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Published on July 2, 2020

How to Compartmentalize Emotions for Mental Wellbeing

How to Compartmentalize Emotions for Mental Wellbeing

No matter who you are or where you’re from, your emotions can get the best of you.

This isn’t your fault, and you’re not alone, but this is a fact for nearly every person on the planet. Today’s fast-paced world has amplified everyone’s emotions without leaving enough time to handle them. Luckily, every human can compartmentalize emotions to get around this issue.

Emotions aren’t harmful in and of themselves, but issues arise when these unhandled emotions deter your focus, motivation, and productivity.

If you are unable to perform well in work, relationships, and life in general it’s time to learn some tricks to keep your emotions tamed for a healthy life!

Why You Should Compartmentalize Emotions

The mechanism that will help you keep your emotions organized in compartmentalization. Before you learn the dos and don’ts of the process, keep the final expected outcome in mind. When you know what you can achieve, you’ll be able to build a better path for yourself to reach your destination.

It goes without saying that compartmentalizing emotions will give you more time to manage other important tasks. You’ll be able to put your emotions in an orderly manner to be more peaceful and relaxed.[1]

Looking Deeper

If personal benefits and tranquility are not what you want, you should still compartmentalize emotions. It is vital for success in other parts of life, too.

Look at it this way:

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The world today is highly competitive. Why is that, you may wonder. The answer is simple. Everyone has the world at their fingertips. You can get information on any topic from any part of the world within seconds. This easily accessible knowledge has given everyone an equal opportunity to be educated and smart. So, even with all the knowledge that you have, you’ve become easily replaceable. There’s nothing unique about you or your skills because someone out there might always know more.

What puts you apart is your emotional intelligence in this world. How you manage your emotions helps you use your knowledge appropriately[2]. You could be the smartest mathematician in the world, but if you cannot control your rage due to unforeseen circumstances at the time when your mathematical skills are needed, you’re useless to everyone around you.

This also plays an important role in relationships. Your love and care can only be communicated if you can manage the emotions associated with these feelings.

When you compartmentalize emotions, it helps you keep distinct cognitive functions separate. Your feelings and emotions are connected, but feelings and emotions should be placed in separate places depending on the situation and function of the emotion.

Basically, you won’t be deprived of feeling your emotions. You’ll learn to control your emotions instead of being vulnerable to them. Since your emotions will not be a mess, you will act more rationally. Long story short, if you compartmentalize emotions, you minimize the risk of mental illnesses and overreactions.

How to Compartmentalize Emotions in a Healthy Way

To compartmentalize means to organize things in your mind so that they are easier to manage. In the case of emotions, this mechanism can quickly take an unhealthy turn if it’s not done the right way.

Emotions are sensitive, so if you mess up, you’ll do more harm than good. So here a few things to keep in mind to ensure a positive outcome.

1. Identify Your Emotions

A common yet unhealthy habit a lot of us have is to label our emotions without actually identifying them. Anything that makes you feel down is connected to depression or sadness. Anything that triggers your defense mode is anxiety.

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Start looking deeper. Stop using the terms that you know. Instead, feel what your emotions are communicating. Where are your relationship issues arising from? Is it somehow connected to your anger management? Is your childhood trauma affecting you?

Ask yourself the what, why, how, and who of everything you feel. This is the first step to categorize your emotions.

If you’re having trouble in this stage, which you most definitely will in the beginning, try some exercises to gain control over your emotions. Incorporate one little activity every day to slowly get the hang of this step.

2. Group Them Together

This step becomes a piece of cake if you’ve mastered step one.

Look for similarities and differences in your feelings. Be aware that whatever you feel is a result of your emotions. So, whichever emotions lead to similar feelings are usually connected.

While you’re connecting related emotions and feelings, group them together mentally. At the same time, anything that feels different or especially contradictory, group it separately. Opposing emotions should never be nearby.

