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How to overcome negative emotions

Updated on August 13, 2016

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

— William James

Negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, sadness and anger tend to play havoc with rational intuition. They narrow our thoughts and behavior causing devastating consequences on all aspects of life.

Pessimism makes us see the worst in all scenarios and it manifests itself over time into such a destructive pattern contributing to stress, anxiety, and depression. Negative emotions drain the vitality of life itself and holds you captive to unproductive thoughts.

Some examples of negative thinking

  • I would love to start a career as a freelancer. But trying to search for opportunities is so hectic. Maybe I should just stick to the job I have even though it is not very appealing.
  • This house looks great. It is totally my dream home and fits all my needs. But who would take all the trouble of moving stuff from the old place to the new? Looks like a lot of work.
  • This guy is amazing. He is thoughtful, kind and generous. A perfect life partner! But what if he changes over time and is not good enough for me? There's no way it will work.
  • I have top grades this year with all the hard work I put into my studies. But how does it matter if I am the topper or not if I am unable to prove myself again next year? Life is way too complicated.

And the list goes on, playing like a broken record in our head over and over again.

There are few things that you can do to convert negative thoughts to constructive ones for enabling positive results in your life. What we need to remember is we may not be able to implement these in our lives overnight. Slow and steady wins the race after all.

A little smile goes a long way

Our smile is one of our most potent tools to drive away negativity. A smile has a way of inducing happiness in our subconscious.

Get up in the morning, look into a mirror and give yourself a fabulous, genuine smile. It will instantly lift your spirits.

Research shows that smiling releases endorphins into our body, soothing our senses and reducing stress. It has a positive effect on our well-being and releases emotions that are bottled up. The more we smile, the more we break the pattern of thinking negatively and demanding our brain to conjure positive thoughts.

Making way for more humour in our life is incredibly contagious, helps in improving our immunity and boosts our self-esteem.

Jot down things that evoke happiness and strength

We often take things for granted and we forget that it is the little things in life that make it worth living. Noting down our strengths is a wonderful habit to develop and it is not a one-time activity either.

Make a list of all the good things that make you happy and grateful using a positive tone. Read this every day.

Few examples:

  1. I am blessed to have great friends
  2. I love to smile at myself
  3. I can work hard and prove myself
  4. I make a difference in every life around me
  5. I am trustworthy
  6. I am thankful for having loving parents
  7. I will always have hope
  8. I am happy to live one day at a time
  9. I am fortunate that I believe in myself
  10. I will not hurt anyone and will be kind to one and all

Gratitude is one of the most important characteristics in a person and writing down the things we are grateful for creates a happier and less anxious lifestyle. It keeps us motivated and has a positive effect on our heart rate. This makes us more content with life and helps cope with any internal struggle.

Part of becoming a positive person is to love and appreciate yourself. The more you exercise self-appreciation, the more mentally strong you become.

Head to a yoga retreat

Yoga gives you the purpose to live your life with wellness and peace. It helps you remove yourself from the nitty-gritty aspects of the world and focus on the present. In the tumultuous lifestyle that we follow today, it provides you with an opportunity to rejuvenate without any internal distractions and promotes spiritual growth.

Attend a yoga class at least 3 times a week. Develop it into a morning ritual. This will bolster a healthier way of life and strengthen mental resolve.

Yoga teaches us breathing techniques which is our vital life force. Concentrating on our breathing relaxes our body and induces positive elements that eliminate anxiety.

Past traumas and pain takes root in our subconscious mind and manifests itself into negative emotions. Negative thoughts cause lasting impressions limiting beliefs. Yoga is a way to revive oneself and live an uplifting life.

Surround yourself with positive people

There are many factors that influence our life, the most important factor being the people around us. People who exude negative energy tend to suck the energy and happiness around them. They do not contribute towards enriching our lives. Having said that, this does not mean we need to be unkind towards them and ignore them.

The people who could make a difference in encouraging a positive thought process need to be:

  1. those who motivate us to challenge ourselves
  2. who are happy for us on our achievements
  3. who are productive themselves and inspire us to achieve higher goals
  4. who emotionally support us in times of need
  5. the ones who makes us laugh

We become like those we spend our time with.Negative people can influence our capability to handle stress and increase tension in our lives.

It is refreshing to spend time around people who radiate happiness. Laughter is contagious and is a great coping strategy through hard times. Try to incorporate these positive elements you learn from the people who influence you positively.

Visualize favourable outcomes

There is nothing comparable to believing in yourself. It reminds us to have a confident outlook and creates a positive reality for us.

Science has proven that our thoughts can change the way our brain functions. Reminding ourselves repeatedly about positive outcomes forces our brain to be immersed in positive thoughts.


  1. I intend to succeed
  2. My career will shape just the way I want it to
  3. I will always find a way around obstacles
  4. Many people admire me due to my diligence, charm and hard work
  5. I will be successful in all my endeavours

The power of a positive emotion can shape our life the way we want. These focus on a desirable outcome and are often repeated till it becomes part of our subconscious mind. This is called a positive affirmation. Our mind then aims to make this desire a reality.

The same goes for negative thoughts. The more we focus on negative outcomes, our mind strives to make the thought a reality. Hence, positive affirmations are a powerful tool to empower ourselves to overcome negative emotions and build an enriching life.

Recognize the negative emotions

The first step to incorporate change in our emotions is to become aware of our inner thoughts. Our mind has a way of ruminating on past mistakes and regrets. They cast our mind into the future and conjure up images based on our emotions.

Observe what your thoughts are at regular intervals. Recognize what you feel when there are certain thoughts running through your head at the time. Identify the negative thoughts through the emotions you feel at the time.

It is a tedious task not to act on our emotions, especially the negative ones. Once we identify the negative emotions, we need to let it run its course and just be a silent spectator. Our body language tells us a lot about the emotions running through our mind as well. For example, we tap our fingers when we are impatient. Some of us bite our nails when we are worried.

To change, we need to believe there is a need.Identifying thinking patterns command practice and persistence. Being a silent observer to our thoughts helps us train our mind not to dwell on the negative. Change takes time and patience as emotions do not change overnight.

Construct positivity from negative emotions

There is always a lesson behind negative experiences. We can learn from these life lessons and use it for our future self.

Once we design our mind to create awareness of our negative thoughts, make it a habit of redirecting them to think more constructively. Do not make conclusions from the negative emotions as they do not always represent the truth.

Emotions are connected to our memory and past experience. They build up conclusions that might have nothing to do with reality. For example, we might feel that we failed at a relationship because there might be something wrong with us. This is our mind building up an outcome based on a past hurt.

Once we are aware of our emotions, we can force ourselves to give undivided attention to the present. This helps us release these emotions and lets us see the situation in the right perspective.

A glass half full

Negative emotions are so complex that they gain momentum over time if they are left unchecked. The longer they fester, further damage it causes to our well-being. Our body reacts to these emotions conjured up and we end up developing wrong conclusions.

The coping strategies mentioned above can help us empower our lives and focus on the brighter side of life. We can make a conscious effort to guide our thoughts in a positive direction and anticipate happiness for an enriching existence and break free of negativity.


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    • Vidya Kurup profile imageAUTHOR

      Vidya Kurup 

      18 months ago from Bangalore

      Thank you Nicola. I am glad you liked it.

    • profile image


      18 months ago

      Thank you for the article, your positive words help so much. You write so lovely. Thanks for the inspiration


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