Difficult Emotions

Pull Yourself Together, Man by Philip Eley is our latest release. It’s written as a simple, usable guide on how to find some effective rhythms and healthy habits in your life, and offers ideas and thoughts to help people better manage their own emotional health. It contains stories, lists and ideas, as well as top tips and anecdotes. In this short extract, the author looks at difficult emotions – a tricky subject for many of us, but one that is examined in detail in Philp’s book with helpful exercises and key-points to remember.

Even difficult emotions have a purpose

Although no emotions are bad, some emotions are more difficult than others. They might be particularly painful, or frightening, or overwhelming. Some emotions might impact on your life more than others.  

Although some emotions are difficult, they are not bad. Although these difficult emotions might seem out of control, or to be asserting a dominant influence on your life, they do have a purpose. All emotions have a purpose. 

My experience is that people have often built an impression that certain feelings are ‘good’ and certain feelings are ‘bad’. This can make dealing with them more difficult. Hiding from them, ignoring them, trying to force them out of you or trying to replace them with something else, can eventually lead to greater problems. Even difficult emotions have a job to do. A starting point for getting difficult emotions under control is to understand them, and as you begin to understand them you can let them do their job. 

It’s not easy understanding the intended purpose of difficult emotions, as they get caught up in the wheels of unhealthy habits, and difficult emotions often whirlpool together and muddy the waters. Sometimes we cover up one difficult emotion with a different difficult emotion. It can take a long time to unravel difficult emotions and consider where they came from and why, but it is a useful project to undertake. In VERY general terms, sadness brings comfort, anger gives us strength to solve a problem, anxiety warns us that there is something we don’t feel equipped for, jealousy warns us of a threat to our social world, depression takes away motivation to allow you the comfort of not being responsible for outcomes, guilt helps us self-reflect. This is not an exact or definitive list, but it might give you a starting point. Look back on one of the difficult emotions you listed above. 

What could this difficult emotion be TRYING to achieve? 

This is a complex area, and there are no easy answers, but it is still a good starting point. An approach that I often take with people is to encourage them to think of their difficult emotions as warning lights, and consider what their emotions are trying to tell them.

Pull Yourself Together, Man is available now.

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