Do These 5 Things to Conquer Negative Emotions Every Time
We all have negative emotions at times, but none of us want to languish in those emotions. There are five sure ways to overcome negative emotions every time.
How are you feeling? Check in with yourself.
Dr. Gloria Wilcox created The Feelings Wheel, which helps individuals to recognize and name their emotions. Use it to check in with yourself. Acknowledging, expressing, and accepting your feelings without judgment is a healthy practice.
We are not socialized to express certain emotions, especially if those emotions are perceived as unfavorable. Messages like “big boys don’t cry,” “don’t be the angry black woman,” “never let them see you sweat,” “you’re a scaredy cat,” or “don’t be a wuss” are common messages that get ingrained in our psyche and do us harm. Those messages tell us that certain emotions are acceptable. But negative emotions like sadness, grief, anger, or fear are not okay.
So, what happens when we have emotions that are not socially acceptable? We suppress them, leading to other problems such as depression, anxiety, toxic relationships, and numbing with alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, and other destructive behaviors.
Please, learn to check in with yourself regularly and accept the full range of your emotions. You’re human. You were made to feel. When you hide your feelings, you conceal your fully authentic self.
5 Things You Can Do to Conquer Negative Emotions
Every day is not sunshine and butterflies. Let’s say today, this week, or this month is emotionally difficult. You’re going through a rough spell. You’re sad or in a funk. You’re resentful, anxious, or mad as hell. None of these emotions feels good. And while expressing and accepting negative emotions is healthy, none of us wants to languish in those emotions. So, I’m sharing five things we can do to overcome negative emotions that make them hard to persist.
1. Focus on what you’re grateful for.
It’s said that you can’t be angry and grateful at the same time. I’m not sure that’s entirely true; however, I absolutely believe that when we turn our focus toward all we’re grateful for, whatever we’re angry about, sad about, anxious about, feeling frustrated or disappointed about can suddenly seem small comparatively.
If you are feeling low, try turning toward the things in your life that make you happy and for which you are grateful:
To be alive
A warm bed
Food to eat
Clothes to wear
Family members or friends you love and trust
A significant other who loves you, including your flaws
A job or career that’s satisfying
The sunrise and sunset
A gratitude practice will help you see that what you have to be thankful for will always exceed the negative emotion you’re feeling in the moment. Practice gratitude for 10 minutes each day and watch how your mood changes for the better.
2. Serve others.
When we turn to serve others, especially those suffering more than we are, something magical happens inside us. We realize that we are indeed here for one another, and any action we can take to lift someone else has the added benefit of uplifting us.
A Swedish proverb says, “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.” So the next time you feel down, try serving another by holding space, listening, offering a smile or hug, or supplying some material need. Evidence shows that when you help others, a physiological change in your brain makes you feel a heightened sense of happiness and wellbeing.
A Chinese proverb sums it up best:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Try reaching out today to be in service to another.
A ton of research shows the benefits of journaling on our mental health. In an article for PositiivePsychology.com, Dr. Jeremy Sutton wrote, “Writing about stressful and traumatic events can significantly benefit our physical and emotional health…Research suggests that journaling can help us accept rather than judge our mental experiences, resulting in fewer negative emotions in response to stressors.”
I’m a big proponent of journaling. It’s how I start my day every day. I can attest that putting pen to paper and letting my thoughts and feelings flow is like a cleansing. So I created and published my own journal. On each page, I have space to check in on aspects of my wellbeing: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. I also have room to write about what inspires me and what I’m grateful for. Then I seal my journaling by setting an intention for the day on how I want to show up. I have never left my Morning Pages without feeling more positive than when I started.
Try journaling for 10 minutes every day for a week. You can follow my wellbeing prompts or go full-on with a stream of consciousness journaling. At the end of those 10 minutes, the sun will shine a little brighter on your day.
4. Visualize what could be worse.
The Stoics call it Negative Visualization or futurorum malorum praemeditatio – Latin for “pre-studying a bad future.” The idea of the exercise is to imagine or visualize the worst-case scenario. Literally asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Or “What is worse than what I’m feeling?” There are two reasons why thinking the worst help you conquer negative emotions such as fear and anxiety. First, by imagining the worst that could go wrong, you prepare your mind to handle it. So, if it does happen, you are less reactive and calmer. It’s like you’ve already seen that evil before, and it no longer scares you.
The second reason you would practice Negative Visualization is so that you truly realize that your situation is not as bad as it could be. In fact, we often overestimate the horror of our current circumstance and give it power that it does not have.
Regardless of how you use Negative Visualization, the point is that there is always something that could be worse. Recently, I saw a visual on Instagram that showed a tiny speck that represented earth next to the enormity of the Universe. Unfortunately, that’s often how our problems are. When we consider everything else that’s going on, we realize being upset because a relationship ended or angry because of something someone did to us are tiny matters.
This exercise may not work for everyone, but it’s worth trying. It always helps me put things in perspective.
5. Cultivate positive thoughts.
This is the opposite of looking for what can go wrong. Instead, you ask, “What could go right?” “How might this turn out better than I expect?” The more you express positive emotions like optimism, hope, love, compassion, and forgiveness, the easier it will be to access those emotions when you’re feeling low.
“The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.” ~ Dalai Lama
I hope you get what I intended or what you need from this article. First is to honor your feelings. They are valid. Second, when you’re ready to move on from negative emotions, there are proven and reliable actions you can take to conquer those emotions.
Thanks for reading and being a part of the Your Aha! Life Global Community. I hope you found this article affirming and helpful. Try one or more of the actions the next time you’re experiencing negative emotions. Please share the article with your friends.
If you are not a member of the Your Aha! Life Global Community, I invite you to subscribe today. You’ll receive my monthly newsletter and other member perks.
My purpose is helping others get to know, believe in, and accept themselves so that they live their best lives – lives with more joy, more purpose, and more fulfillment. Their Aha! Life. I’m so grateful you’re on the journey.
Want to connect with me personally? I’d love that. Email me at email@example.com and follow me on any of my social handles. I look forward to getting to know you and continuing our journeys together.
Learn My Story