, it’s okay to do it too. I have those days, my potato couch days. You know, when sofa and Netflix are my best friends, just letting my emotions run their course, have their say. Just not letting it last for too long… not for days, weeks or months. Why would you choose to stay in this state if it’s counterproductive and to stop you from moving in the right direction in life?
How can you start building awareness around your emotions and thoughts? Check-in with yourself during the day to see what emotions you are feeling. Observe what thoughts are going through your head at any point, and do this without any judgment or self-criticism - you are just observing. Try doing this for a week. If it helps, you can write it down every time you notice an emotion or observe a thought. Then look back at your notes at the end of the week and see if there are any patterns, what you can learn from this.
Nhan Phan, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Nhan Phan is a Life and Success Coach. Born in Vietnam, Nhan grew up in Moscow, Russia, before coming to the UK where she’s now based in London. After 13 years working in the corporate world, moving from the world of tax to the world of tech, Nhan found her true passion and purpose in coaching. She is committed to helping others on their personal growth journey. Nhan helps her clients declutter and calm their minds to overcome limiting beliefs and negative emotions and thoughts. She is also passionate about relationships, understanding human emotions and the power of the mind, and is training in these areas to further advance her expertise and skills.