How to deal with negative emotions
Do you let yours or other people's negative emotions run your life, control you or do you run from them, resist them, allow them to affect your relationships, stop you doing things you want in life? How do you embrace and deal with negative emotions?
When I was younger I was always fighting my emotions, embarrassed about how I felt, embarrassed about showing my authenticity and vulnerability, believing it was weak, like they were something to be ashamed of. I found it hard to express my negativity, my anger, my sadness. For me anger was seen to be an emotion that a nice girl never showed. I took risks because I ignored my fear instead of learning to understand it and allow it to give me messages about how to slow down and make better decisions. All emotions are about balance between positive and negative to acknowledge what's going on.
Why do we need emotions?
Emotions are a fundamental part of who we are, our make-up, they exist to help us process the information we take in every day, and give us direction
They are essential for understanding and comprehending a situation, and how we choose to manage it - whether that be dealing with danger, or motivating us into action. show us our likes and dislikes and become self aware.
We also need emotions for guidance in everyday things, like better communication to maintain healthy relationships, and becoming self aware.
They are like a compass, to help us feel and listen to what we need as imperfect living beings.g slow down when we feel stress.. That includes all the emotions; the nice ones and the negative ones. If we ignore them then how do we understand what we need.
Are you running to or from your emotions?
Wanting to be perfect by covering up what we feel
For me being imperfectly perfect or emotionally balanced is allowing myself to "be" in all my feeling states, negative and positive and being ok with them. Not having to hide that from anyone, especially myself. But it took me a long time to understand that, and previously my ideal image of wanting to be perfect was you didn't show your emotions. I gave an impression to the world that "all was ok", I covered up what I was really feeling inside, suffering because I wasn’t expressing all the pain, hurt anger and joy. I couldn't get the support or help I craved because I wasn't showing the pain and sharing with others to find solutions. You can;t find joy until you have acknowledged all the rest.
Empathy is about acknowledging and owning your own feelings to be able to acknowledge others.
I believed that people wanted only to know me when things were good, when all looked hunky dory. Working as a tour guide at the young age of 19 taught me that, how to have outer confidence, but not show my vulnerabilities. I was supposed to help people enjoy themselves, be the leader, I couldn’t show them I was tired, sad, unhappy. I had to be ok to deal with their complaints and suck up my own.
So I took that into the rest of my life including my relationships, On top of that, as a highly sensitive person, I feel things deeply and felt wrong for it, believing people couldn't cope with that. By believing that I met people who couldn’t so I shut down.
If you are not able to acknowledge your own feelings and emotions, it is very difficult to acknowledge and validate those of others and understand them. Thats one of the qualities of leadership. When you are okay with your own emotions, so will others be.
Emotional Intelligence is not taught at school
Perhaps, like me as a child, you were not taught how to understand your emotions and what they meant, or given tools to deal with them. Its easy to express the happy, feel-good ones, and often scary to expose the negative ones. I was often told to forget them: “Don’t be sad, don’t be angry, don’t be scared, just get over it, go do something else and forget about it”. Unfortunately it didn’t always work, and I couldn’t.
This reaction is common, as it’s difficult to acknowledge suffering in others when many times it triggers our own, and we feel it’s better to teach others to forget things, suppress them. Unfortunately this method often didn’t work, and I couldn’t move on.
Being highly sensitive (empath), I would sit with these negative feelings and analyse them. Because no one wanted to discuss them, I would complain to myself and others that nobody was listening, or just push them deep down and say “oh well”.
What are the effects of this? Suppressed emotions can lead to exhaustion, overwhelm and trauma. Complaining also keeps you in the problem and not the solution, affects your energy, your psyche, and your relationships.
Have you ever done that, tell people to “get over it”? We feel uncomfortable seeing other people down, negative, angry, which triggers our own painful emotions, and often we don’t know what to do. Instead of validating how they feel, we tell them to stop, or we try to make them feel good again with happy distractions.
The issue with this, is it only works for the short term and not the long term. It does not validate the person, how they feel, who they are. It doesn’t allow them to be and feel all of these completely normal, imperfect, human, things.
The answer is to embrace our feelings, no matter what they are. Avoidance and complaining does not solve the problem, teaching to forget about the issue is just continuing this unhelpful cycle.
We need to stop telling ourselves to be positive, and begin to acknowledge and understand the negative feelings we all feel as human beings. Instead of finding people around us who will join us in the complaining and help us stay stuck in the negativity, you need to look face to face in the direction of your emotions.
Complaining leads to dissatisfaction and if we do nothing about it, finally one day we wake up and realise we have become a grumpy old man or woman that we never wanted to be!
What happens when we avoid or suppress our negative emotions?
Our negative emotions have a definite effect on how we work, how we feel and our relationships. When there is a negative emotion it usually means there is something that is out of sync. If you don't listen to it, it festers and comes up later at an inappropriate time.
Have you ever noticed that when you get up on the wrong side of the bed, stub your toe, or bump into the toilet, your day tends to start badly? You get caught up in a traffic jam on the way to work or you forget an appointment and things seem to spiral down and get worse and worse.
You come home from work complaining, bring the bad mood into the home, shout at the kids, the wife, the hubbie and then they get pissed off.
