Here’s how to like yourself more often, according to a Harvard professor.

We hope you’re having a good day. Or not? Whatever. Did your boss yell at you, snap at a coworker, or you just don’t feel like it? We’ve all been there. That stressful moment when you realize that your mates are all way ahead of you. Then you start feeling like the whole universe turned its back on you. You ask, “what’s even wrong with me?” Are you a bad person? Not at all! According to a Harvard professor, feeling strong emotions is just part of being human, and how you decide to address them matters. Here’s her advise on how to like yourself more often than less.



Don’t Ignore Your Emotions

Professor Susan A. David, Ph.D is a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) speaker. Her research shows our emotions shape us, and studies how self-compassion motivates people to become more successful. In an article published on TED Ideas, Dr David demonstrates how you can treat yourself kindly — especially when you’re feeling downtrodden.

She uses this cake analogy in her TED Talk. There’s a delicious chocolate cake sitting inside the fridge. Yummy! Would you love a slice? Of course, but she says, if you try to ignore it, the less you’ll succeed in getting a slice. So go for it. The same goes for your emotions, too. The more you ignore your feelings, the stronger your feelings get.

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“Research on emotional suppression shows that when emotions are pushed aside or ignored, they get stronger,” she explains.

Ignoring your feelings doesn’t put you in control, you’ve made them control you. You just have to acknowledge that whatever you’re feeling is not good nor bad. Its just a feeling. Face it!



Get Into Observation Mode

She also encourages us to see our emotions as data. Analyze the source of your anger, fear, or stress. Be curious enough to ask about what is happening. Then ask yourself, “what are my emotions telling me?” Try as much as possible to understand what you’re feeling. Say to yourself, “I notice I’m feeling [your emotions].”

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Let’s say you’re feeling nervous about breaking up. Instead of saying, “I’m nervous about breaking up,” try saying “I notice I’m feeling nervous.” This lets you focus on why this emotion is making you feel this way. Here, you don’t judge yourself. Rather, you analyze and learn about the “why.”



Analyze Your Emotions

Take a deep breath and understand what’s causing you to feel that way, if you can do so, you’re halfway there.

“When you can get curious about your experiences, you’re 50 percent of the way to being self compassionate,” she says.

Now, figure out what’s the best course of action you have to take. And here’s what Dr David recommends you ask yourself: “which action will bring me towards my values?” That stressful feeling might be influenced by… who knows what. But if you’re able to identify the root cause of that feeling, then will you be able to tackle it head on.


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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Jan 15, 2022.

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