Negative emotions are inevitable and can be shifted into resourceful behavior.
If we understand them, own them and use them as a call to action, they can change our perspective and empower us.
I am a very emotional person, managing my negative emotions is a journey that I started years ago. In my case, I noticed that anger helps me be more creative in my art Aline's Cardboard, shame allows me to be more authentic and compassionate, sadness reinforces my sense of gratitude for what I have.
What is an emotion?
According to www.merriam-webster.com, an emotion is "a conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body"
Emotions are like waves. You can not stop them from coming but you can decide which ones to surf
Why are they both important?
We have positive and negative emotions - While positive emotions bring a pleasant feeling, like joy, happiness, serenity... the negative emotion is an unpleasant state, like fear, sadness... We need both to balance our well-being.
Positive emotion increase our level of motivation, satisfaction and thrive, while negative emotion are necessary for us to distinguish the positive emotions, like a counterpoint and also they serve as a purpose in life, they boost our survival instincts, they act as a motivator to grow and learn.
How to deal with negative emotion?
Here is the opportunity for you to learn from your emotions and turn them into meaningful action that will serve you in long term.
You would rather noticing it and gathering information about it than ignoring it. Get clarity about the emotion and its meaning at that moment.
What am I feeling (sad, guilty, angry...) about?
Why am I feeling this way?
What is happening in my body?
Be curious about its message. Observe your physiological reactions without judgment, notice your breathing, maybe the sweat on your hands, the color of your face...
Name it - is that guilt? sadness? anger?
At that point it's important to understand that the past can't be changed. No matter what happened, it's time to take responsibility. This emotion is yours. Accept that you feel this way.
Don't forget to be kind to yourself. Negative emotions are beneficial for your self-reflection, self-knowledge and growth. It's a natural part of you.
Listen it carefully, the emotion has an important message to tell you.
It might mean that something is wrong. It's like a red flag in your mind. Something may have to change.
Now you have to expand the perspective about this emotion. It's time to dissociate yourself from the emotion, and look at the big picture. Imagine the new possibilities that this emotion is giving you.
What if I did not feel (sad, angry...) about this event?
What's positive about this?
Use this emotion as an inspiration, a chance to learn something about yourself and use it as a call to action.
What triggers this emotion?
How can I avoid it?
How can I make things differently?
What did I learn about myself reacting like I did?
How would I rather feel?
What can be my approach next time?
Learn new ways to respond to emotional state instead of reacting to them. The more your know about it, the more you can control it.
Never let your emotions overpower your intelligence
Here are some examples of beneficial negative emotions that encourage us to act:
Anxiety helps us to reframe a situation and find new ways to overcome challenges.
Guilt helps us change our behavior and become a better version of ourselves.
When overcome, fear is liberating, it boosts our confidence and increases our sense of courage.
How to overcome fear during a pandemic?
- what we can control vs what we can't control
positive dreams and goals
- simple things that we have and we are grateful for.