A primer on dealing with negative emotions

Discussion in 'Loneliness' started by properWood, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. properWood

    properWood Fapstronaut

    I hope this thread will become a stickie, so that newcomers can immediately find relief.

    Since I joined the nofap forums, I noticed often questions that follow the below pattern:

    I feel lonely/sad/anxious/depressed. What should I do to feel better?

    I will attempt to provide you with a method for relief and healing from such feelings, one that should bring you back up to a state of contentment.


    Every now and then we all experience negative feelings. Many of us have not been taught in our childhood how to cope with such emotions and the pain they inflict, so we developed ways to cope with them, such as addictions and compulsions. I’m talking here about not being taught how to handle your emotions up to dealing with trauma.

    Loneliness occurs when your expectations do not match reality in terms of socialisation. We experience loneliness when culture/society imposes on us a specific standard that we cannot fulfil. The best example is social media. It makes us compare to others not only in terms of looks or travels, but also in terms of the extent of our circle of friends; seeing a friend of ours having fun without us can be gut wrenching.

    We experience sadness, similar to loneliness, due to expectations. We expect situations go into a specific direction, but they don’t. We feel sad because of loss or failure. Loss of a friend, death, failure to make ourselves acknowledged by others, failure in achieving goals.

    In its full form, anxiety is identical to fear, to worry. We fear that we will lose friends, lose our composure, worry about money, worry about relapsing. We may be fearful of others’ judgement, of rejection and many other potentially stressful situations. Rational or irrational, anxiety signals us that a stressful situation is likely to occur, not that it occurred.

    The shortest and clearest description of depression is that it is a signal of the body to a prolonged stressful situation. It is a cry from our body and brain to change the environment. Experiencing loneliness, sadness and anxiety over long periods of time exhausts the body. It is our body’s only way to say “I’m hurt, change the environment!”

    Dealing with negative emotions

    We have two ways to deal with negative emotions, healthy and unhealthy. The unhealthy way to deal with negative emotions is through addictions and compulsions. The healthy way is to experience, acknowledge and process the emotions.

    Addictions and compulsions

    From simple neuroses (very simple example, stepping on a crack in the footpath with the right foot must be balanced with stepping on another crack with the left foot) to strong addictions (smoking, pornography, alcohol), addictions (substance) and compulsions (behaviour) are method of control seeking.

    When we suffer a trauma, such as the loss of a relationship, rejection, the death of someone we love, our brain is thrown into disarray by the strength of the negative emotions. Literally, the neural paths that dealt with emotional pain are the same ones that deal with physical pain, meaning that losing a relationship can feel like an arm being severed.

    While physical trauma is taken care of by medical doctors, many and most of the times when we have to deal with emotional trauma we are left to our own devices and, in all honesty, we’re pretty much immature in handling emotions: we suppress them, we man-up, we push them away not to be seen weak.

    The pain is still there, you come home from work or school and you’re in pain, you have no drive to go for a walk or clean the flat or cook, you just open the bottle, light up the cigarette or open the laptop’s browser. These substances and behaviours temporarily remove you from dealing with your painful emotions today. Tomorrow, same thing; the day after, the same. Eventually we develop a mechanism of dealign with the pain, trigger -> strong pain -> substance/behaviour -> pain subsides. We become addicted.

    Addictions and compulsions push the can down the road and lead to a state of severe depression and lack of joy. Addictions give us the sense of control, but in reality we delegate the control.

    Healthy processing of emotions

    The only, and I’m very careful when saying “only”, way out of the negative emotions is to experience, acknowledge and process them; I tend to like it to cataloguing your bank statements or sorting your drawers.

    Similar to physically treating a cut by cleaning, disinfecting and applying a plaster on it, plus allowing the wound to heal, the only way to heal emotional pain is to experience it, acknowledge it and process it, one emotion at a time. And we have a lot of emotional wounds that have now infected us!

    How to process emotional pain
    Step by step:

    1. Make time in the evening, 20-30 minutes and sit alone in a quiet room. Turn off any potential interruption, including the phone.

    2. Go through the events that happened during the day or even go back in time and remind yourself of a painful situation from the past.

    3. Relive the said experiences, your brain will not make the distinction. You will feel your body warming up, you will start noticing various sensations in your body, such as cooling or warming of various body parts, nervousness in some parts of your body etc.

