Handling Negative Emotions - Deepstash

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What are Negative Emotions and How to Control Them?

Handling Negative Emotions

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. 

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Emotional clarity

It means that we have a good understanding of how we feel emotionally. 

Label your emotions

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.

Clarify your emotions

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.

Emotions are present at all times

Most emotions arise unconsciously as ways of adapting to changes in the environment or in our own mind.

We are emotional beings and there is no experience that does not receive the impact, softer or more intense, of our affective life.

The loss of emotional regulation brings:
  • Non-acceptance of emotional response (reacting to the expression of emotion)
  • Difficulty to commit to planned goals (by the irruption of afflictive emotion)
  • Difficulty in controlling impulses (not being able to inhibit)
  • Lack of emotional awareness (not being able to name it, label it)
  • Limited access to emotional regulation strategies (not knowing how to regain control over afflictive emotion)
  • Lack of emotional clarity (not being able to discern the emotions that appear)

Mindfulness can bring improvements in all of these facets.

Afflictive emotions

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.

Negative Emotions at Work

Recounting the things that made us miserable one day doesn’t help us enjoy our workday more tomorrow.

A better strategy is to actually address the negative feelings we have.

Emotion regulation strategies
  • Mindful acceptance: Let be the things you cannot change. Write out a list of the things you can and cannot control. Acknowledge your emotions but don't hold on to them.
  • Self-distancing: Observe your situation like a “fly on the wall”.  Mentally remove yourself from the situation that is causing negative emotions. Being like a fly on the wall helps to cultivate a broader perspective.
  • Reappraisal: Find the positives in negative situations. Learn to pause in the face of something negative and think of or write down at least one positive.
  • Practice makes perfect.  Try these techniques in easier practice situations, and you will build your emotion regulation ability, so that you’re more prepared to handle the tougher situations.