Trying to feel an emotion that opposes a painful emotion is a powerful aid to displacing the emotion from your mind. For example, trying to feel optimistic is a way to reduce anxiety. I call this technique "positive displacement". Helen Keller once expressed a similar concept by saying
face to the sunshine and
you cannot see
A similar concept to positive displacement is discussed in the book The Art of Happiness by Dr. Howard Cutler and Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama. They write:
Within Buddhist practice, the cultivation of certain specific positive mental qualities such as patience, tolerance, kindness and so on can act as specific antidotes to negative states of mind such as anger, hatred and attachment.
In order to displace negative emotions it is helpful to identify the self talk leading to those emotions, then determining what core belief is associated with that self talk and to come up with alternative self talk that creates an opposing emotion. For example if the negative self talk one has when one tries to resist food is but I'll die if I don't eat, the core emotion in that thought is pessimism. To counter it one should come up with an optimistic statement such as if I lose weight I'll feel better.
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