    4. Sit with these sensations and the feelings, this is how the emotions get expressed. Try to identify which emotions they represent, is it rejection, humiliation, fear, loss? You may not know at first, it will come with time, but first sit with these sensations. Avoid thinking about the event, and just feel the sensations. You will probably have a sensations like dying, at times, but you won’t, it’s the experience of a very strong emotion. You are very likely to cry. Sometimes you will experience bouts of crying without even thinking of a particular situation; that’s fine, don’t push the feeling away.

    5. After a short while (my longest such experience was 1 minute), your body will naturally come back to a normal state and you will feel a bit relieved. Don’t end the session, stay like this for the half hour, you may experience another such emotional burst.

    Journal, if you have the time and the composure, write what you believe you felt, not what you think a future reader of your journal may want to read.


    After several such half hour sessions spread over a few weeks you will start to feel much better. You will naturally start to feel content with yourself, less anxiety and much less loneliness. Since it’s likely you have processed some emotions that are behind one of your addictions, it’s very likely that the addiction will simply go away and you’ll not have the urge for the behaviour or the substance; the pain is gone and the trigger is not going to have any effect, you don't need to soothe the wound.

    You will now notice that you have a lot of free time on your hand and you don’t know with what to fill it. Develop new, healthy habits:

    • Start reading books
    • Pick up a new hobby
    • Learn playing an instrument
    • Try to write a book
    • Pick up a sport

    I hope you will find your way out of negative emotions in a very short amount of time! With the above process, it took me about 10 sessions in 3 weeks to feel content in my own skin.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  2. Very well written and thought through! Thank you!
    Currently dealing with a breakup and thanks to my new implemented habit meditation I already thought about my feelings much more than I would have done usually.

    But you motivated me to get more into that, try to discover more feelings and work them up.

    How did you develop this guide, have you some sources or further infos?

    And yes this should be pinned!
    Kiz Whalifa and lvcas like this.
  3. Fuck man. This is huge. I mean like trump HUGEEEE!

    I am really pissed and this post is going straight into use.
    level81rat likes this.
  4. Freedom_from_PMO

    Freedom_from_PMO Fapstronaut

    I disagree about that. Societal expectations are making it worse but aren't the source of a problem. Some people just don't have friends or have big datinf problems and since we are social creatures it is itself very hard to bear with or without societal preassure.
  5. thank your for the advice.
  6. properWood

    properWood Fapstronaut

    Since I had recently a mental breakdown and I got scared, I started to read a lot of books on emotional healing and I also had a lot of hours of therapy and kept asking difficult and uncomfortable questions, that led me to understand that my decent childhood was actually filled with emotional abuse and neglect.

    I read a lot of books last month (off work), but I would recommend only books such as "running on empty", "the boy that was raised as a dog" (title is a bit misleading) and "lost connections". They deal with depression and emotional neglect and abuse. After that I corroborated what I learnt from these books, about how the brain works, with a video from Julien Blanc:

    Please note that I recommend ONLY this video from him, the others don't strike me as useful and his message in other videos is melodramatic. I also disagree with the idea of pick up artists.

    From my journal, I also recommend the second post that details what depression is. I would go to argue that many many guys and gals here found relief in PMO because of depression, as an escaping mechanism:

    Further more, I went ahead and took out of my head anything that Jordan B. Peterson teaches; he's wrong on so many counts, that I think he's doing more harm than good to the young. Maybe I should journal about that soon.
    Sinbad and Deleted Account like this.
  7. properWood

    properWood Fapstronaut

    And I agree to disagree. I have no friends, I have no one I can call at 10pm for help. I have no girlfriend and I was told to keep away from my parents for an indeterminate period of time. All my acquaintances and work colleagues said that I need to make more friends, be more outgoing, find a nice girl and I had a struggle understanding how to make friends. I felt there was something wrong with me because I don't know how to make friends, I cannot make friends.

    Once, however, I gave up that idea (oh I need friends to not feel lonely) and stayed with the pain created by feeling lonely and bored, after hours of crying from feeling like no one cares, I understood that I felt lonely because I could not live to the expectations of those around me, to make friends and to have a social circle. Since then, I actually enjoy much more the freedom of reading a book on Friday evening than beers and gossip and it feels like being present with my best friend: myself.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  8. Sinbad

    Sinbad Fapstronaut

    Good advice. I tend to think about what I could have done or said differently. And keep grinding out an event in my mind until the point it becomes suffocating. Next time I'll give that up and pay attention to how and where it feels in my body instead.

