What do you do when you have a problem? Do you tend to deal with it immediately without thinking too much about the consequences of your actions, or do you prefer to hide it for days in the hope that it will resolve itself? A study conducted at the University of Illinois warns us that when we try to hide or repress our emotions in the case of problematic situations, our anxiety levels can skyrocket.
To reach these conclusions, the researchers recruited 179 people, who had to complete a series of questionnaires aimed at assessing how they would manage their emotions and the level of anxiety when faced with certain problems. Analyzing the results, the psychologists found that people who applied cognitive re-evaluation were also able to reduce anxiety-related problems. Conversely, those who repressed their feelings and sought an escape from problems saw the level of anxiety increase.
What is cognitive re-evaluation?
As the name suggests, cognitive reassessment consists of analyzing a situation by trying to reconsider the problem in a different perspective, retrace our steps and see if there is any significant detail that we have missed. Obviously, this strategy belongs to proactive people; that is, those who tend to face problems.
But it is better to take a step back to understand this technique in depth. Whenever we are faced with a situation we make a quick assessment of it. As you can imagine, this evaluation is never 100% objective and aspects such as our experience, emotions, expectations, beliefs, attitudes always interfere ...
Starting from the data we get from the environment and our experience, we form an idea of what the problem we have to face is. Sometimes we formulate the problem incorrectly, because we do not want or are unable to recognize it, other times we formulate it well but we lack data to help us solve it. In both cases, if we pretend that the problem does not exist and repress our feelings, we will only create a vicious cycle that fuels anxiety.
On the contrary, if we retrace our steps and re-evaluate the initial situation in another perspective, we can find new clues that allow us to move forward and this will help reduce the anxiety related to the problem.
How to apply cognitive re-evaluation?
First, we must remember that emotions are not our enemy, we must not try to suppress them. Instead, you have to live them freely by also giving them a name. Knowing how you feel about the problem you are facing is an advantage because it will allow us to have a more objective attitude.
Secondly, we will retrace our steps, and to do so it is useful to ask ourselves some of these questions:
- Is the problem I asked myself the real problem? It may seem trivial, but the truth is that very few times it is possible to formulate the problem in its reality, due to myopia or fear of facing reality.
- What are the details of the situation that I overlooked? It can be useful to write them down on paper, no matter how trivial they may seem.
- What resources do I have to solve the problem? It may be that in the last few days or weeks your situation has changed and you are not aware of it.
- If I were ... (another person), how would I solve the problem? Often putting yourself in the place of another person, who has a completely different way of dealing with life from yours, will allow you to see the situation in another perspective.