Change Negative Emotions Before You Express Them in Ways that Hurt Yourself and Others

Are you having issues with negative emotions that you would like to change?

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Every day, we are confronted with circumstances that trigger negative emotions.
Every day, we are confronted with circumstances that trigger negative emotions. | Source

Emotions are subjective, they come and go with our changing circumstances in life. Understanding how they work and where they come from is the first step in bringing them under control. Negative emotions are most often experienced as automatic reactions to triggers that occur as we go about our daily activities.

For example, disappointment is the automatic reaction when we don't receive a phone call we are expecting. The trigger point is the unmet expectation. The automatic reaction of disappointment comes from thinking that the person we had hoped to hear from has decided that they do not want to speak with us at that particular moment.

Disappointment is changed to appreciation when we change our assumption to positive rather than negative. Thinking that the person does not want to speak to us is a negative assumption. When we change to a positive assumption, thinking that something kept them from calling. Maybe they are ill, or were tied up with business at work. They really did want to call, but couldn't for some reason. When they do finally call, we appreciate them and are concerned for their welfare rather than being angry that they did not call.

Negative Emotions and Their Opposites

Negative Emotion
The Opposite
Change Action
Anger
Gratitude
Count Blessings
Fear
Faith
Prayer
Stress
Simplicity
Relaxation
Jealousy
Acceptance
Find Common Interests
Embarrassment
Humor
Laughter
Sorrow
Joy
Sharing Memories
Worry
Excitement
Pre-planning
Overwhelmed
Organized
Charts, Graphs, and Lists
Hate
Love
Looking for the Good
Disappointment
Appreciation
Positive Assumptions
Misery
Happiness
Service to Others

Practical Application

In real life, it works as follows:

Stop Anger with Gratitude

Anger is a strong emotion. It occurs when you are faced with situations or behaviors that you do not like or agree with. Stop anger by finding something about the situation that you are grateful for.

Stop Fear with Faith

Fear results from seeing or hearing something that you feel threatens your present or future security. Your body's reaction to fear is the inability to act. In order to go forward, find something about the situation to believe in.

Stop Stress with Simplicity

Stress is your body's reaction to a situation that you do not like or understand. The event is seen as threatening or undesirable. Counteract the stress reaction by simplifying to find the factor that is stressful. The stress minimizes and you relax enough that you can go forward.

Stop Jealousy with Acceptance

Jealousy comes when you compare another person's strengths with your weaknesses. You always come up on the short end. Jealousy leads to covetousness, or wanting what someone else has. Covetousness leads to contention, or fighting. Stop jealousy by finding something you have in common with the other person, then you will accept each other as equals.

Stop Embarrassment with Humor

Embarrassment happens when you make a mistake in front of others, and think that they condemn you for it. To stop embarrassment, see the mistake as funny rather than a serious problem. Laugh at yourself and others will laugh with you.

In order to change our negative emotions, we need to recognize the thought patterns that lead to them.
In order to change our negative emotions, we need to recognize the thought patterns that lead to them. | Source

Stop Sorrow with Joy

Sorrow comes when you focus on what you have lost or could have had. Sorrow will change to joy when you think of the positive things you now have because of the loss.

Stop Worry with Excitement

Worry comes from thinking "What If..." bad things happen to you or someone you love. Replace worry with excitement by changing the "What if..." statements to positive.

Stop Being Overwhelmed by Being Organized

Feeling overwhelmed comes from seeing more things to do than you have time in which to do them, especially when you face new challenges or monumental tasks. To stop feeling overwhelmed, break the task or challenge into small segments you can accomplish in short periods.

Stop Hate with Love

Hate is the result of finding something you do not like in another person, then dwelling on that dislike. In order to stop hate, find something positive about the person and dwell upon their positive characteristics. Then your hate will change to love.

Stop Disappointment with Appreciation

Disappointment comes from expectations that are not fulfilled. You want something to happen and for some reason, it does not. Stop feelings of disappointment by finding something about the situation to appreciate, or be glad about.

Stop Misery with Happiness

Misery happens when you think about the way you wish life would be, those "if Only" statements that leave you feeling that life is unfair and there is nothing you can do about it. Change these feelings to happiness by finding small reasons to do good things for others.

Work on the Strongest Emotion First

Because of the power that negative emotions have when they arise, the first step is recognizing what it is that you are feeling. For most people, anger is the most prominent. It is a secondary emotion that comes as a result of other emotions that have not been resolved. There may be many layers that are not readily recognized.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What makes you angry?

What do you do when you are angry?

What are the physical sensations associated with your anger?

How does your anger affect those in your family and workplace?

What is the payoff associated with your anger?

Once you are able to answer these questions, you will grow in your understanding of what is happening with this particular emotion. The more information you gather, the more you are in a position to change this difficult emotion. Your thought patterns will become evident as you give yourself room to make choices that you hadn't made before.

In his book, Getting Past What You Will Never Get Over, John F. Westfall speaks of an experience he had with a gentleman who was chronically angry. He asked the man how much time he needed each day to express his anger. The man thought about it and said that he needed two hours.

Westfall then had him decide on the time of day when he was to express that anger for two full hours. He could not do any more or less than that. During those two hours, he was to go someplace where others would not be disturbed. He could shout, swear, jump up and down, pound, punch, or hit objects as needed.

They met again after two weeks. The man was having difficult filling his two hours. He found that after expressing his anger that much every day, that it had diminished considerably. They determined that he only needed half an hour each day for him to express his anger. Eventually, the man was able to keep his expression of anger to a minimum few minutes a day.

