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PSY100- Nov 1, 2011.docx

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Dan Dolderman

PSY100 What can we do to get rid of negative emotions? Dealing with them  How can we gain some control over negative emotions?  Are there any strategies we can use to help us handle negative emotions when they arise?  first, let’s recognize that suppression and rumination aren’t great strategies - Suppression: We set up a monitoring process (watches our mind and makes sure stress or distractions don’t get through) - But when the thoughts come back eventually, they come back stronger o Because we prime our mind with our thoughts over and over because we suppress them from happening and this enhances the thoughts (if you try and suppress negativity you make it stronger) - Rumination is a functional process, where you think about your problems (whats wrong with you, past etc), this can be a functional process like problem solving (if you can think about it you can fix it somehow- problem solving) useful way to go (this is going through things over and over) o But that results into a built associative network In your brain that gets more and more triggered by things (how screwed up you are) and the more you think, the stronger this schema gets and the ability to think outside of it is hard  we build a view of ourselves which is hard to change and results in feelings of hopelessness, depression etc Strategy 1: problem focused coping strategies  We could always try to do something about the situation...  Of course, sometimes we can’t change the situation (e.g., past regrets, existential emptiness, chronic insecurity, jealousy about your partner’s past relationships), or else problem-focused coping doesn’t really apply (e.g., daily hassles stressors) - Keep to successful problem coping is to be productive (not being obsessive over your problem but about trying to see what you can do about it) o Problem is there’s many problems that you cant fix o If you have past regrets (eg,) you cant change them.. Strategy#2: distraction  Textbook: “Overall, distraction is the best way to avoid the problems of suppression or rumination, since it absorbs attention and temporarily helps people to stop thinking about their problems.” note: easiest? yes. most accessible? yes. best? no.  More generally, this is about redirecting attention to other stimuli (as are, ultimately, all the strategies); control of attention is absolutely central - Can get you through the moment  Not the best because it keeps the problem there and doesn’t get rid of it  Many of the ways we choose to distraction ourselves is usually unhealthy (eg junk food, alcohol)  Harming yourself essentially  Putting your attention to something else (taking your attention off the negative focus and put it on something else)  Reengagement in something else  deeper reason why it works is because it has to do with attention o vast majority of what we can do with ourselves psychologically has to do with redirecting our attention (make ourselves happier, less stressed etc) ; this ability that gives us most of the power that we have to construct our conscious Strategy 3:relaxation  - take a few deep breaths; count to 10  go to your happy place.....  breathing & muscle relaxation exercises  note the role of attention redirection  also note the importance of DELAY (give the PFC a fighting chance!)  We typically aren’t that good at relaxing ourselves because that requires higher prefrontal awareness (emotions arise too fast) o emotions have a snowball effect on us and take us over very quickly o you have to practice relaxation otherwise you wont be that good at it (you brain is the same) o you would need to have a relaxation in your network which requires this system to be built and strengthened o really powerful but you have to learn the power through practice and build the pathways in your brain o if we can extend our delay we can give our intelligence system some time to think through things  widening the gap between impulse and action  need to do something to widen that gap Strategy 4: cognitive reframing  changing your interpretation of the experience (ie, redirect attention to our own interpretation and search for alternatives)  eg. internal, global, stable attributions are BAD!  Eg. actively replacing negative thoughts ( I am a loser, I cant do anything right), with other (I failed that time but I can work hard to do better next time)  Eg. challenge appraisals  Eg. it doesn’t really matter (eg. McD’s) 
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