Action Opposite to Emotion
Have you ever forced yourself to do something that you really didn’t want to do, only because it was good for you? Even though you did not want to do it, did you feel better afterwards? Did you feel a sense of accomplishment? Were you glad you did it? Most people will tell you that when they force themselves to do what is in their best interest, no matter how much they do not want to do it, they feel better.
So often we want to take the path of least resistance when we know there is a healthier route. We often do this because our emotions lead the way. We do what we FEEL like doing. The problem is- what we FEEL like doing often makes us FEEL worse.
We FEEL unmotivated so we skip the workout. We FEEL depressed so we isolate ourselves from others. We FEEL overwhelmed so we totally shut down. We FEEL discouraged so we fill our head with self-defeating thoughts…And where do we find ourselves? Feeling more unmotivated, depressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged.
IF WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS NOT WORKING FOR YOU, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
Sometimes we need to take action opposite to emotion (the opposite of what we feel like doing) to produce a desired emotion.
When feeling depressed, one of the last things you may feel like doing is exercising or getting together with other people. However, exercise and social support elevates the mood and reduces depression.
When feeling overwhelmed, you may want to just shut down. However, this will only make you feel worse. By doing SOMETHING, no matter how small, you get some momentum going. When you are overwhelmed, take baby steps.
When feeling anxious, you may just want to avoid. However, avoidance only leads to more anxiety. By confronting your fears, you reduce your anxiety. (You may want to partner with a professional, depending on the intensity of your fears)
When feeling shameful, you want to hide. (You may want to hide under a table, run away, or hide behind your addictions) However, hiding produces more shame. Opening up to trusted others can reduce shameful feelings.
Take a look at the chart below.
Emotion Desired Action Action Opposite to Emotion New Emotion
unmotivated do nothing work out motivated
anxiety avoidance confront less anxiety
anger scream, hit calmly assert self peace
sadness isolate self find supportive others loved/supported
shame hide talk to trusted others less shame
sluggish do nothing take a brisk walk more energized
How do you cope with uncomfortable emotions? Is it working for you? Is it healthy? Have you ever tried doing action opposite to emotion?
*If you have been feeling extremely down or depressed for over three days or have thoughts of harming yourself or others, please seek medical attention immediately.
Images credited to PowerPoint