What are Negative Emotions and How to Control Them?
They are basal responses that begin in the subcortical areas of the brain responsible for producing biochemical reactions to environmental stimuli that have a direct impact on our physical state.
Coded into our DNA, emotions help us respond quickly to threats, like our ‘fight or flight’ response. Also, they can often be measured objectively through physical cues such as blood flow, heart rate, brain activity, facial expressions, and body language.
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Feelings are preceded by emotions and tend to be our reactions to them. Emotions are a more generalized experience across humans, but feelings are more subjective and influenced by our personal experiences and interpretations, thus they are harder to measure.
They can be defined as unpleasant or unhappy emotions evoked in individuals to express a negative effect towards something.
Although some are labeled negative, all emotions are normal to the human experience. And it’s important to understand when and why negative emotions might arise, and develop positive behaviors to address them.
Negative emotions are uncomfortable, but they aren’t a sign of weakness or low emotional intelligence and ignoring them can increase emotional pain. Exploring and understanding their purpose, we can learn ways to respond which supports our emotional growth and sense of well-being.
Emotions are a low-level reaction so you can decide how you respond to them and not let them hijack your behavior.
Spending too much time dwelling on negative emotions and their sources can lead to a spiral of rumination. Rumination is obsessing over negative emotional situations, which can eventually negatively affect your mental and physical wellbeing.
The problem with rumination is that it increases your brain’s stress response circuit, meaning your body gets unnecessarily flooded with the stress hormone cortisol, which is a driver for clinical depression.
If we can reframe difficult or negative emotions as part of the bigger picture of overall happiness, they can instruct us that a change is needed and we need to act on the negative behavior to create the change that would lead us to further happiness.
This approach sees us embracing adversity, discomfort and negative emotions as a path to building better resilience and a deeper connection with who we want to be and how we want to show up in the world.
One of the best ways to deal with negative emotions, in us or in others, is through acceptance. It allows us to build better compassion for how they might present themselves and why.
Acceptance allows us to change how we might respond to negative emotions and develop behaviors that are meaningful and bring value to how we express ourselves and engage with others.
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Mindfulness can bring improvements in all of these facets.
Within the universe of Mindfulness (following Buddhism), these are emotions that arise in reaction to an experience of displeasure or discomfort in our life, and that make us react without more control of the mind.
Afflictive emotions are not the basic ones of our human condition, like fear, anguish or the most primary anger, but what we do with them.
Use plain language. The more fluent you are with real emotional language, the more clearly you will be able to think about how you’re feeling.
Get used to the idea of emotional complexity. When we feel upset, we're not feeling one single emotion. We are usually experiencing a blend of many emotions.
Training ourselves to look for and see this emotional complexity is key to better understanding ourselves when we’re upset and moving on in a healthy way.
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It’s hard not to get worked up emotionally when you’re in a tense conversation: a disagreement can feel like a threat.
But if your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, ...
When you start noticing yourself getting tense, try to focus on breathing (on feeling the air coming in and out of your lungs).
This will take your attention off the physical signs of panic and keep you centered.
Sitting still when you’re having a difficult conversation can make the emotions build up rather than dissipate.
Standing up and walking around helps to activate the thinking part of your brain.
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