Negative emotions are apart of everyday life, but how are we suppose to deal with these negative emotions? How are we suppose to minimize negative effects of having these emotions? How do we cope? Do we hide them? Do we express them? When we express them can we talk to just anyone? Who can we trust with our inner most negative feelings? These are all questions we need to answer in an effort to truly learn to manage our negative emotions. As we learn to manage them we can learn to not let negativity take us over, thus strengthening our positive inner voice.
What are examples of Negative Emotions?
- Jealousy and Envy
- Sadness or Grief
- Impatience and Hate
Harmful Ways to Cope with Your Negative Emotions
When we try to deny our emotions they tend to fester. When we deny we are refusing to feel the emotions we are experiencing. As we push down these emotions we can reach a limit where we cause harm to ourselves or others.
When many self harm to cope with negative emotions they are doing so to try to gain some control. Cutting, purging, starving oneself are all ways to control ourselves. Often times many try to take some control in a world where everything else seems out of control. Self harm can give temporary relief by focusing our attention to something different then our negative emotions, it can also become addictive. When self harm becomes addictive often times it’ll take more and more to feel the same amount of control. This can lead to serious injury or other extreme behaviors.
Withdrawal is when negative emotions makes a person want to hide away from social situations. They may avoid invitations to parties, movies, date nights, etc. Many withdrawal because interacting with others can be very taxing on their emotional state, very depleting. Many people that feel this way are very introverted. Withdrawing can add to our negative emotions, making us feel lonely, angry, and misunderstood.
Often times when someone is being a bully it is because they have a very low self esteem themselves. When we are unable to cope with our own emotions many find ways to make themselves feel better. For bullies this is often putting others down to feel better about themselves. Bullying does not address underlying issues. Often times harmful to both the bully and the one being bullied.
Substance abuse is a mechanism many use to feel numb to any negative feelings. Often times it can be abusing alcohol or other drugs (recreational or pharmaceutical). Substance abuse almost always leads to addiction. As our body gets used to a drug it can take more and more to get the same numbing effect.
Positive Ways to Cope With Your Negative Emotions
Recognize and Name Our Emotions
Before we can make any positive steps to deal with negative emotions we have to be able to name the emotion we are feeling. This can take some time and serious self reflection. I personally will have strong emotions, sad, anger, frustration, but when first experiencing them it can take time to understand what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it. Often times it may have been triggered by something trivial yet something earlier is the true issue. Take time to reflect on what you’re feeling and why.
Understand Your Emotions
Emotions are a way for us to process people, activities, or situations in our lives. Because of our own binary way of thinking and negativity bias we often put our emotions on a spectrum of positive to negative. However, all emotions are necessary to feel because all emotions are helping us process what we are going through. This means negative emotions are not bad, they are not truly negative. We should feel them. We should understand them. We should work through them. Doing so helps us understand what we are going through. Understanding our emotions means understanding why we are feeling a certain way and processing how we need to feel so. This means sometimes simply giving ourselves time to feel them rather then bottling them up.
Understand How Our Emotions Affecting Our Behavior
There are many ways our emotions affect our behavior both in positive and negative ways. Emotions influence our thoughts. Many situations can trigger an emotional reaction this emotional reaction can be a positive reaction. For instance, the emotional reaction may be one to flee. Our emotions trigger fight or flight activities this could mean protecting ourselves. However, often times we may see an inflated emotional reaction to a situation that makes us want to flee but doing so can be detrimental to our own health. This may be an anxiety related emotion thus making us want to withdraw and isolate ourselves.
Our emotions can trigger physical behavior such as sweating, shaking, crying, even extreme fear can cause fainting, heart palpitations, and incontinence. Our emotions can also respond to our physical behavior. For instance if we smile, even when we do not initially feel happy, it can help boost our moods and bring about happiness. This is also true when someone smiles to us, it gives us a positive emotional response.
Change What You Can
When we are having an emotional reaction to a situation it is important to understand what about the situation we can actually change. If we an change it we should take steps to do so. Hopefully changing what we can about the situation will help the negative feelings go away as the situation changes. This can be something as simple as quitting a job that makes us miserable, leaving an abusive relationship or friendship, or simply talking to someone who hurt us.
We also need to understand many situations we have no control over. When this happens we need to change our emotional reaction. If we have no control over the situation having a negative emotion linger only harms us further. This could be the fact that a friend is moving away and we feel abandoned. Perhaps a family member made a decision you disapprove of and you’re angry. Holding onto these emotions when you cannot change the situation only brings negativity into our thoughts. Often times we repress the emotion to just blow up later. We need to change our emotional reaction and move on.
It can be important when managing our emotions to talk to the person who may be bringing them about. Often times we avoid this because we do not want confrontation. When both parties are open, kind, open-minded, and constructive it can bring about resolution.
Find an Outlet
Everyone needs some sort of outlet. Something they are happy doing. This can be a craft, writing, exercise, sports, art or many other things. Having an outlet can help us relax and enjoy ourselves.
Practice Self Care
It can be hard to take the time to practice self care when often times it makes us feel like we are being selfish. Especially for women. We are taught to take care of others. We are wives, mothers, employees, friends, daughters, granddaughters, first and foremost. When we do not practice self care however and are always taking care of others we can become disillusioned. We can start to feel frustration, anger, sadness, we feel used. Take time for yourself and remember that doing so is not selfish.
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