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How To Handle Negative Emotions

How To Handle Negative Emotions

Emotions can make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster sometimes. In the course of one day you can experience a range of emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, excitement, nervousness, confusion, anxiety – you name it, you can feel it. The negative emotions are undoubtedly the hardest to deal with, but they are just as much a part of life as the positive ones. So, we must learn to take the bad with the good, and cope with it all so we can be our happiest selves.

If you’re experiencing a negative emotion right now, here are 8 steps you can take to handle it:

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1. Recognize and name the emotion.

The first step to handling an emotion is recognizing it. Everybody has their own unique ability to express their emotions, but this step is not about expressing it to anyone, it is just about recognition. Name the emotion in your own head. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m really happy right now. Be a dispassionate observer, looking at yourself from outside the situation and making an assessment.

2. Notice how the emotion is affecting your behavior.

Stop to notice how the emotion is affecting your behavior. For example, if you’re angry, you might be talking loudly, quickly, or using profanities. You may stand with your arms or legs crossed. If you’re feeling sad, you may be listening to sad music, crying, or lying in bed. It’s the same with positive emotions. If you’re feeling excited, you may be singing or dancing, talking loudly, or smiling. Recognizing how your emotion is affecting your behavior is super important.

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3. Tell yourself the emotion won’t last forever.

Emotions don’t typically stick around. (Of course, if you are experiencing an extended period of sadness, you may want to talk to a professional.) That’s why it can feel like we are on emotional roller coasters sometimes. We’re good, we’re bad, we’re good again, we’re bad again. If you’re feeling something negative, make sure to keep in mind that it won’t last forever, just like physical pain. Eventually, a broken bone will heal, and the same goes for emotions. Maybe you’re feeling unsettled today. Tomorrow, you’ll likely feel different. Unfortunately, this step is also true for positive emotions. You don’t need to remind yourself of that every day, but it’s probably helpful to keep in the back of your mind.

4. Figure out what is causing the emotion.

Once you’ve recognized and named the emotion, noticed how it’s affecting your behavior, and told yourself it won’t last forever, the next step is to determine where the emotion came from. Don’t blame yourself or anyone for the emotion; just try to identify its root. Maybe you got a nasty email from your ex-boyfriend. Maybe your supervisor said something snarky about your work. Maybe it’s something more subtle, like spilling coffee on your new coat. Or maybe it’s something huge, like the death of a friend or family member. Whatever it is, try to identify it. If it is more than one thing, that’s okay. Find all the potential causes of the emotion.

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5. Accept the emotion.

What’s this step? Acceptance. This emotion is what you feel right now. It just is – like it, love it, or hate it. This is what you’ve got. You can’t change it. You have to live with it, so you may as well accept it. It doesn’t define you and it’s going away soon anyway, but, for the moment, just accept it for what it is. Tell yourself that you are feeling whatever you are supposed to be feeling. Even if it’s not the best feeling. That will definitely help.

6. Remind yourself that the emotion will pass.

After accepting the emotion, remind yourself one more time that it will pass. Don’t ever forget this step! In fact, slip this step in between the other steps as many times as you need. This is key. If you’re feeling unhappy right this second, it does not mean you are going to feel unhappy for the rest of your life!

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7. Snap back into the present moment.

Now that you’ve recognized and named the emotion, noticed how it’s affecting your behavior, told yourself it won’t last forever, figured out what is causing the emotion, accepted it, and reminded yourself one more time that it will pass, it’s time to get back to whatever you were doing. If you need a quick break first, take it – go for a walk; do some pushups or jumping jacks; call a friend or a family member if you have the time. Do whatever you need to do to bring yourself back to the present moment. Your emotion is just a feeling. It does not define who you are. Bring yourself back to your present moment, to your here and now.

8. Learn from the emotion.

If the emotion you experienced was negative, there might be a reason for it. It could be a red flag for something that is causing uneasiness within you. Of course, the opposite is also true. It might just have been a completely normal and healthy negative emotion. Take the steps you need to take to handle the emotion and move on, but don’t just ignore it. File it away in your brain so that you can retrieve any useful information about it for your future self.

There! Now you can handle any negative emotion that comes at you – sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety. You are a superhero. You can do anything. You have power. You have control of your life. You make decisions for yourself. You determine what you need. You are your best friend.

Featured photo credit: Mag Nimous via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

Relationships are complicated and when you’re unhappy, it can be difficult to tell what’s causing it and what needs to change.

