"We cannot change anything until we accept it.
Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses."
- Carl Jung
Do you ever find you feel irritated with yourself for feeling irritated? Or maybe your bad mood makes you feel angry that you are in a bad mood? This might lead to further negative internal dialogue - “Stop feeling this way! Stop being so grouchy with everyone! You are doing this to yourself!” Which, of course, only makes things worse. The thoughts and feelings don’t go away, but rather, become stronger. Maybe we then add more self-blame and judgemental thoughts because we want to stop the feelings. Using self criticism to try and change our negative thoughts and emotions actually just intensifies them. Hence, the spiral of negative thinking continues onward. No matter how hard we try to change our thinking, it just doesn’t work.
If changing these thoughts isn’t possible, we may try to suppress them. Ignoring our thoughts and feelings isn’t an easy task. The more we try to avoid sadness, the sadder we become. When we are actively trying to not appear anxious in a high pressure situation, the more anxious we become. What would happen if we tried to accept these thoughts and feelings instead of working to change or ignore them?
There are going to be days when we don’t feel 100%. We will feel anxiety, anger, confusion, and sadness. No matter what we do, there will be times of emotional distress in our lives. Being human means we are able to experience a wide range of emotions in our day to day lives. If a friend or loved one were having a bad day, we would likely be kind, compassionate, and reassuring. Could we treat ourselves the same?
Rather than let our negative thoughts and feelings spiral, we can try acceptance. We can say to ourselves: “It’s ok that I am feeling sad right now.” “I’m transitioning; this feeling won’t last forever.” “Of course I’m angry right now, who wouldn’t be?” “This feeling is serving a purpose, and I wonder what that is?” Let’s try to give ourselves permission to feel whatever emotions are coming up. Acceptance empowers us to look at the present moment, embrace our emotions, and consider what to do next.
If you are looking for additional assistance in changing negative thoughts and feelings, individual therapy is something to consider. Therapy is a great place to get help in practicing acceptance. Take a look at our services page for more information on how we approach this process.