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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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 January 15, 2021

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

The death of a loved one is, unfortunately, something most of us have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives, but grief and loss are not felt only when someone passes away. You may move through the stages of grief quickly or slowly, and you may even find yourself moving back to a stage you thought you had passed. People grieve differently, and there is no correct way to grieve in any situation.

A close friend or family member moving away, a divorce or breakup, loss of a job, as well as a number of other life experiences can cause feelings of grief or loss. Coping with loss is one of the most stressful and difficult things we have to deal with in life, but it is an experience everyone can relate to.

The Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are related to the common emotions we go through when we experience loss. This grief model was identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969[1].

However, because everyone is different, there is no “standard” way to react to grief and loss.[2]

Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeves and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally, and may not cry. You should try not to judge how a person experiences grief, as each person will experience it differently.

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Stages of grief

    Stage 1: Denial

    The feeling of shock when you first find out about a loss can lead to thinking, “This isn’t real.” This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion and a defense mechanism for your mind.[3]

    Stage 2: Anger

    Feelings of frustration and helplessness take hold during this stage. Thoughts like “It’s not fair” can be common. Even being angry at your loved one who died for “leaving you behind” is natural. This anger can spill over into your close relationships, and you can find yourself getting angry at those around you for no apparent reason.

    Stage 3: Bargaining

    During this stage, you are constantly thinking about what you could have done to prevent the loss. Thoughts of “What if…” and “If only…” replay in the mind. You might also try to bargain with a higher power in hopes of reversing the loss.

    Stage 4: Depression

    This stage brings the deep sadness you feel as you realize the loss is irreversible. You think about how your life will be affected by the loss. Crying, loss of appetite, feelings of loneliness, and unusual sleeping patterns are all signs of depression.

    Stage 5: Acceptance

    You accept the loss, and although you’re still sad, you slowly start to move on with your life and settle in to your new reality.

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    The stages of grief don’t have to be in this order, and you might not experience all stages. There is also no set time period for grieving, and some people take longer to heal than others.

    How to Heal From Grief and Loss

    When you’re experiencing those heartbreaking feelings and the stages of grief, it’s hard to believe that you’ll eventually heal, but you really will. Here are some ways to help the healing process:

    1. Confront the Painful Emotions

    Try not to bottle up your emotions. Allow yourself to express how you feel. It’s a healthy part of the grieving process.[4]

    If you’re not ready to get together with friends and family to talk about how you’re feeling, you can work with your emotions through mindful meditation, which can help create space for you to take a look at what you’re feeling and why.

    2. Talk About It

    When you’re ready and have entered the final stages of grief, talking to someone about the way you are feeling can be very helpful in starting the healing process. Often, people want to isolate themselves while grieving, but being around friends and family can help. Talking can also help you to confront your emotions if you have been unable to.

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    3. Keep up With Your Routine

    Loss can make you feel like your world has been turned upside down. As you move through the stages of grief, getting through your daily routine may feel more difficult, which can cause you to put self-care to the side. Keeping up with your routine can help bring back some normality and ensure you are showing yourself love and consideration.

    4. Take Care of Yourself

    When you are grieving and depressed, simple things like eating become an afterthought, and sleeping may become difficult. Taking care of yourself and your health will help with the healing process.

    While you may not do everything you were doing before your loss, try to do one act of self-care each day. It can be taking a long bath, going for a walk, making a nice meal, or even practicing a hobby once you feel ready. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it just needs to be something that makes you feel good.

    5. Don’t Make Any Major Decisions

    Grief clouds the ability to make sound decisions.[5] Try to postpone making any big decisions for a while or get guidance from close friends or family if you can’t put it off.

    Grief may also make you feel like making major changes to your life, such as quitting a job or ending a relationship. Try to remember that now is not the best time to make these changes, and hold off further consideration until you have moved through all of the stages of grief.

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    The Bottom Line

    It is important to heal after a loss so that you can get on with life. There is no set time period for grieving, but if you feel that your grief isn’t getting better, and you are unable to accept the loss, it might be time to seek advice from a mental health professional.

    In the meantime, accept that now is a difficult time, but that it will get better. Time will inevitably help and make the pain less powerful. One day, you will wake up and realize the pain is simply a small echo in the back of your mind and that you have successfully moved through each of the stages of grief. It’s time to get back to your life.

    More on Dealing With the Stages of Grief

    Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

    Reference

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