“Emotions are meant to be in motion. Do not hold on to them; let them move through you. Emotions pass. Decisions last.”
Negative emotions like sadness, anger, and frustration are like rain clouds. They come and they pass. Some stick around longer than others, but eventually the sun pokes through again. Now don’t get me wrong, your emotions are valid and justifiable. You may feel disappointed and angry if your friend cancels plans on you last minute or you may feel frustrated if your spouse forgets to take out the trash on garbage day again even after you reminded him! From my perspective, your feelings of dissapointment, anger and frustration are justifiable. However, how you choose to react to these emotions in the moment will determine what comes next for you and whether or not your negative emotions will remain, intensify, or pass.
Your Natural Reaction
When you are having a negative emotion, your brain will try to steer you in a direction that may make matters worse. You may react with aggression or you may communicate with an accusatory tone in the case of a conflict. However, aggressive reactions or accusations will only lead to more negative emotions which will not only prolong them, but can even cause damage in relationships. Mean, hurtful comments may cause lasting memories and can negatively impact the dynamic of your relationship. Don’t forget, your emotions will eventually pass, but your actions in response to them will remain.
Since your natural reaction to negative emotions can be damaging, it is important that you practice self-control. This means going against what your brain is telling you. Identify what you are feeling and acknowledge and validate what is going on from your perspective. However, if your negative emotions are too strong to respond in a helpful and productive way at that moment, walk way and give them time to pass. For example, If you feel angry due to a disagreement that occurred with you and your partner, rather than responding with aggression in the moment, take some time to redirect yourself and allow your anger to pass. After your anger passes, if you still feel the need to address what happened, you will more likely find appropriate and rational words to help articulate to your partner how you felt. You may even take it one step further by offering up solutions to resolve whatever the problem or disagreement was.
4 Ways to Cope with Negative Emotions
- Take time for yourself. Negative emotions may be consuming at times, especially if you have a lot going on or are stressed out. Work may be overwhelming and busy and additional life stressors may be weighing on you. Take some time to relax and recharge. Go for a hike, get a massage, or just break away from others. If you take the time to care for yourself, your mind will be more equipped to care for others.
- Breathe & Meditate. When negative emotions enter the mind, they can take you down a long and dark path. Incorporating meditation and breathing exercises into your day will shine some light on your path and will help to clear your mind from negativity.
- Exercise. Negative emotions are more prevalent when you are tired and lethargic. Exercise will help condition your body and subsequently strengthen your mind. Not to mention, exercise will release endorphins in your brain which will make you feel more relaxed.
- Redirect and distract yourself. When in doubt, remove yourself from a situation when negative emotions take control of you and your actions. Rather than think about the reasons why you are feeling the way you are, get involved in a mindful activity like coloring, knitting, reading, or playing an instrument. If you combine this activity with breathing exercises, your negative emotions will pass quickly. Afterwards, you will be able to determine whether they need to be addressed or not depending on what the issue was. Regardless, you will be in a better mindset to solve the problem.