Life is guaranteed to give you a few bad moments every now and then.
That’s just the way things are, and at the end of the day we grow from every experience we get.
But as much as we can learn from these terrible situations, we still have to deal with them in the present, and that’s the hardest part.
Our instinct tells us that we need to bury these emotions or hide from them.
The mind is always doing its best to keep itself from discomfort, which is why it is so much more appealing to hide away from our embarrassment, remorse, grief, stress, anxiety, and anger rather than deal with it.
But putting off the experience of these painful feelings only perpetuates a state of long-term distress.
We end up suffering far longer and far deeper than otherwise, simply because we couldn’t sum up the courage to confront the anxieties lurking in the back of our minds.
But how do we gather the strength to do that?
Think of it like this: instead of turning away from the emotions you don’t want to face, just slowly turn towards the experience.
You don’t have to look at it head-on, but you shouldn’t avoid it completely, either. Tend to the wounded half of yourself while you deal with the pain with the other half.
Below we break down the six-step process to emotionally handle your toughest moments in peace:
1) Pause, and Return
When pain and anxiety hit us, our kneejerk reaction is to run away and shield ourselves from the bad feelings.
But this is the most important part of recovery—the choice to begin recovery right away.
If you turn away from the negative vibes, you will never begin the recovery because you will never give yourself the opportunity to completely experience the inevitable.
So stop yourself from the instinctive reaction to run and hide. Turn around and face what you fear most.
The sooner you do this, the sooner you can begin the next steps, and the less time you have to deal with this entire issue overall.
After all, why would you want to prolong the negativity?
2) Identify Every Side of the Negativity
Stop lying to yourself. After you have summed up the courage to turn back to the negativity and look at it, you must see it for what it is.
Whether it’s pain, embarrassment, shame, hatred, anything, you must see it for its true colors.
Don’t convince yourself that it isn’t as serious as it might be because that’s still the same as hiding from it.
If there is shame inside of you, then tell yourself immediately, “I know that shame exists within me, and I acknowledge all of it.”
If you have done something bad or shameful, then you must recognize the emotions for what they are, rather than mask them as something they are not.
After you have identified the negativity, it’s time to accept it. Accept that what has happened has already happened, and cannot be taken back or done over.
Others might forgive you for what you have done, or you might eventually end up forgetting about this in the long run, but it is important that you set aside the time to admit to yourself that you completely understand the negative emotions hiding inside of you, why they are there, and that they cannot be reversed.
4) Realize That Nothing Lasts Forever
Negative feelings are so much stronger than positive ones. They last longer, they impact us harder, and they stick with us for what seems to be forever.
But one thing you can do to get over them is understand the fact that they will not last forever.
Try to think of your worst memories. Maybe you were embarrassed, ashamed, guilty. Now think about how you feel about those incidents now.
Are they just vague memories? Guess what: all your emotions will eventually be nothing more than vague memories. As tough as it may be now, this too will pass.
5) Self-Reflect On What Has Happened, and Respond
Many people trap themselves in a downward spiral of negativity, and all it takes is a single wrong step to fall down these stairs.
One bad thing happens and instead of responding appropriately, they act rashly, lashing out in negativity, causing more bad things to happen.
Don’t fall down this descent of madness and bad vibes. Respond accordingly to your situation, and figure out the best way to get out of it or move on with all your dignity intact.
6) Be Open to the Future
The last step is fairly simple: don’t be afraid of the future.
Accept that there will be an outcome. That outcome might not be what you were hoping for, but it is what it is. With all these steps, the future will be better than today.
This story originally appeared in HackSpirit. Image courtesy of JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images.