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Why Forcing Yourself to Feel Better NOW Doesn't Work

Have you ever tried to your will yourself into a better mood? You huff and you puff--and d
Why Forcing Yourself to Feel Better NOW Doesn't Work
Have you ever tried to your will yourself into a better mood?
You huff and you puff–and then…you don’t feel better.
What’s the deal?
Why can’t you just force yourself into a state of emotional bliss?
Because that’s not how emotions work.
The more you pursue an emotion, the more elusive it becomes.
But there are other strategies to try.

I WILL be happy. Not.
I WILL be happy. Not.
A Tale of Anxiety
I have anxiety. I am a person with anxiety.
However you want to word it, there it is. The reality is that I’ve had to learn to cope with anxiety. It’s a process that has taken years.
I used to think that I could make my anxiety go away just by forcing it aside.
First, I would get annoyed. I would muster up all the willpower I could and try to push the anxiety aside. I would thrash about and try to distract myself from the anxiety. I would try to think my way through anxiety, but something that stems from needless thoughts is not going to be resolved through needless thoughts.
I had to learn a different way.
What I learned, through much trial and error, is that anxiety responds best when I learned how to calmly respond to it. I had to learn to accept it, which, if I’m being honest, was the hardest part of the equation. It was only through acceptance that I found a way forward.
Acceptance allowed me to see that I was going to need to change some things if I wanted to manage my anxiety.
So I changed my environment. I found the locations that made me feel peaceful, and I spent more time in them. And I educated myself. I read books that helped me understand that anxiety is not a personal flaw; it’s an issue with the brain. Just knowing that it’s not me, but my brain, made such a big difference. It helped me be less judgmental toward myself. It created some space between the bad, anxious feelings–and who I was as a person.
I learned that I couldn’t force my anxiety away. I had to do the hard things, the things that would help me be stronger and resilient over the long-term.
Over time, lots of practice doing the hard things built the self-awareness I needed to know what would make me feel better.
Want to Feel Better Now? Try This.
Keep in mind, there are no magical potions when it comes to feeling better immediately. And the drinks, food, or tools that make you feel better immediately are going to make you feel worse in the long-term. So choose the tougher path.
Here’s how to feel better:
Acknowledge that what you are trying to do is difficult. It’s going against your human nature to escape pain immediately. But you have to teach yourself some new tricks. Rather than taking the most drastic action you can to feel better, start with an acknowledgment. It can be a private commitment to yourself, or it can be something that you write down. Declare your intention that you are going to work through this–that you will accept what you can so that you can get through these emotions and on to the other side.
Focus on gratitude. Now that you’ve paused for a moment and acknowledged how you’re feeling, take another moment to feel grateful. What? You’re preventing me from making myself feel better NOW to make myself feel grateful NOW? Not so fast, my friend. Gratitude is a magic elixir that actually works. It’s impossible to feel negative emotions when you focus on all the things that you’re grateful for.
Make an acceptance list. This seems strange, I know. Yes, you’re going to try to learn to accept your situation through use of a list. But there is a reason that humans have been making lists for ages. Cavemen and cavewomen probably made mental lists when they were hunting and foraging for groceries. Lists break down what you’re feeling into manageable chunks. If you are the person creating space between your brain and and your emotional states, then lists are the structures that create space between all the various items you are considering. Simple tools are best, I’ve found. Use them.
Feeling Better Now is Possible
It’s possible to develop the strategies to feel better now. It just might take some time at first. Nothing worthwhile is easy. You will need to put in the time to develop your unique strategies, which will, in turn, help you gain the skills to feel better now.
Just remember this: you’re worth the investment. Your emotional stability is worth the time and energy you will put in to develop self-awareness and personal strategies.
Feeling better now is attainable. Don’t give up on figuring it all out.
Thanks for reading. I hope you learned something new. If you didn’t, I hoped this encouraged you to at least look at your life in a new way!


P.S. I provide person-centered coaching. It’s not therapy. It’s based on my experience that other people know their lives best–but could still benefit from goals, compassionate objectivity, and consistent accountability. Interested? Reply to this email–and together we’ll see if it might be a good fit for you!
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Jordan Brown - Mental Health Writer, Poet, and Advocate

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