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There’s a secret to managing difficult emotions well…

Written by Nick Wignall | October 1st, 2020

If you’re anything like me—or 99.9% of the world—you probably struggle with your emotions sometimes:

  • Maybe you’re a worrier and easily get caught in spirals of anxiety and fear.
  • Maybe you have a hard time controlling your temper and frequently get irritable and angry.
  • Maybe you struggle with feeling inadequate or like you’re an imposter.
  • Maybe you have a tendency to take things too personally or get lost in negative self-talk.
  • Maybe you have a hard time staying focused and easily get distracted or find yourself procrastinating as a way to avoid difficult feelings.

We all struggle with our emotions. But most of us struggle more than we need to—much more.

And one of the biggest reasons why is something you almost never hear people talk about…

Nobody ever taught us much about emotions—what they are, how they work, and how best to work with them when they’re tough.

So we all do the best we can with what we’ve got. When painful emotions come up, we understandably try to get rid of them or avoid them:

  • We distract ourselves
  • We try out some coping skills
  • Or my personal favorite… We get judgmental with ourselves—as if beating ourselves up will teach us not to feel so bad!

The trouble is, while distractions and quick fixes can make you feel better in the moment, they usually make difficult emotions harder to manage in the future.

When we run away from difficult feelings, we teach our brain that those feelings are dangerous.

This makes us even more emotionally fragile and reactive in the future.

So, how do we escape this vicious cycle?

The answer is surprisingly straightforward:

If you want to manage your emotions better, you must build a better relationship with them.

Treating your painful moods and emotions like enemies to be eliminated or avoided only makes them stronger (and you weaker). True emotional strength comes from learning to accept your emotions, especially the difficult ones.

This is why I like to say that the heart of emotional intelligence is friendship.

Because it’s only when we learn to approach our difficult emotions with curiosity and compassion that we can begin to work with them confidently and effectively.

If these ideas resonate and make sense to you, you can learn more about how to begin building a better relationship with your emotions in my free email course, Emotional Intelligence Essentials:

Emotional Intelligence Essentials

5 Rules for Better Moods and a Calmer Mind


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Most self-improvement writing is either too simplistic to be helpful or too technical to be readable. Nick’s articles are clear and easy-to-read but insightful and practical at the same time. Highly recommended!
Jake Knapp • NYT Bestselling author of Sprint
The information Nick shares is both accurate and approachable. He gracefully ties together the latest scientific research with real-life stories and examples. Even though I know many of the concepts, I find personal value in hearing it straight from Nick!
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