Additional Tools to Help You Change Your Emotions

There are a number of tools we can use to help change our emotions if focusing on their opposites is not successful. These are as follows:

  • Visualization - think of a peaceful place you like to be
  • Thought Stopping - simply say "Stop" when you have bothersome thoughts
  • Support Networking - call someone or visit them
  • Shift of Focus - thinking of something different to distract from the negative emotion
  • Time - set aside a certain amount of time to feel the emotion
  • Relaxation - droop the shoulders, allow the muscles to release their tension
  • Journaling - writing down what is happening and the feelings experiencing
  • Music - listen to music
  • Covenants - make an agreement with someone in exchange for their help
  • Deep Breathing - stand up straight and breathe in as far as you can, then exhale
  • Communication - talk about how you feel

Keep a record of your progress. Write down which emotion you are working on, what you are doing to change it, and what happens in the process. The more you learn about yourself, your thought patterns, and how your body works, the better able you will be to stop the negative emotions that are giving your problems.

Get feedback from your friends and family during the process. Find out if they notice any differences in the way you are acting and communicating with them. You might be surprised at the things that they notice, and how it makes them feel when they are around you.

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Comments 14 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Very. very, very useful. There are more victims of negative emotions than we care to admit. I really like the photo blurbs. My favorite is: think of the positve things you now have because of the loss. Good work, Denise!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, MsDora. You are right, there are many who are victims of negative emotions, including ourselves and our loved ones. There is always room for improvement in this area!


Joanne M Olivieri 3 years ago

I know I have the disappointment issue many times so this hub is very helpful to me. I always say that we need to shed our expectations of others so I need to listen to my own words. Voted Up!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks for reading and commenting Joanne. Disappointment is a tough issue, especially when we have high expectations! One counselor that I worked with put it this way, "Ideals are stars to guide you by, not sticks to beat yourself with." When I relaxed my expectations of myself, I was able to do the same for others. Best wishes to you!


Mary Merriment profile image

Mary Merriment 3 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

Almost everyone I know gets wrapped up in negative thinking. It took a long time for me to realize that these negative thought habits were a good reason for most of my own disorders. Re-programming the brain does take time. But it is with great information and tools like this hub that helps people who want to change achieve such.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

You are right, Mary, it does take time, and once it is done, that is not the end. New issues always arise that bump us back into our old habits, and we have to do it again. Thankfully, it gets easier each time, and there are times when all we need is a simple reminder. I have found that helping others tends to keep me more on track as well. I appreciate you reading, and thanks for the insightful comment!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

You are right, Mary, it does take time, and once it is done, that is not the end. New issues always arise that bump us back into our old habits, and we have to do it again. Thankfully, it gets easier each time, and there are times when all we need is a simple reminder. I have found that helping others tends to keep me more on track as well. I appreciate you reading, and thanks for the insightful comment!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

You are right, Mary, it does take time, and once it is done, that is not the end. New issues always arise that bump us back into our old habits, and we have to do it again. Thankfully, it gets easier each time, and there are times when all we need is a simple reminder. I have found that helping others tends to keep me more on track as well. I appreciate you reading, and thanks for the insightful comment!


maramerce profile image

maramerce 3 years ago from United States

Wow, great hub Denise! I especially enjoyed the charts. I've been thinking about writing an article about expectations. Most of the time when people have disappointments it's because they have rigid expectations of others. They don't realize they are causing their own discomfort by either having unrealistic or rigid expectations of others. You can either expect other people to always get it right and be disappointed and angry all the time or you can learn to be more flexible and happier as a result.

Also, I can't say this enough: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Repeat: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Like you said, when someone doesn't call you like you expect them to, don't take it as a personal slight. Be understanding that the person either has a trait or flaw that makes them sometimes flaky or that they had something else going on. Don't make it about yourself. That's faulty thinking. Nobody's perfect. We all need a measure of grace in this world to survive. Wonderful hub!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way! I had high expectations of myself and my family members, and this lead to much disappointment and anger. For me, it took mental health treatment to recognize and change my expectations, so that I could live with myself, first and foremost, and then so that I could live with my family.

It takes someone like you, maramerce, to "tell it like it is" and help people to understand that our own feelings get in the way of our relationships, as we think primarily from our own point of view, rather than putting ourselves in other's shoes, and looking from their point of view. Thanks for reading and commenting!


nnms profile image

nnms 3 years ago from India

This is great. I lack verbal communication, which i have to work out.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

You are making a step in the right direction, nnms, by writing your feelings about this hub. You will progress far as you write for Hub Pages and interact with this supportive community. Take care and thanks for commenting!


Easy Exercise profile image

Easy Exercise 2 years ago from United States

Denise,

This is powerful stuff and very well written. Thank you! I am always amazed at the lack of education we provide to our children on dealing with our emotions, psychology and philosophy. These items should be fundamental to help all of us achieve more through positive thoughts.

A long time ago, life hit me with everything negative. I made myself listen to a positive affirmation tape every single day. It made a big difference in my outlook and productivity. Luckily I have climbed past that mountain and am now on a more terrain once again. The mountains we must climb in our lives can only be successfully climbed with a supportive system of friends and family and a strong harness on our emotions.

Thank you so for a GREAT hub. Voted up!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Easy Exercise! All of us go through these types of experiences in our lives when we feel like we just aren't getting where we need to be. As we learn from them, and put those things in place that will help us be successful, we are able to go much further in life. I appreciate you sharing your experiences in using these principles and how they helped you in your life. My best to you!

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