A Case for Sweeping Destructive Feelings Underneath the Rug

A Case for Sweeping Destructive Feelings Underneath the Rug


Suppressing damaging ideas may enhance psychological well being. This isn’t a typo. Neither is it a lingering perception from my WASPY upbringing. It’s the findings of a brand new examine printed in Science entitled Enhancing psychological well being by coaching the suppression of undesirable ideas. Opposite to accepted narratives about psychological well being, researchers from the College of Cambridge discovered {that a} stiff higher lip might have psychological well being advantages.

Father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud noticed, “Unexpressed feelings won’t ever die. They’re buried alive and can come forth later in uglier methods.”

Writer of The Physique Retains the Rating: Mind, Thoughts, and Physique within the Therapeutic of Trauma Bessel van der Kolk has the same tackle taping down feelings, “So long as you retain secrets and techniques and suppress data, you’re basically at conflict with your self.”

However what if assuming that speaking about damaging feelings and dredging up depressing experiences from the previous is the one approach to rob them of their energy is misguided? What if ignoring sure ideas isn’t maladaptive however can truly be a wholesome coping technique?

Researchers on the Medical Analysis Council (MRC) Cognition and Mind Sciences Unit within the UK educated 120 volunteers from 16 nations to suppress ideas and worries about damaging occasions. They discovered that not solely did these ideas turn into much less vivid, they have been additionally much less anxiousness upsetting. Furthermore, individuals reported fascinated by these feared occasions much less. Counter to traditional knowledge, there was no paradoxical enhance in worry or rebound anxiousness. Moreover, individuals who continued to observe the thought-suppression method continued to expertise psychological well being advantages. Of notice, most of the individuals within the examine had severe psychological well being points together with melancholy, anxiousness and post-traumatic stress dysfunction.

In Winter Notes on Summer time Impressions, Fyodor Dostoevsky famously wrote “Attempt to pose for your self this process: not to consider a polar bear, and you will notice that the cursed factor will come to thoughts each minute.” The extra we attempt to ignore polar bears and pink elephants, the considering goes, the extra they occupy emotional actual property. Harvard psychologist professor Daniel Wegner, PhD termed this phenomenon “ironic course of idea.” Wegner theorized that once we strive not to consider one thing, one a part of our thoughts efficiently avoids the forbidden thought, however one other half “checks in” from time to time to guarantee that the thought just isn’t arising—subsequently, sarcastically, bringing it to thoughts.

The excellent news is that ignoring pink elephants and bears could be simpler than Wegner initially thought. A examine printed in Psychological Science entitled Taming the White Bear discovered that studying to disregard issues is a robust device for serving to individuals focus.

Figuring out what to search for is clearly essential. The researchers additionally discovered that studying what to not search for issues too. Members who have been advised what to disregard have been extra environment friendly on the process. This examine highlights a key level about consideration. The rationale we’re in a position to deal with one thing is not only due to the eye we’re giving it but in addition due to our mind’s means to dam out different competing stimuli.

Whereas trying to find “Ts” and taming white bears could be simpler than beforehand thought, these findings have software in the actual world.

Going about your enterprise whereas passively making an attempt to disregard what’s in your thoughts is unlikely to work. Cease and acknowledge what’s bothering you and make a concerted effort to dam it out.

Selecting a robust and absorbing diversion will help you block out the undesirable white bear. Specializing in one thing else or another person will assist you tune out the remaining.

Some analysis has discovered that asking individuals to easily put aside half an hour a day for worrying permits them to keep away from worrying throughout the remainder of their day. Subsequent time an undesirable thought comes up, simply attempt to inform your self, “I’m not going to consider that till subsequent Wednesday afternoon.”

I want you all the perfect,

Dr. Samantha Boardman




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