You may be confused about how you can have opposing emotions. Look at an example of a mother-daughter relationship. A mother loves her daughter to death. But the daughter always has a habit or two that the mother despises. If the feelings of love are put together with what she feels towards these bad habits, she will neither be able to express her love properly nor will she be able to be strict against the bad habits.

3. Avoid False Negativity

When you’re struggling to build connections in your emotions, you can be misled by false negativity. It is usually prevalent in negative emotions.

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What happens is that you continue to relate events that aren’t even close. For example, one day you failed to finish your work on time. The next day you have a bad hair day. You connect it all to your bad time management. While that may be true for the first case, it isn’t necessarily relevant to the latter.

You have to be extremely mindful and focused to avoid false negatives. Mastering the identification of emotions will help you out here, too.

4. Maintain Boundaries

Some emotions will bother you more than the rest. While that is totally normal, what isn’t is if you just cannot shift your attention away from one compartment.

You have to maintain some limits and boundaries so that the other compartments aren’t left unattended. Overthinking one part of your emotions can give you false sadness or false happiness, neither of which is good for your mental state.

The Don’ts of Compartmentalizing Emotions

When you’re focused on doing things right, it is easy to get pulled into a toxic routine without realization. In this process, two specific mindsets can prevail. Do your best to keep them out of your routine.

1. Avoid Multitasking

This happens mostly when you’re just starting off with the process. Since there’s a lot to deal with in your head, your focus keeps wandering from one compartment to another. You’ll either want to go through different compartments at once, or your mind will be finding it hard to disconnect certain emotions from others.

All that you can do in this case is practice. Consciously identify when your mind is doing this. You can practice meditation to get better at maintaining your focus. As time goes on, you’ll get over this issue.

One of the main aims of compartmentalizing emotions is to increase your mindfulness. Force yourself to strictly keep all attention on one compartment unless you’ve fully dealt with it.

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2. Stay Away From Denial

While you’re avoiding multitasking, you may unintentionally keep avoiding a few compartments in particular. These are usually emotions that are very strong or hurtful.

Denial is only going to make it harder for you to deal with this part of your mind. You can keep the dark thoughts in a faraway corner in your mind so that you’re not constantly bothered. However, make sure to find the right time to confront these feelings.

If you ignore some emotions for a long period, they can lead to lifelong mental issues. For example, if something bad happened in your past, you will continuously avoid anything connected with it. But since you haven’t confronted these feelings, they will keep getting stronger and stronger. One day, this compartment will burst open and take over your mind. You’ll become a different person when you’re forcefully faced with these emotions.

To avoid a situation where you won’t know how to handle your thoughts, you should come face to face with them bravely, on your terms, and at the right time.

Conclusion

In the end, keep one thing in mind:

The way you deal with emotions is unique to you. So, there is no right or wrong way to compartmentalize them either.

With that being said, you must also stay cautious. There is a fine line in the process that will either encourage your social identity to grow or lead you to issues such as multiple personality disorder.

With the above tips and the final goal in mind, your brain will unconsciously lead you to the right path.

Let your brain get in the flow, give yourself a boost, and get ready to enjoy the benefits of compartmentalizing emotions!

More Tips on Handling Emotions

Featured photo credit: Juli Kosolapova via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

We are given life with many opportunities to make it everything we want it to be and more. If you find that you’ve slipped into living a boring life, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and what you can start doing now to make it more interesting.

Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list can definitely make any day or life more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaningful) one!

1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

Imagine being a young child. Life was never boring, was it? That’s because children harness every ounce of creativity they have in order to try new things.

What would your 7-year-old self want to do in this moment? Maybe they’d pick up a paintbrush and try to paint the landscape around them. May they would go outside and build something with random materials around the yard. Maybe they would raid the fridge and put together a dish they’ve never seen before.

Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play and use your creativity to its fullest.

2. Go Play With Kids

Speaking of little kids, if you have your own (or a niece or nephew), go play with them!

