I hope this thread will become a stickie, so that newcomers can immediately find relief. Since I joined the nofap forums, I noticed often questions that follow the below pattern: I feel lonely/sad/anxious/depressed. What should I do to feel better? I will attempt to provide you with a method for relief and healing from such feelings, one that should bring you back up to a state of contentment. Introduction Every now and then we all experience negative feelings. Many of us have not been taught in our childhood how to cope with such emotions and the pain they inflict, so we developed ways to cope with them, such as addictions and compulsions. I’m talking here about not being taught how to handle your emotions up to dealing with trauma. Loneliness Loneliness occurs when your expectations do not match reality in terms of socialisation. We experience loneliness when culture/society imposes on us a specific standard that we cannot fulfil. The best example is social media. It makes us compare to others not only in terms of looks or travels, but also in terms of the extent of our circle of friends; seeing a friend of ours having fun without us can be gut wrenching. Sadness We experience sadness, similar to loneliness, due to expectations. We expect situations go into a specific direction, but they don’t. We feel sad because of loss or failure. Loss of a friend, death, failure to make ourselves acknowledged by others, failure in achieving goals. Anxiety In its full form, anxiety is identical to fear, to worry. We fear that we will lose friends, lose our composure, worry about money, worry about relapsing. We may be fearful of others’ judgement, of rejection and many other potentially stressful situations. Rational or irrational, anxiety signals us that a stressful situation is likely to occur, not that it occurred. Depression The shortest and clearest description of depression is that it is a signal of the body to a prolonged stressful situation. It is a cry from our body and brain to change the environment. Experiencing loneliness, sadness and anxiety over long periods of time exhausts the body. It is our body’s only way to say “I’m hurt, change the environment!” Dealing with negative emotions We have two ways to deal with negative emotions, healthy and unhealthy. The unhealthy way to deal with negative emotions is through addictions and compulsions. The healthy way is to experience, acknowledge and process the emotions. Addictions and compulsions From simple neuroses (very simple example, stepping on a crack in the footpath with the right foot must be balanced with stepping on another crack with the left foot) to strong addictions (smoking, pornography, alcohol), addictions (substance) and compulsions (behaviour) are method of control seeking. When we suffer a trauma, such as the loss of a relationship, rejection, the death of someone we love, our brain is thrown into disarray by the strength of the negative emotions. Literally, the neural paths that dealt with emotional pain are the same ones that deal with physical pain, meaning that losing a relationship can feel like an arm being severed. While physical trauma is taken care of by medical doctors, many and most of the times when we have to deal with emotional trauma we are left to our own devices and, in all honesty, we’re pretty much immature in handling emotions: we suppress them, we man-up, we push them away not to be seen weak. The pain is still there, you come home from work or school and you’re in pain, you have no drive to go for a walk or clean the flat or cook, you just open the bottle, light up the cigarette or open the laptop’s browser. These substances and behaviours temporarily remove you from dealing with your painful emotions today. Tomorrow, same thing; the day after, the same. Eventually we develop a mechanism of dealign with the pain, trigger -> strong pain -> substance/behaviour -> pain subsides. We become addicted. Addictions and compulsions push the can down the road and lead to a state of severe depression and lack of joy. Addictions give us the sense of control, but in reality we delegate the control. Healthy processing of emotions The only, and I’m very careful when saying “only”, way out of the negative emotions is to experience, acknowledge and process them; I tend to like it to cataloguing your bank statements or sorting your drawers. Similar to physically treating a cut by cleaning, disinfecting and applying a plaster on it, plus allowing the wound to heal, the only way to heal emotional pain is to experience it, acknowledge it and process it, one emotion at a time. And we have a lot of emotional wounds that have now infected us! How to process emotional pain Step by step: 1. Make time in the evening, 20-30 minutes and sit alone in a quiet room. Turn off any potential interruption, including the phone. 2. Go through the events that happened during the day or even go back in time and remind yourself of a painful situation from the past. 3. Relive the said experiences, your brain will not make the distinction. You will feel your body warming up, you will start noticing various sensations in your body, such as cooling or warming of various body parts, nervousness in some parts of your body etc. 4. Sit with these sensations and the feelings, this is how the emotions get expressed. Try to identify which emotions they represent, is it rejection, humiliation, fear, loss? You may not know at first, it will come with time, but first sit with these sensations. Avoid thinking about the event, and just feel the sensations. You will probably have a sensations like dying, at times, but you won’t, it’s the experience of a very strong emotion. You are very likely to cry. Sometimes you will experience bouts of crying without even thinking of a particular situation; that’s fine, don’t push the feeling away. 5. After a short while (my longest such experience was 1 minute), your body will naturally come back to a normal state and you will feel a bit relieved. Don’t end the session, stay like this for the half hour, you may experience another such emotional burst. Journal, if you have the time and the composure, write what you believe you felt, not what you think a future reader of your journal may want to read. Conclusion After several such half hour sessions spread over a few weeks you will start to feel much better. You will naturally start to feel content with yourself, less anxiety and much less loneliness. Since it’s likely you have processed some emotions that are behind one of your addictions, it’s very likely that the addiction will simply go away and you’ll not have the urge for the behaviour or the substance; the pain is gone and the trigger is not going to have any effect, you don't need to soothe the wound. You will now notice that you have a lot of free time on your hand and you don’t know with what to fill it. Develop new, healthy habits: Start reading books Pick up a new hobby Learn playing an instrument Try to write a book Pick up a sport I hope you will find your way out of negative emotions in a very short amount of time! With the above process, it took me about 10 sessions in 3 weeks to feel content in my own skin.