Friday, October 31, 2014

By Dr.Diane Kern

The Happy and Healthy U approach to managing negative emotions is the A+ Approach

Acknowledgement and Awareness:  Awareness of ourselves and how we feel is a major step in being able to self-manage or self-regulate. Simply ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” The sooner we are able to recognize that we are experiencing negative emotions and therefore, distress, the easier it is to change and manage such emotions.  Treat your negative emotions as alarm signals.  The purpose of your distressing emotions as alarm signals is to get your attention and alert you to the fact that there is a problem address. Also, identify the things and situations that tend to trigger your negative emotions.

Assessment: This is the evaluation step, which has two parts.
Assess the basis or cause of the negative emotion by stopping and asking yourself: “What is causing this negative emotion; does this emotion makes sense in light of what happened; and is the intensity of the emotion is in line with the severity of the issue? 
Assess your attitude about your feeling.  First of all, validate your feeling by giving yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling.  For instance, if your anger automatically makes you feel guilty or embarrassed, you are likely to shut the feeling down and become defensive in the face of it (i.e. deny it; project it; suppress it; or detach from it, etc.).  This will make it far more difficult for you to manage your emotions, as it will interfere with your ability to accurately assess and addressing them.

Addressing the Issue: This is the problem solving stage.  Here is where you make a conscious choice about what you wish to feel, instead of the negative emotion.  Start with considering ways to change your thinking about whatever is causing your distress.
Ø  Utilize ways to physically calm down when you are upset and distressed.  This will enable you to think clearly, make more efficient decisions and feel better.  Techniques such as deep breathing,
Ø  Focus on the present, rather than on the past or future. 
Ø  Identify whether there is evidence to support the thinking that generates the negative emotion.  If not, change your erroneous thinking and your emotion will follow.
Ø  Find ways to think about the distressing situation differently.  For instance, refocus on what might be a benefit, rather than a negative.
Ø  Recall your previous successes around handling and managing a similar feeling. Remind yourself that you can overcome the distress and get to a better place.
Ø  View yourself as having power in situation, rather than the situation making you feel distressed.
Ø  Allow yourself to be flexible, see your options and change your mind and expectations in a way that helps you get unstuck.
Ø  Recognize what you can vs. what you cannot change; Exercise your power.
Ø  Be assertive and stand up for yourself instead of acting out or holding in your anger.
Ø  Treat yourself well by being fair and reasonable.  Therefore, eliminate negative self-criticism and self-blame.


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