Kids are absolutely hilarious, so it’s simply impossible to be bored when you’re around them. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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3. Play Cell Phone Roulette

You’ll need at least one buddy for this, but this is a great way to avoid a boring life. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one, and (if it feels right) call the person.

You could spark an incredible catch-up session or, at the very least, remind someone that you’re thinking of them. Neither are boring.

4. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

This is a great part of a gratitude practice. We often forget to thank the people who do things for us, especially if we have come to expect those things. For example, have you ever thought about thanking your mom for that weekly phone call? Or thanking your sister for always sending you a homemade gift on your birthday?

Take time to think of at least 5 people you would like to say thank you to and write out a card. You could even write them out for random people in your neighborhood, like the local librarian, a teacher at your child’s school, or the accountant at your bank.

Anyone and everyone appreciates being thanked for their efforts.

5. Sign up for a Class

Nowadays, there are classes for everything. To make it as interesting as possible, try finding one that you wouldn’t normally consider doing, like salsa lessons, improv, or boxing.

Otherwise, try to find a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, like pottery, photography, or a foreign language course.

What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people, which will add even more interest to your life!

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6. Talk to Your Grandparents About Their Lives

We often underestimate how interesting the elderly are. You can rest assured that any elderly person you talk to will not have had a boring life! Take some time to talk to them and hear their interesting stories. You may even find that this motivates you to go out and find your own interesting experiences.

7. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage. If you’re not into comedy, find an open mic that focuses on reading poetry or short stories and bring your own. These groups tend to be incredibly supportive for anyone who is willing to be brave enough to get up and try.

8. Do Something for Someone Else

Showing kindness automatically makes you feel good, but doing these small acts will also help to ensure that you don’t have a boring life. Try doing one or two things each week that are outside your normal routine.

For example, you could make a batch of cookies for the mailperson or help your elderly neighbor organize one of their rooms. There are a million ways to show kindness to those around you. Tap into your creativity and find your own or use some of the ideas from the image below[1].

Do random acts of kindness to avoid living a boring life.

    9. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

    If you have your own place, there is always a project that needs to get done. Many people simply pay for someone else to do it in order to avoid the hassle, but taking on a DIY project can make a boring life much more interesting.

    It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Maybe you repaint an old vase or build a spice shelf out of used pallets.

    If you need ideas, you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

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    10. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

    This will give you something to look forward to. One study actually found that most travelers are happiest before a vacation[2]. Therefore, simply planning a trip will boost your mood, even if you can’t actually take the vacation right now.

    Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is also fun and relaxing!

    11. Go People Watching

    Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops, and train stations are great for this!) and just observe[3].

    People are infinitely interesting. Try to imagine what their lives are like, what they’re thinking, or where they’re going. You’ll never know if you’re right, but it will give you something to focus on and also help you practice empathy.

    12. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

    You can try that new Moroccan restaurant down the street and pick the most interesting dish on the menu. Or, you can raid your own fridge and throw together a dish you’ve never made before.

    If you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try picking up a new fruit or veggie from the produce section. You may find a new food that you love!

    13. Dance

    You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

    If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public or join a flash mob.

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    14. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

    Reading a good book can keep you occupied for hours. It will also transport you to a life that isn’t your own, and one that likely will be the opposite of a boring life. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from those pages.

    Pick on of these inspirational books to start reading: 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

    15. Spend Some Time With People You Care About

    Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or bring a coffee over to your parent’s place and catch up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll avoid boredom.

    16. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to

    Some people are bored by museums, so if that’s you, skip to the next one. However, if you love art, history, or culture, this one is for you!

    17. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

    This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

    Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then, start taking your first step to make it happen.

    Now, go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

    More on How to Quit a Boring Life

    Featured photo credit: Alex Alvarez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] FECAVA: Random Acts of Kindness
    [2] Applied Research in Quality of Life: Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday
    [3] Psychology Today: The Expert’s Guide to People Watching

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