Negative emotions keep us awake at night, makes us feel bad, and increases anxiety and depression.
How do you overcome negative emotions?
First, it is important to acknowledge that negative emotions are part of life.
Without negative emotions, there would be no learning experiences. There would be no positive emotions either. Negative emotions and setbacks are there to tell and remind us about all of life’s little imperfections. I find suppressing or avoiding negative emotions will always haunt me later. It will always be the ghost in our mind closet, perhaps stressing us little by little.
So, I acknowledge negative emotions for what they are. Anger, grief, jealousy, frustration, pride, avarice, hate, cowardice, etc.
Later, I find writing helps me bring emotional closure. This is to prevent bringing this baggage with me throughout the week, or even worse, later in life.
Writing works best for me. I know talking to a close friend is another great option. Others will confess to a priest, which works well. There are also professional therapists who can help.
The process is as follows :
- I write what happened, such as who was involved, what I was doing and any other details.
- I identify my negative emotion. I express fully my emotions in writing, making it as lively as possible. If it is anger, I might use swear words. If it is hate, I explain with my choice of words why the aversion. If it is grief, I write the pain to the deceased. I let everything out and take responsibility for it.
- I shift perspectives and write how and why others reacted to the situation.
- I think about at least two different ideas to help close the negative emotion. Can I confront the person? Can I apologize? Can I forgive the person who hurt me? Or what about practicing gratitude?
- At this point, I pause and step back. I close my eyes, and take 12 deep breaths.I ask my guts what is the best possible outcome. This might take time. It’s about engaging the left brain (logic) but especially the right brain (creativity), the brain stem, the heart, the gut, and the neural pathways. Too often, people try to solve negative emotions with linear logic. This process of meditation involves the feelings, the sensations, body intuition. For me, an image or word or a scenario pops up.
- Knowing the best outcome for me, I write an action plan and action items. It can be a ritual (such as burning pictures) followed by action. I make sure the associated goal is attainable and I have the time and efforts to follow through, otherwise it is pointless.
- Release the negative emotion and follow the action plan.
It does not necessarily work every time. Sometimes, it’s too early in the process, and in this case, running hard or boxing on a punching bag makes more sense. Sometimes, it is a painful process. However I find the process invigorating and lets me make peace with myself and others. And I feel much better!
Let me know what you think. How do you overcome negative emotions? Do you have a favorite place, food, or maybe a friend you go back to?