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How To Deal With Negative Emotions

Updated on August 7, 2016

As if it wasn't enough to have to delve so much energy into having negative thoughts, and then deal with the physical fallout from the associated feelings, I have to put so much energy in remembering to do my thinking strategies and then having enough positivity to carry out those strategies. The problem being that I am trying to counteract a lifetime of conditioned behaviour in a period that really wants to me to do what I do naturally. It’s so difficult to remember to mindful in the first place, let alone being mindful as a strategy because I’m conditioned to be negative, to dwell and to overthink.

That said I make the effort because I see the benefits in every other aspect in my life. Being mindful helps me to recondition all the areas of my life that have suffered because of my upbringing and my life experiences.

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Sadness

Sadness is an emotional experience that is inherent to life itself. When sadness becomes prolonged I know it is time to mindfully notice the impact that sadness is having on my life. While no emotion is good or bad or right or wrong, there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy expressions of emotion. Even though sometimes I don’t have direct control over my emotional experience, I do have the ability to choose how I want to respond to that emotion.

When I find myself in the middle of a period of sadness that is causing me unnecessary suffering I step back and recognise it. When I’m tired of feeling that way I try to take proactive steps towards releasing the sadness. It has taken me a good while to try to get anywhere near skilled at identifying, managing, and responding to emotions of sadness because sadness can be silent as well as physically responding to it in terms of tearing up.

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Guilt

Guilt is an emotion that is shrouded by negativity. In terms of my own guilt I can say that it comes in many forms and for a variety of different reasons. My guilt fuels my anxiety, or rather, I am anxious because of my guilt. I know that the guilty feelings are my own doing, I mean no one else can make me feel guilty, but I have been at a loss to understand why until recently. My anxiety stems from my guilt because it’s my defence mechanism. Anxiety is protecting me from having to deal with all the feelings.

Guilt can be useful in keeping us accountable but in letting it become all-consuming guilt, in terms of coping with everything to do with my loved one’s alcoholism, it has gone beyond manageable levels and has been found to repeatedly kick me in a negative way infiltrating every aspect of my life. My need for pushing that all-consuming guilt out of my conscious mind and into my subconscious mind has ensured I have become anxious.

I now know that I have to recognise the guilty thoughts and try to think about the situations in a more positive mind, not beating me up. The situations I find myself in with regard to my parent’s alcoholism is not due to my actions, inactions or my thoughts. I have to remember that I am conditioned to misinterpret my reasoning and I have a tendency to not even question the logic of my own conclusions.

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Anger

I don’t feel that I’m naturally predisposed to being angry but I do know that I can express frustrations in an unacceptable way. I don’t want all the frustrating episodes to accumulate and have an effect on conditioning my natural response to frustration and situations out of my control. I deal with it by recognising anger when it manifests, understand why it’s happening and actually learn to care for that emotion by ‘boxing it off’ in a protective layer. I have learned to take care of my emotion and in doing so I believe that the issues that causes the frustration becomes less and less and the frustrating angry feeling becomes lighter. I become less dangerous to other, and myself, with my words. Just by letting it be and taking a step back I am able to have more control in my reactions to outside influences.

Negative emotions make you aware

Negative emotions protect us, making us aware of dangers and let us know something is not working for us.

Positive emotions can make me more carefree. It’s good to be carefree but this also carries some threats: less aware of risks happening in my life and unconcerned of how your behavior is negatively impacting others.

By being aware of my emotions I can act mindfully to ensure that I am being the best possible version of me that I can be.

Negative emotions are important for well-being

Negative feelings are an important part of life. Research shows that experiencing and accepting negative emotions is vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment. “Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to psychological well-being,” says psychologist Jonathan M. Adler of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

That's why when I'm mindful I address the thoughts carefully by paying attention to them, understanding them and caring for them. Negative emotions are so important but I don't allow them to control me or my reactions.

Negativity is a motivator

I don't change because I'm feeling good, I change because I feel something is wrong, is making me unhappy and I can bear it no longer.

Negative emotions prompt me to act upon my current circumstance and generate positive changes because they tell me I'm not happy with the path my life is taking and when they reach a certain level of intensity, they motivate me to act. Therefore, I listen to them as soon as I start to feel them in order to make the changes need to to remain in control and have choices.

It is important that I understand that I am a human being who feels both positive and negative emotions and to understand when and how to use my emotions properly, in order to build the life I endeavour to have.

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    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Good article. Recently I've read some interesting notions by Marshall Rosenberg, developer of Nonviolent Communication, about positive and negative emotions. He says everyone has the same basic needs, such as for air, food, sleep, shelter, acceptance, inclusion, community, appreciation, respect, self-respect, security, autonomy, empathy, love, and so on. Positive emotions happen when needs are satisfied; negative emotions happen when needs are not satisfied. (Google on: nvc needs inventory) (Google on: nvc feelings inventory) (Google on: Marshall Rosenberg shame guilt anger) Rosenberg also has a number of Nonviolent Communication workshops on YouTube.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This is a very good article. I love how you explained how you deal with and control your negative emotions. Very helpful.

    • mchllhwgt profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle How 

      2 years ago

      Thank you. :)

    • profile image

      Erorantes 

      2 years ago

      I like your hub. Welcome to hub pages. I am looking forward reading some of your future hubs. Thank you for writing with passion and love Miss mchllhwgt. I was reading your profile; I love England. Anything from England is a joy reading.

    • mchllhwgt profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle How 

      2 years ago

      Thank you both. I appreciate the comments

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful writing. I can tell I'm going to enjoy following you.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I feel like you sometimes. My natural inclination is to the negative emotions, due to my past experiences and my life's circumstances. It takes a concerted effort to turn things around. I know how to do it, and I know the benefits that will come when I do. I battle with anxiety and depression daily. Anger, guilt, and sadness are regular bed fellows. When I get tired of feeling them, I do what it takes to change it. I suppose this can be termed a kind of mindfulness.

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