    I just listened to the video while cooking. It was a little hard at first. Because there's a lot of boasting and cursing. But after 20 minutes it started speaking to me. What I got out of it is to breath trough the process. Whatever emotion comes up, breath in to it. And then let it go as you breath out. In this way it's a lot like mindfulness.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  9. greenishmoon

    greenishmoon Fapstronaut

    I went through a process in which I only could feel fear. This went on for a year or maybe even more. While I'm still recovering from that, I think what you proposed here could be a good way of interpreting some emotions.

    I will give it a try and comment on my experience.
  10. greenishmoon

    greenishmoon Fapstronaut

    Well, so I tried what you described on the original post, and I have to say I'm surprised by the results.
    It is amazing no one in my life ever stopped my train and just explained to me how to understand my emotions better. Perhaps I wasn't ready to see myself face to face either.
    In general, it becomes very hard aknowledging and accepting some emotional responses, but overall It helped me a lot to name a lot of them and begin to clearly understand a lot of situations I didn't know why them bothered me so much.

    This simple practice (even when I'm kind of ashamed by its simplicity and where did I found it) really helped me a lot, thank you.
    need4realchg likes this.
  11. properWood

    properWood Fapstronaut

    Cheers mate, reading that warmed my heart like never before! Happy to hear it helps! I have an update to it, after reading a crap load about emotions, thinking of maybe making a small "manual for troubled times" lol
  12. Of course this method takes practice - at first you might be confused of what you felt, you might even not feel anything. But with practice you get a sort of routine in it and, at least for me, improves the quality and purpose of your life tremendously. It enabled me to quit bad habits and implement good ones easier thanks to this - as you realize why you do the things you do, why you have this compulsive or this destructive behaviour.

    But also don't expect superpowers ;)
    need4realchg likes this.
  13. greenishmoon

    greenishmoon Fapstronaut

    As an update, I've been feeling great after practicing this way. Some anxiety simptoms have lowered to the point that they're no longer an issue, and sometimes the anxiety itself is no longer there. Some compulsive thoughts have dissapeared and my emotional life seems to be just getting better.

    I have also found that I have problems with (simple and not so) stuff that I just ignored for years. So I think there's plenty of work to do yet.

    @ProboyMate , yes, to me it was exactly like OP said. Sometimes you don't even want to do it. I think it is kind of a reflex.
    Take it slowly.
    properWood likes this.
  14. greenishmoon

    greenishmoon Fapstronaut

    I don't know the particulars of each individual. But my best guess is that if you evaded stuff for too long, once they become visible it is really poignant.
  15. harris37

    harris37 Fapstronaut

    Such a good write up, the thing the gets me is always over thinking and thinking into the future, this causes me a lot of anxiety. I'm now training my mind to live in the now instead of thinking about everything before it's even happened, antisapatory anxiety... always having an expectation and then expectations not being met. Amazing how strong the imagination is, causes a lot of disappointment and sadness. Sometimes I think I'm crazy but I know now everyone does this at some point... it's just not real. It's something you've picked up through growing up from those closest to you.
    greenishmoon likes this.
  16. Randy Andy

    Randy Andy Fapstronaut

    This is incredible, the op and the whole discussion. I think this should definitely be a sticky. It seems to me that this goes deep into the solution, a great place to start and build a way of life on top of.
  17. greenishmoon

    greenishmoon Fapstronaut

    That's exactly what happens with time. Give yourself the permission to feel all that shit one piece of it at a time. It will take time.
  18. This is a great post!
  19. Rizzo1771 the Artiste

    Rizzo1771 the Artiste Fapstronaut

    I think I'm starting to feel again, but I mostly feel depressed and I hate it...

    And I should probably reread through the first post, but I'll come back to that.

    I think I need a new High so I'm not always so low.
  20. greenishmoon

    greenishmoon Fapstronaut

    Yes it did, and worse, in some cases.

    Spiritual and mental pain are as serious (and go hand in hand) with physical pain.

    My advice (although it is very hard to do) is to stop trying to evade all the cues your body sends. As with substance addictions, you may experience shaking, aches and spasms. If you feel like it, live through it, never repress it (but rather observe it), or it WILL get worse. This can be specially hard when at work or in social spaces but try to let it all out.

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