DISCLAIMER: This post is all about how to deal with negative emotions — and at the same time — how sometimes, sadness, anger, fear, guilt aren’t all bad. It’s okay to be dramatic before you get over your emotions. The post here is for informational purposes. It does by no means replace the professional judgment of a healthcare professional. If anything, this post is a pathway to accepting some of the negative emotions, we humans, have to deal with every day.
Let’s stop turning our back to our negative emotions.
I’ve been told millions of times how people want happy, brave, and chirpy personalities around them. A person I needed validation from for the longest time once told me, “I don’t like having people crying over things around me.”
Most of my life has been spent trying to become smaller.
I tried to become less sensitive. Less sad, less angry, less me. Basically, less human.
Because I didn’t want to be a burden. I wanted to be likable. I tried to be over-rational. And, I did not want to allow my emotions to take over. Of course, I wanted people to want to be around me. We all do, don’t we?
When I was sad, I wanted to stop it. The sadness made me feel helpless. “Why can’t I just be happy?” I’d ask myself and not say a thing to anyone.
When I was angry, I felt I was a bad person. Yet again there it was — a pang of guilt — “I have created a storm, then why am I getting mad that it’s raining?”
When I was scared or anxious, I called myself a coward. Belittling myself became easier, like insecurities were not already enough.
When I was guilty, I would tell myself, “I am not enough.” Guess what? I’ll never be enough for anyone.
I’d put off confronting a difficult situation or making a necessary decision all the time.
It’s not only my story, I know.
This had to stop. So I changed my perspective about these feelings.
Sadness, anger, fear, guilt — how to deal with negative emotions the right way?
There must be a really good reason for negative feelings to exist for so long. It makes me think, are negative emotions all bad? Should we really try to get rid of them?
We obviously are not going to enjoy every emotion. But it can’t be impossible to learn to reframe our minds to enjoy them.
It’s possible to work with your feelings, rather than against them.
Let’s bust some myths about anger, fear, sadness, and guilt. We may perceive them as negative, but we can learn how to deal with negative emotions and use them for good too.
Let’s dive in.
Fear / Anxiety
Listen when I have a bad feeling about someone, someplace or something, if not always, 99.5% of the time I am right. Our anxiety and fear always mirror what our body wants to tell us. It teaches us to get out of a situation where we are facing conflict. The fight or flight response warns us we’re in danger. Would you sit for a lion to eat you up? No, you will run. Why? Because of fear.
Our fear let us know when to leave.
The party. The job. The relationship.
As your stomach clenches, muscles tense, heart pounds, palms get sweaty and your fingertips tingle, your whole body is on a high alert. You are scared. I do have these feelings when I am in danger. It’s often about the things that we are obsessing about a lot, like a bad job.
So, when your intuition, or say gut feeling, tells you that you’re in trouble, ask yourself questions. What is this emotion inviting you to change in your life? Do you need to walk away from something? What is causing you to be scared and distressed?
It may feel hard to turn the page, but the story must go on.
Imagine a world without fear. If all of us were fearless, we could be psychopaths. Doesn’t that sound like a dangerous situation?
This is one emotion I get to feel more than often. I am not aggressive. I don’t break things, I don’t beat people up, that’s aggression. Anger and aggression are different. I am not aggressive, but I get angry. And as long as aggression and anger are not the same emotions, it’s okay to be angry.
People feel angry when they get a sense of injustice and unfairness.
If I am angry because something in front of me gives me a sense of unfairness and injustice, is it bad, really? When someone wrongs us or hurts someone we care about, we get angry. It’s natural.
The emotion is not bad. It helps us know we need to face a situation that is important and address it. We can address it through problem-solving, protest, forgiveness, or any other option. As long as you channel it properly, anger is not bad.
It’s important to channel anger properly.
There is no way we are not going to get mad at situations. So, it’s wise to accept anger as an emotion that helps us realize what is the injustice in that situation. It leads us to contemplate what we can do about it and feel better.
This one is a tough one.
People have a million things to say to you when you cry.
Why are you crying? Is this something you should really be crying about? You are weak. Toughen up. You were not a sad sack before. Oh, come on! Don’t be a cry baby! You are too emotional. Do you have to cry on that scene, like really? You are a sob story.
So, we cry behind closed doors, where no one can see us. We’ll bury our face in a towel and howl and weep our eyes out, so no one can hear us.
When we do that, however, neither we grow stronger nor we learn to accept that there has been a dent in our mental space.
It’s unhealthy to feel ashamed of crying. So, how to deal with negative emotions like that? I’ve changed my perspective now.
I think being broken is the first step to making more authentic decisions. If we never were sad, we would be ok with people dying, people leaving us, and opportunities getting missed.
Without sadness, we’d never cherish the relationships we have, because, meh, we won’t feel hurt if we lose anyone.
I think it’s very important to be sad. Because if we are brave enough to, we might as well hear our heart’s wisdom through it.
I cry when I feel like growing so I water my soul.
I owe myself the biggest apology for putting up with guilt I don’t deserve. God knows I have felt guilty even for achieving my goals so that no one around me is hurt that I finally achieved them, and well, they did not. Guilt is an emotion that makes me empathetic. It’s good to be empathetic, but when the situation leads me to being stressed to do something, or failing to do something or makes me overwhelmed by my obligations, it makes me think.
Is the guilt there because I need to change something in my life? Or is it telling me I am doing too much? There must be a way to reframe the guilt.
It’s impossible to help everyone. Don’t let that guilt fall on your shoulders every time.
Guilt for me was often linked to the fact that I am not taking care of myself or I am over obliged.
So, everyone should ask themselves if they are feeling over obliged. It’s as important to be empathetic to yourself as you are to others, if not more important.
At times, closure arrives years later. Sometimes, long after we have stopped searching for it. And when it arrives with no epiphany, you will feel good for the goodbyes — they led you to the space you are now holding.
Stop stressing over the obligation of being grateful for what happened to you in the past. Stop caring if it made you a stronger person. You didn’t need to be stronger. You needed to be a child.
Over to you
How about starting to be kinder to the past versions of yourself? They didn’t know the things you know now, do they? Now you know how to deal with negative emotions, well, some of them, if not all of them.
Let’s admit we have negative emotions. Embrace them. Let them sit in us. If we fight them, it might be destructive. So, let’s allow the negative emotions to walk us through the things we need to know and they’ll eventually leave us too.
Some days, life will be all about dreams, goals, and hopes for the future.
But there will be some days where life will be just about putting one foot in front of the other.
And that’s okay.