Sometimes it’s as easy as opening up to your partner about your problems, while other times it may be necessary to switch partners or roll solo to get your mind straight.

When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to tell if you’re unhappy in your relationship or just unhappy in general (in which case, a relationship may be just the cure you need).

Here’re signs of an unhappy relationship that is possibly making you feel stuck:

1. You’re depressed about your home life.

No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have good and bad days. Your relationship is no different.

However, no matter what you’re going through at home, you have to feel comfortable in your own home.

If you constantly dread going home because your significant other is there, there’s a problem. Maybe it’s something you already know about, everyone has an argument or just needs some alone time.

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When that yearning to be alone becomes an insatiable obsession over the course of months and years, it’s time to realize you’re not the exception to the rule.

You’re unhappy in your relationship, and you need to take a look in the mirror and do whatever it takes to make yourself smile.

2. You aren’t comfortable being yourself.

Remember all those things you discovered about yourself when you first got together? The way your partner made you feel when you met that made you fall in love with him or her in the first place.

If they don’t make you feel that way anymore, it’s not the end of the world. If your partner makes you uncomfortable about being you, then her or she is only dragging you down. It’s up to you to decide how to handle that.

You need to be comfortable with who you are. This means being comfortable in your skin and with the way you walk, talk, look, breath, move, and all the other things that make you uniquely you.

If the person who supposedly loves you doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, know that you can do better. They’re not even one in a billion.

3. You can’t stop snooping.

Mutual trust is necessary in any relationship. The only way to get that trust is with respect.

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I can find you anywhere online, no matter how private and secure you think you are. The odds of you having a password I can’t crack are slim. If we’ve met in person, I could install a remote key logger on your device without even touching it.

Finding your information online hardly takes a clandestine organization. Any idiot with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can cyberstalk you. I’m just the only idiot in the village admitting it.

So now that we know everyone snoops, it’s time to address your personal habits. Governments snoop because they don’t trust us. If you’re snooping on your partner, it’s because you don’t trust them.

It’s ok to have doubts, and it’s perfectly normal to look into anything that looks weird, but keep in mind that data collection is only half of an investigation.

If you find yourself constantly snooping and questioning everything, clearly there’s a trust issue and the relationship likely needs to end.

4. You’re afraid of commitment.

If you’ve been dating longer than a year and you aren’t engaged, it’s never going to happen.

Commitment is important. People will come up with a million ways to describe why they can’t be committed.

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No matter who you are if you like it, you need to put a ring on it. Find an engagement ring, stick a gemstone in it and marry the person. If you’re not legally able to get married or you don’t believe in it for one reason or another, have a child (or adopt one, however you’re able to) or treat your partner’s family like your own. It’s a huge financial and mental commitment.

If you’re not ready for one or the other after some time, don’t waste anymore of your precious life on the relationship.

Your relationship should be something that propels you forward. If it’s not going anywhere, make it an open relationship and call it what it is—dating multiple people.

5. You imagine a happier life without your partner.

If all you’re doing is imagining a happier life without your partner, it’s a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship. You’re unhappy and you need to get out.

Your partner should be included in your dreams. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a future with someone.

Try to remember what you dreamed of before you got your heart broken by the realities of life, love and the pursuit of human success.

Remember when you would crush on that cute kid in class? You would secretly imagine marrying him or her and going on an adventure—that’s the way life should be.

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If you’re not at least imagining adventures together, then why are you in that relationship?

6. You resent, rather than love your partner.

When a relationship starts to crumble, you begin to resent your partner for all the things you once loved about him or her.

When you’ve reached this point, your partner has reached at least No. 2 on this list. From your partner’s perspective, your unhappiness with them is picked up as bashing them for being who they are.

If you’re both unhappy in the relationship, it’s better if it ends as quickly and painlessly as possible.

7. You chase past feelings.

It’s okay to reminisce about the past, but if all you do is wish things were like they used to be, it’s a sign you’re not on the right path.

You’re unhappy and, at the very least, you need to have an open dialogue about it. This isn’t necessarily a sign that the relationship should end, but it definitely needs a spark.

When you talk to your partner candidly about what it is you’re looking for, you never know how they’ll react. The risk alone is worth it, good or bad.

Final thoughts

If you’re feeling stuck in your current relationship, it’s time to reflect about it with your partner. Don’t ignore these signs of an unhappy relationship as they will slowly go worse and harm both you and your partner in long-term.

Featured photo credit: josh peterson via unsplash.com

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