Now Imagine another scenario, where you wake up not feeling great, take a moment to breathe and acknowledge why you feel that way, and then get up, just missing the side of the bed with your toe, look out the window, see the sunshine, and smile. The day just seems to get better and better. You receive a compliment, get an unexpected cheque in the post (well maybe that’s going too far), or you get a call from a new client, and things seem to flow with ease. Where we focus and the state of our emotions, has a definite effect on how we work, how we feel and our relationships.
In the first scenario, In the first scenario, a few little things were able to influence your entire day for the worse - all because you didn’t acknowledge how you felt,and move on in a better state of mind. In the second scenario, feeling positive carried on through the rest of your day, and you ended up in a healthy state of mind by the end of it.
Negative emotions can be very revealing if you are willing to listen to them, including fear; telling you what you need, at any given time, to turn things around. Telling you to slow down so you can hear over the noise and understand, before life gets worse. When we don’t face them, validate them, we can often turn to other things to help us deal with them like; food, games, a sport, maybe gambling, or maybe getting lost in something or someone else’s life. We turn to distractions to cover up our discontentment, pain, and negative feelings. It works as a way to cope and hide our dissatisfaction away.
Consistently distracting ourselves from our problems can lead to even more negativity, and can have serious repercussions in our lives. Depending on what we turn to, we can get addicted to that, as an excuse to help us feel better.
Addictions are often related to not being able to face ourselves and our internal suffering. Addictions are not only to substances like drugs, it is anything that helps us cope - we can even get addicted to a specific emotion, like worry, or complaining - whatever helps.
(Please see this video from Gabor Mate if you want to learn more about emotions and addictions.)I became addicted to personal development videos and worrying, as a way to hide facing my shadows, my pain, my negative emotions. I made the excuse that it was for my work as a Lifecoach, taking things in, but not using it to face my issues.
Just being positive does not always work to help you to feel better?
Do you hear yourself saying just be positive and everything will be alright, or say that to others. The self help industry may portray that, tell you to do an affirmation, be positive. That will not always work and can even make you worse.
Why? Because emotions create memories and when they just get put aside, pushed down, and we don’t deal with them or acknowledge them, then one day they finally explode. Either as an illness in the body or towards someone or something, perhaps in anger or jealousy or grief, even blaming and shaming others for how we feel. We are not acknowledging the pain or hurt within. It affects our relationships, work, home, kids because we then feel unrecognised by those around us, perhaps expecting them to consider how we feel or recognise it when they don’t or can’t no clue what’s going on for us inside.
Emotions are a way of giving us some direction about how to change our life. When negative, they are a sign that there is something out of sync. Listening to those negative emotions is about understanding what is out of sync. When those emotions are positive, it means we’re feeling good, things are flowing. Sounds simple doesn’t it?
But how often do you listen to your emotions, stop complaining and acknowledge how you feel? How often do you, instead of telling yourself to suck it up, just be positive, or find someone to join you in your story to consistently complain, simply slow down to listen to what your emotions are telling you?
Positivity and affirmations only work when you have acknowledged the pain, the dissatisfaction, the negativity within, becoming aware of your excuses and why you are complaining. In order to work, affirmations have to be repeated, repeated, and repeated, to form a new pattern in the brain, and this takes up to 66 days. That’s a long time. The quicker option, not always the easiest, is to sit down and face your emotions, say hi to them, understand the message that they are giving you and release it to find a solution to manage it, accept it, validate it and open up to a new move towards a new positive healthy way of being..
The good that comes from listening, is you can help yourself by teaching yourself to understand your emotions, and understand the functioning of others, learning empathy and compassion. In business and in leadership roles, these are highly esteemed qualities to bring the best out of you, and your staff, and gain results. The bad that comes from not listening, is you stop being true to you, stop expressing yourself and that leads to exhaustion, stress, you may criticise yourself or others, and can become judgemental.
Again this leads to the emotions coming out through pain in the body instead, and disconnecting in your relationships at work, at home. For me it came out in stress through the body, in the form of sciatica and lower back pain, among other things, and through continuous bad relationships.
(see below for further reading on this) You see, we take those emotions from our childhood that never got dealt with, or acknowledged, and bring them into our adult life where they often control our thoughts and mindset, and affect our relationships with others.
What's the first step to tuning in to hear my emotions:
The first step therefore to dealing with your negative emotions or all emotions, is to learn how to become more present, present to hear yourself.
It is in slowing down that we become present and this can start with 3 minutes.
Check out my video for how to begin to breath to help.If you need any more ideas or help give me a call to chat and do 3 minutes a day to feel better.
Other various ways this can be done to hear your emotions mindfulness, meditation.
I teach mindfulness and 3 minute tools that clear the mind, the persistent negative thoughts and feelings, that helps to release stress or overwhelm and learning how to listen to yourself to know the difference between your emotions and others and what you need to turn things around.. (especially helpful for empaths or highly sensitive children)
Please contact me to find out more on +61 497 062902, firstname.lastname@example.org
For further reading and videos:
Learning how emotions effect our bodies "The meaning of pain", Nick potter"
Just let go I hear her say. Let it all go and release it!!! Have you ever wondered what that actually means? and how to really do it? What you are even letting go of. Easy said not so easy done.