Some people find it interesting that I spend significant time in my workshops and talks discussing negative emotions: “You’re supposed to be the Happiness Coach, right?”
But effectively managing negativity is a central strategy for becoming happier. And it’s not about ignoring the bad stuff or covering over it. In fact, it’s the opposite; research has found that the happiest people acknowledge their negative emotions and consciously embrace some of that negativity.
I’ve been getting a lot of practice with this recently (oh, joy…). I have struggled with sleep maintenance insomnia (meaning I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep) for years. I’d managed my insomnia using Benedryl but wanted to get off the drug, so decided to quit cold turkey (on Thanksgiving, no less!). Like most people, when I don’t get enough sleep, my mood tanks and the world looks like a hopeless/uncaring/overwhelming place. After my sleep fell off precipitously, I cycled deep into negativity throughout December and these first weeks of January (merry Christmas to me…).
In a spurt of panic/proactivity (did you notice that re-framing?), I hired a coaching colleague*, who was a practicing psychologist in a past career. In our work together over the last few weeks, I realized that my insomnia was a symptom of significant underlying anxiety.
Doh! Double whammy. Now I had two problems to manage rather than just one. Not only was I sleep-deprived and cranky, but I had a diagnosable problem that shook the very roots of my own sense of awesomeness. Now, I find myself faced with a tidal wave of negative emotions and thoughts: ‘I’ll never sleep again.’ ’I’m such an impatient and anger-prone dad.’ ’How am I going to get all this work done with so little energy?’ and ‘I don’t want to be feeling this!’
Before my revelation, I had been planning on using the newsletter during the next few months to share the best of the research on managing negative emotions. Now I get to share that information while simultaneously USING much of it to manage my own negativity, anxiety and insomnia. So tune in over the next few weeks to learn about necessary vs. gratuitous negativity, healthy distractions, disputation and when to act the way you want to feel.Eric Karpinski The Happiness Coach
* BTW, my new coach, Sharon Esonis, Ph.D. is a leader in the positive psychology field. She’s written a book on the subject and has a very useful and informative monthly newsletter. You can learn about her book and sign up for her newsletter on her website here (sign up form is halfway down the left column).
You can sign up to receive my weekly “Happiness Infusion” email directly to your inbox, just sign up on the form on the right.
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