Emotion Focused Coping

Traditionally, the word emotion was termed a negative term. Intense emotions were considered dysfunctional and irrational. Annette Stanton, a positive psychologist, and her colleagues spent many years working on emotional-focused coping. This approach states that coping through an emotional approach might carry an adaptive potential; the realization depends on the situational context, the interpersonal milieu, and the attributes of the individual. The emotional approach involves an individual actively moving towards the stressful situation rather than avoiding it.

The neurobiological system governs both the emotional approach and emotional avoidance behavior. There are two systems: the behavioral activation system, which helps an individual identify and work on their emotions to get a positive outcome, and the behavioral inhibition system, which enables an individual to avoid negative events and emotions.

The emotional-focused coping approach has two distinct processes: (1) emotional processing, or attempts to understand emotions; and (2) reflecting emotional expression, or the free and intentional display of feelings.

Emotional Processing Emotional Expression
I realize that my feelings are valid and important. I feel free to express my emotions.
I take time to figure out what I am really feeling. I take time to express my emotions.
I delve into my feelings to get a thorough understanding of them. I allow myself to express my emotions.
I acknowledge my emotions. I let my feelings come out freely.

When we experience emotions such as anger, sadness, and jealousy, we naturally tend to deny and try to suppress those emotions that remain unresolved, affecting us consciously or unconsciously. Acceptance is a conscious effort to acknowledge difficult situations and emotions. accepting completely instead of ignoring, denying, avoiding, or wishing that the situation would be different. When emotions are surfacing, it is essential to radically accept those emotions to regulate those emotions, challenge the irrational thoughts, and identify the events that are causing those emotions. Which can result in change-oriented goals to help an individual resolve

Talk it out.

Strong social support can help an individual overcome and talk about what they are feeling. Talking to someone trustworthy and empathetic can help you openly acknowledge and express your emotions. Avoid talking to people who generalize, are inadequate listeners, are solution givers and give advice. Talking to such people can be exhausting and overwhelming. It is better to talk to someone who is caring and sensitive to your concerns or a mental health professional.


Journaling is an excellent way to address painful emotions. Journaling will help you cover every detail of the event and its emotions. It helps an individual to explore and express their emotions and identify potential actions to change their emotional perspective on the situation. Journaling can help the individual challenge their distorted thinking and help them understand and resolve their negative emotions. For example, you can write, “I am upset and annoyed that this happened to me, but at the same time I feel bad for having such emotions.” Anger is a natural emotion, and “I have the right to feel angry about this unfair situation that happened to me.”


Forgiveness is often viewed as a difficult and unfair thing to do, especially when the pain or hurt is greater. However, forgiveness is one of the best emotional-focused coping strategies that can be used to make peace with ourselves. Many research studies have suggested that practicing forgiveness can improve social and mental health. Forgiving someone is seen as tolerating; in some cases, it is seen as weak or giving up, but that is not true. Forgiveness simply means that you have dealt with those emotions internally and decided to move on with your life. In some situations, you need to forgive yourself instead of putting the blame on yourself.

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