It may be hard to believe, but emotions can become habits that have been formed through repetition. As such, negative emotions can become something that infiltrates your everyday life. Do you find that you’re constantly down on the world and yourself? Do you get annoyed easily and become bitter with people? Is anger your natural response to something? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may be a slave to negative emotions. You need to learn to stop before you actually transform into Walter Matthau.
1. Stop Justifying
First and foremostly, you need to stop justifying getting angry and upset over everything. Stop thinking that you’re entitled to be so negative, because you’re not. The only person responsible for this is you. Do you really want to become that cranky old man or woman that tells everyone they ever meet why everything is awful and why everyone sucks? You know who I’m talking about, you’ve seen them in the grocery line. If you stop justifying your negativity to yourself you won’t have a reason to be angry, and much more people will actually enjoy being around you. Get over the spilt milk.
2. Stop Making Excuses
You need to stop making excuses for both yourself and others. Perhaps you rationalize your own actions and why it’s okay for you to verbalize your anger. Or maybe you create explanations as to why other people deserve your anger. Either way, you’re trying to invent a socially acceptable explanation for your behavior. The only problem is that it probably isn’t acceptable and all it’s doing is keeping your negative emotions alive and making you miserable in the meantime. Eventually there will be no one left to care but yourself. Stop making yourself a victim. Really think about whether or not these other people have actually done anything wrong.
3. Start Taking Responsibility
Now that you’ve stopped making excuses, it’s time to take some responsibility for yourself and your actions. As soon as you do this, you will start depriving your negative emotions of the power they hold over you. What right do they have to your life anyway? Own your problems and your actions and stop blaming other people. It’s called being a happy, functional adult.
4. Rise Above Other People’s Opinions
So I’ve done a lot of ranting about how you need to control your emotions and take responsibility. The truth is that this can be difficult when other people can actually be jerks, or if you care too much about what others think of you. You need to stop giving them so much power. Don’t let anyone but yourself define your self image and self worth. This is important, but if you define yourself through others, you are far more likely to be miserable. This is because as soon as you hear anything negative, you’re likely to react with anger and embarrassment. You’ll feel ashamed and inferior and may even begin indulging in self-pity that could lead to depression. The joke will be on you though, because in most cases, the people who made you feel this way won’t even realize it. They’re busy with their own lives. All of the negativity and hurt actually comes from you. You need to stop giving a crap about what other people think immediately. You’ll be much happier for it.
5. Quit Your Negative Habits and Avoid Bad Influences
Some habits and people purely and simply bring you down. It may difficult to do, but you need to remove these things from your life. Don’t hang around people who are negative all of the time. Instead, surround yourself with happy and positive people who take joy in life. You’d be surprised how easily their attitudes can rub off on you. Furthermore, don’t engage in behavior that may make you angry and depressed. If that beer or joint is going to have a negative effect, put it the hell down.
6. Think Before You Respond
Calm yourself down, Hulk.
Let’s say you’re in a situation where your natural reaction is to yell or send a passive aggressive Facebook message. Stop. Just, stop. Now think. Is this something you really want to do? Is it actually that bad? Is it even worth being angry or upset over? Did the person you’re about to react to actually do anything wrong, or is it in your head? What are some of the possible consequences of these actions? Will it destroy a friendship? Will you be stewing over it for weeks?
These are just some of the questions that you need to start asking yourself before you react negatively to something. You may just find that you’re grateful that you thought about it before acting. Or maybe, because I have trouble being concise, by the time you get to the end of my questions, you’ll forget what even happened in the first place.
7. Be Grateful
Instead of constantly obsessing over how crap your life is, start being grateful. What are the things or people you have in your life that you can be thankful for? Start defining your life by the good, as opposed to the bad. Get into this habit by thinking of at least one thing everyday that you’re grateful for.
8. Remove “I Can’t” From Your Vocabulary
This is a simple one. Saying “I can’t” to things, including letting go of negative emotions, will make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can’t because you say you can’t. Stop placing limitations on yourself and give yourself some credit. You can if you say you can. Unless it’s something like diving out of a plane without a parachute and thinking you’ll survive. You probably can’t do that.
9. Just Let Go
Most importantly, you need to try and let go of your negative emotions. Holding onto them and subsequently applying them to every little thing that goes wrong isn’t healthy. In fact, it’s dangerous. A great deal of negative people don’t know how to feel much else and aren’t satisfied unless they have something to whine about. Ironically, they’re not happy unless they’re unhappy and actually go looking for conflict. Do you really want to be that person? If nothing else, it sounds exhausting. Let it go, people. Just let it go.
Managing your emotions is very much a question of choice. Do you want to, or not? How To Control Your Emotions EffectivelyFeatured photo credit: Businessman torn between being positive or negativevia Shutterstock