4 Strategies for Coping with Stress and Emotional Pain

You're stressed to the max and tightroping a thread between sanity and flip out.

Posted Oct 10, 2014

stress management, acceptance, happiness

stress management, acceptance, happiness

Don't worry, I'm not gonna FLIP OUT!!

"Why is it that when some people get knocked down, they keep going? They get knocked down, they get up, and they go again. Other people, they get knocked down and they just stay down; they never get up." - Marsha Linehan on Radical Acceptance

Marsha Linehan, psychologist and creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, identified a strategy for facing painful problems. She says you basically have four options: (1) Find a solution to the problem (2) Change the way you feel about the problem (3) Accept that the problem is what it is (4) Stay absolutely #miserable

The Four Options:

1. Solve Your Problem

Is there anything you can do about the problem right now? If you could do something, would it be fair? Is your solution reasonable? Is a solution possible? Will your solution make things better? 

If there isn't a reasonable solution to the problem in the immediate future, then move on to the next option.

2.  Change the Way You Feel

How can you possibly change the way you feel about stress, right? "It's awful and will always be awful," you say. Well, our feelings are created by our perceptions and thoughts. So if we want to change the way we feel then we need to challenge our thoughts.

In many instances, stress/depression/anxiety will color our perceptions. In other words, picture yourself wearing blue-tinted glasses and now you're asked to identify the color of a lemon. Through the blue lens, that lemon looks blue-greenish. If you were wearing clear lenses, the lemon would be yellow (#obvi). So remember that just because you are having a bad day, it doesn't mean you're having a bad life. Challenge the overly negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones...which usually just happen to be more positive. Read more on how to challenge thoughts here

3. Radically Accept It | It Is What It Is

Acceptance. Although hardly rocket science, Marsha Linehan's talk on radical acceptance (transciption here) liberating to say the least. As she describes, you are more likely to stay stuck in your own muck of yuckiness if you refuse accept the reality of your life. Those who tend to ruminate on thoughts such as "it's not fair," "this is horrible," "I can't possibly get over this," etc. are the ones who continue to suffer. In contrast, if you are able to accept the reality of the hand you're delt (whether fair or not) you are more likely to move away from suffering. It's tough, but acceptance truly is the precursor of happiness. In the words of renowned psychologist Carl Rogers, "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change."

4. Stay Miserable


I'm miserable, what's your name?

"People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you are fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly." ― Elizabeth Gilbert

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