Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tools For Managing Your #Emotions, #Mental Health , & #Happiness: Dodging Emotional Rabbit Holes

OK, so what is an emotional rabbit-hole?  Although they can be difficult to describe or see ahead of time, you can usually tell if you are in one!  Here are some examples:  You find yourself in a prolonged state of conflict, worry, resentment, shame, depression, anger, hurt or other emotional upset.  You feel disturbed; not a little bit, but a lot. You don't want to feel this way, but you do,  and you can't seem to pull yourself out of it.  Emotional rabbit-holes steal happiness. 

We have all been there.  We have gotten stuck over some situation: an indignity, a rejection, a loss,  a mistake we made.  We have become quite angry; sad, or hurt about something;  or maybe we feel like a failure. We keep circling around in our negative thoughts and troubled feelings that we can't seem to chase away.  We are stuck in an emotional rabbit-hole.

When we find ourselves in an emotional rabbit-hole, it is difficult to sort and sooth feelings. Feeling bad is taken as proof that our troubles are justified,  "If I feel so bad, it is bad." Trapped in this circular reasoning, we are unable to work our way out to regain well-being. We must see what causes emotional rabbit-holes to avoid them.  Every emotion starts with an occasioning event or trigger, then we think about it, and what we think produces the emotional reaction.   Our thought ... positive, negative,  or neutral ... determines how we will feel emotionally.  In the case of emotional rabbit-holes,  the thought is always negative. Persistent negative thought is all that is needed to get stuck in an emotional rabbit-hole. 

What can you do?  First, take note of how you feel.  Notice when you are stuck in negative feelings. Second, remind yourself that you have these negative feelings because you are thinking about a situation in an emotionally troubling  way. You continue to replay thoughts which cause you to feel upset and stay stuck there.  Since you aren't getting paid by the hour to make yourself feel bad, decide to put a halt to trouble-making thoughts promptly. Resolve to think about your situation in a different way that quiets and quells disturbance. Take charge of your thinking, and you will master emotional-rabbit holes.   

With my new CBT self-help guide, Think Right, Feel Right, you can develop these and other emotional tools my clients acquire to optimize emotional health and happiness.