You cannot move on to a positive emotional state while your brain is filled with misery. You need to jump into that misery to excavate the old to bring in the new. Our brains only have so much capacity to think (emotions are just old thoughts) and if it is full it cannot take many new happy thoughts.
But even worse, our brains attach new thoughts to similar old ones for efficiency. We accept new thoughts faster that fit well with our existing ones. Our brains are more alert to new thoughts that fit in with the old ones compared with new ones that there is nowhere to file. If all your old thoughts are filled with pain and fear it will have a hard time fitting the lovely positive new ones in anywhere as equals. So, no matter how much you do ‘positive’ thinking those thoughts have nothing to latch on to.
Why Dwell On The Misery?
Emotions can have a residue effect on your functioning, both physically and emotionally, for years until they are ‘resolved’. This can have catastrophic effects on your health resulting in a plethora of physical consequences from gaining a few kilos as body armour to significant even fatal diseases.
Resolved is different to just forgetting about it. It’s also true that you can resolve emotions that you will never forget. If you have suffered a huge life event you will never forget it or even become indifferent to it. When you think about it, there will always be some residue charge/thoughts, but this is akin to scar tissue which is not going to spread into something more dangerous. While you may never forget this, you can feel safe enough to ignore it on a day to day basis.
How To Resolve Your Old Negative Emotions
1. Have them
Feeling it again, over and over until the feelings lessen. Think about it, talk about it, cry, rage, stomp your feet etc. My favourite technique for this is EFT and the Ortner’s are my favourite practitioners of this. https://www.thetappingsolution.com/
2. Get professional help
If you have suffered a huge event, an assault, loss of a significant other through divorce or death, bankruptcy, been fired etc, it is best to do this with a medical professional such as a psychologist or clinically qualified therapist. Do not underestimate the depth of these emotions because you appear to be ‘coping’.
Regardless of the event if you feel like you are bordering on depression, or you have in ANY WAY been limiting your activities because of your emotions; stopped applying for new jobs or dating or even engaging less in a sport or social activity absolutely see a medical professional.
3. Get systematic
If the emotional charge is reduced significantly but does not resolve fully, examine your memories in a systematic detailed way, put your thoughts under a microscope.
This could be by journaling or write a detailed list of exactly what happened. Get really detailed. Include every tiny thing you can remember. Or write it out as a play script including dialogue and directions to the actors.
Your brain’s capacity for logic will aid you here in two ways; analysing the components can equalise which are still dangerous and where some action is still required. Your brain will then start searching subconsciously for a solution if appropriate. Secondly, once your brain diagnoses this at the microscopic level it will use up the last of the emotional charge.
4. Rewrite history
I have used the write a ‘script for a play’ a few times. If I first have a good cry, stomp, EFT session before starting to write, I usually find I can no longer recall all the issues in enough detail to finish the play. I then continue writing it as fiction and editing the non-fictional parts and just having fun with it. These improved fictional edits then stay in memory ready to do or say the next time something similar happens.
Your brain does not know the difference between memories of thoughts that you rehearse or imagined, compared to thoughts of events that happened. Therefore, imagining yourself doing something is a great way to prepare for doing it better. Athletes actively do this all the time. It’s not about imagining it ending well, rather imagining doing it well. See your legs pumping faster than ever before as you run the race and then standing on the podium receiving your medal.
GETTING HAPPY BY HAVING MORE HAPPY THOUGHTS
Fill Your Day With Good Stuff.
Scientific research showing smiling and laughing have positive effects on mental and physical health. Stay alert to things to smile and laugh at. Smile and laugh longer when these things happen.
Actively create better content by adding events that make you happy. Create a list of 5 positive things that you can spread through every day. One of mine is to buy a coffee from my favourite café and really savour that first taste. You might listen to great music on headphones and shut out the rest or watch feel-good movies and read books that leave you feeling inspired or filled with hope. Watch Frozen 12 times, even if you don’t have kids.
The Power Of Gratitude’s
The reason gratitude’s work way better than ‘positive’ thinking or affirmations is because you are reinforcing things that have happened to you. There are existing memories to attach the positive gratitude thoughts too. Gratitude’s don’t work if you cannot think why these events are positive. Your brain is not an idiot. The generic ‘everything occurs for a reason’ is not enough. You must actually see the positive to feel happy.
Having a daily evening gratitude ritual is a great way to resolve potentially negative daily events by analysing them for positive content to be grateful for. It will also change the ‘file to long-term memory’ balance while you sleep. Your brain will continue highlighting the positive events of the day to file and sending to trash the day’s insignificant events leaving your brain better prepared for processing more positive stuff tomorrow.
You can start this ‘clearing’ through the day hours before you actually go to sleep too, like as you cook, or on your trip home from work. Better still start before you leave work. You can end the workday with a positive sense of closure or by writing a better to-do list for tomorrow. Either way, you can then leave work at work.
If you have young children, you can instil this habit with them by playing the ‘name three happy things’ during their bed-time routine. It’s not too late for grumpy teenagers either, you’re just going to debate the events of their day until they get the hang of seeing the good for themselves.
If you don’t have children make it part of your own bedtime routine. If your day was filled with boring uneventful stuff you may be unable to whip up any genuine gratitude’s. It’s ok to end your day thinking about anything from days, weeks or years past that you are still grateful for.