How to Overcome Negative Emotions


When experiencing negative emotions, we commonly avoid, distract, change, suppress or ignore the feeling. It feels like this is the best way to reduce the pain, but it backfires.

It’s not the emotion that is painful; it’s the resistance you have towards the emotion that’s painful. Some examples of negative emotions you could feel are anger, sadness, nervousness, anxiety, boredom, fear, jealousy, depression and many more.

Strong negative emotions could occur for various reasons, the loss of someone close to you, a breakup, the nerves before public speaking, doing something you find frightening. Your natural reaction is to resist the negative emotion because it feels painful to deal with. 

 

The Solution

When the negative emotion comes up, rather than resisting it, feel into the emotion. Without trying to fight it or change it, allow yourself to feel whatever is there. If you’re angry, your chest and shoulders might feel tense. If you feel sad or defeated, your head and neck might feel heavy. 

Recognise as much as you can about the emotion. Is it a continuous feeling, or does it come in waves? Does it cover a wide area, or is it in a specific area? Is it a sharp or dull sensation? 

Most people try to think positively or change their mindset before establishing what emotions they’re even feeling. Feeling into the emotion is crucial to overcoming all negative emotions because you first need to understand what you’re experiencing. If you try to suppress the emotion and then change your mindset to think positively, this isn’t an effective method for dealing with it.

 

Use Permanent Rather Than Temporary Solutions

Firstly, you might not get instant relief from doing that anyway because the emotion is still present. But even if you can relieve the negative emotion, it’s only a temporary solution, and the negative emotion will return.

That’s not to say that the negative emotion won’t return just because you’ve let go of the resistance, but when it returns, you can repeat the process again.

When you avoid the emotion, you’re not eliminating it; you’re instead just suppressing it. Suppressing the feeling comes back to haunt you because the negative emotions will reappear at random times. When they reappear, it’s not always clear what the emotion relates to.

This is typically the case for people who face some kind of trauma when they’re younger. The trauma never gets confronted and can lead to lots of psychological issues decades later.

One of the reasons it’s important to do this is because it allows you to confront your emotions at the time. If you try to suppress it, it hurts you more in the long run because you never fully dealt with the emotion. It takes longer to move on from the negative emotion because you didn’t deal with it at the time, so it begins to rot your psychology.

It’s also the case with people that don’t allow themselves to grieve during difficult situations. They try to eliminate negative emotions by distracting themselves with people, material possessions, and entertainment. But then, when they’re by themselves, they’re forced to deal with the emotion.

 

Where Is the Pain Coming From? 

Another consideration is that your brain is often misinformed on what is causing the negative emotion. For example, when you procrastinate on doing something, it feels like the negative feeling is coming from the thought of doing the task. However, it’s coming from your resistance to doing the task. 

The negative emotion you’ve been experiencing disappears when you stop resisting and start the task you’ve been meaning to start. The task is never as bad as your mind makes it out to be.

The same thing occurs for any type of negative emotion. It can feel painful when you’re trying to escape a negative emotion because you’ve got lots of resistance built up. But when you let yourself feel into the negative emotion, you can let go of the resistance that you were experiencing.

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