Ways to cope with negative emotions

Washington: We spend majority of our life dealing with various emotions. Now, a study co-authored by an Indian-origin researcher has found that people choose to respond differently depending on how intense an emotion is.

When confronted with high-intensity negative emotions, they tend to choose to turn their attention away, but with something lower-intensity, they tend to think it over and neutralize the feeling that way.

Emotions are useful—for example, fear tells your body to get ready to escape or fight in a dangerous situation. But emotions can also become problematic – for example, for people with depression who can``t stop thinking about negative thoughts, said Gal Sheppes of Stanford University, who co-wrote the study with Stanford colleagues Gaurav Suri and James J. Gross, and Susanne Scheibe of the University of Groningen.

"Luckily, our emotions can be adjusted in various ways," he said.

Sheppes and his colleagues studied two main ways that people modulate their emotions - by distracting themselves or by reappraising the situation.

For example, if you``re in the waiting room at the dentist, you might distract yourself from the upcoming unpleasantness by reading about celebrity break-ups – "Maybe that``s why the magazines are there in the first place," Sheppes said – or you might talk yourself through it: "I say, ok, I have to undergo this root canal, but it will make my health better, and it will pass, and I``ve done worse things, and I can remind myself that I``m ok."

The study will be detailed in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science.


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