3 Steps to Manage Your Negative Emotions Effectively
No one likes to feel bad or have negative emotions. Life would be great if everything went your way, you were able to feel happiness everyday and never experience anxiety, guilt, or pain. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it goes.
It’s very unlikely that a week, or even a day will go by where I don’t feel some type of negative emotion. This may be as simple as feeling a little guilty for starting work slightly late or skipping the gym, or harsher emotions such as anger and hurt, following an argument with my friend or partner (this happens very infrequently, thank goodness). However, all negative emotions can be difficult to deal with.
In particular, I often struggle to find the positive in a situation and will sit and worry over what happened, who said what and who is in the wrong. This is unhelpful in two ways: firstly, thinking this way does not move the situation forward or resolve it and secondly, I am focusing on other people and the circumstances themselves rather than how I feel, why I feel that way and how to achieve a good result overall.
It has taken a little time, but I’ve trained myself to make sure I’m actively thinking about my emotions, coming to terms with them and subsequently being able to act on them ensures that any negative situations are resolved much more quickly. If for some reason it cannot be resolved, I am able to find closure with my own feelings and move on.
Here’s how I deal with negative emotions and how you can do it too.
#1. Be Aware Of How You Feel
Sometimes, a negative emotion can be hard to distinguish. For example, you may think you’re only really angry with a driver for splashing you with a puddle on the road whilst running late for work. However, if you dig a little deeper and think about it, you may find you’re also feeling disappointment in yourself for not allowing enough time and some guilt over letting your employer down. Another example, you could be feeling really upset that your boyfriend wants to go out with his friends instead of hanging out with you. Think again though – are you really hurt, or is it jealousy you’re feeling? Being able to identify and put a name to the emotion can make things a lot easier.
#2. Accept Your Emotions
Don’t judge yourself for the emotions you feel. It’s normal to feel them. Acknowledging how you feel can help you move on, so don’t be hard on yourself. Once you’ve processed what you’re feeling, you can decide if you need to express your emotion. Sometimes it’s enough to just realise and understand why you feel the way you do, but there are some things you can do to support yourself.
#3. Take Action
Depending on the situation, you may wish to confront someone to resolve a bad situation. Otherwise though, it’s helpful to try to change your mood and emotions into a positive. Surrounding yourself with friends or taking a walk can lift you out of the negative headspace. Additionally, even if you’re still feeling bad, try to build on your positive emotions. For example you gave someone helpful directions today and they were very grateful, or you were able to complete a piece of work to a great standard. This can help you shift the emotional balance from negative to positive.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t shake a negative feeling or bad emotion. If you find yourself stuck in feelings of sadness or worry for a longer period of time than you can cope with, you may need extra help.