Emotional Intelligence

How to Let Go of Negative Emotions

Dr. Noam Shpancer recently wrote on PsychologyToday.com:

Secondly, attempts at avoiding negative emotions are usually futile. Telling yourself that a certain emotion is intolerable or dangerous traps you in constant vigilance regarding the very thing you’re trying to avoid. 

Instead of avoiding negative emotions, you want to address them and then move on to new challenges and experiences.

Why Negative Emotions Can Trap Us

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you knew the outcome would not be positive? Despite your intuition, you went ahead and completed the scenario. You woke up the next day only to discover you should have listened to your instincts. You found yourself in a negative place because you ignored your inner voice. Honestly, we’ve all found ourselves in these situations. It’s up to us whether we learn from them or repeat them. This post shares background information on anxiety and explain how readers can purposefully let go of negative emotions, especially to alleviate their levels of stress and anxiety. This is particularly important when one is recovering from a traumatic event such as a divorce or experiencing exorbitant demands at work. Honestly, if you don’t deal with negative emotions, they could begin to harm your health and well-being. 

A Bit of Background on Anxiety – Negative Emotions at Work

Anxiety is a condition that affects millions of people in the U.S. each year. One way to think of anxiety is being in an excessive state of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness. Having fears or phobias that exert too much control over your thought processes, for example, can render you anxious throughout the day. According to WebMD, people suffer from a variety of disorders involving anxiety, stress, phobias, and panic. Their treating physicians must try to determine the cause of each of their symptoms. In addition, there are external factors that could cause people to feel anxiety, including the following:  

  • Stress at work
  • Stress from school
  • Stress in a romantic or family relationship 
  • Stress about finances
  • Stress from losing a loved one or another emotional trauma 
  • Stress from a serious medical condition
  • Side effect of a drug
  • Using an illegal drug
  • Symptom of an illness (i.e. heart attack, heat stroke, hypoglycemia)
  • Lack of oxygen due to altitude sickness, pulmonary embolism, or emphysema

1. Stop Wasting Time on Self-Blame and Regret

One feeling you can get after making a choice that wasn’t right for you is the tendency to blame yourself or to feel overcome with regret. However, allowing yourself to feel self-blame, loathing, shame, or regret will make you feel worse than you did before the bad experience. Beating yourself up over poor decisions makes you feel anxious. If you engage in thought processes that are not positive, then your level of anxiety can build up and assume control of your life. One solution for managing anxiety is accepting each situation after assessing what you learned from it. While accepting things in the present moment is something people do as they become self-aware, they also learn that mindfulness helps them to adjust their reactions to stressful situations. One definition of mindfulness is this: “Mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.” By choosing how they think, people can prevent themselves from staying in situations that don’t feel right.

2. Write Down Negative Emotions and Problems on Your Mind

This may seem like a no-brainer, but people may be aware that journaling is therapeutic and never take the time to do it. If you have a tablet or a smartphone, you could even dictate those emotions or problems weighing you down into a notepad application. Once you record them (even in a digital format), you’re acknowledging them. But, don’t read them over and over again and start to believe them or give them too much power over you. Write down negative emotions and problems and then use them as a starting point for planning how to resolve them.

3. Embrace a Cup Half-Full Mindset

When you wake up each morning, you have the power to choose the mindset for the day. If you view the events of the day as being negative and then determine there are no positive opportunities to enjoy, then you’re embracing a cup half-empty mindset. If you believe in yourself and decide you will do your best to handle each challenge and then imagine good things will happen, then you’re adopting a cup half-full mindset. The latter mindset will help you stay more relaxed and easygoing throughout the day.

4. Choose Activities That Make You Feel Successful

Like most busy people, you have a limited amount of time daily to achieve goals related to work, housekeeping, and relationships. Sometimes, you also get the time to relax, to catch up with friends or relatives, or to engage in recreation. If you’re going to be positive and release negative emotions, then don’t give them too much of your time. Instead, you become more protective of your mindset and emotions, which will affect your physical well-being. This includes choosing more carefully whom you spend time with and finding activities that make you feel successful. For example, someone who has just experienced a painful breakup or who has lost a loved one may need a new hobby or a sport to occupy their time. When you try new activities, you distract yourself from negative emotions. At the same time, you may also find joy in things you never imagined.

If negative emotions are presently causing you to feel overly anxious or uneasy, please give yourself time to implement changes in your daily lifestyle. Some people will consult a medical provider about whether they should take something natural or prescribed to regulate their emotions. They may only need a doctor’s treatment as a temporary measure until they feel ready to perform their own emotional self-regulation. Other people who have overwhelming negative emotions may enter therapy and work through their problems in a professional setting. They may or may not need medical treatment as well to resume control of their emotions.

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