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What are Negative Emotions and How to Control Them?

Benefits Of Negative Emotions

  • Sadness helps you focus on details, as it alerts you to something that isn’t right and asks us to turn our attention to why this may be.
  • Anger can motivate you to address problems in order to restore peace.
  • Anxiety’s discomfort quickly encourages you to seek new ways of approaching problems.
  • Guilt serves as a self-punishing device for perceived transgressions, thus helping you change or prevent negative behavior.
  • Jealousy more often turns into “benign envy”, which motivates you to work harder.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

What are Negative Emotions and How to Control Them?

What are Negative Emotions and How to Control Them?

https://positivepsychology.com/negative-emotions/

positivepsychology.com

9

Key Ideas

Emotions

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.

Feelings

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.

Negative Emotions

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.

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. 

Rumination

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.

Research On Rumination

  • It has been linked to overeating, smoking, alcoholism, insomnia, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and clinical anxiety and depression.
  • Excessive rumination after a negative emotional experience leads to prolonged recovery time from the physiological impact of the experience.
  • Many confuse it with problem-solving which can lead to prolonged ruminating and further implications for mental and physical wellbeing.

Benefits Of Negative Emotions

  • Sadness helps you focus on details, as it alerts you to something that isn’t right and asks us to turn our attention to why this may be.
  • Anger can motivate you to address problems in order to restore peace.
  • Anxiety’s discomfort quickly encourages you to seek new ways of approaching problems.
  • Guilt serves as a self-punishing device for perceived transgressions, thus helping you change or prevent negative behavior.
  • Jealousy more often turns into “benign envy”, which motivates you to work harder.

Negative Emotions as Motivation

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.

Process Negative Emotions

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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Emotions are present at all times

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We are emotional beings and there is no experience that does not receive the imp...

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.

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.

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.

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Emotions During a Difficult Conversation

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,  ...

Breathe

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.

Focus on your body

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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Gain Control Over Your Mood
  • Label Your Emotions: There are times that you might feel different emotions. Pay attention to what's really going on inside you to help you take a lot of sting out of that em...
Mood Control = Positive Outlook

Emotions are powerful and managing it is tough at times. But by gaining control over them makes you mentally stronger.

You'll gain confidence in your ability to handle discomfort while also knowing that you can make healthy choices that shift your mood.

Stigmatizing "bad" feelings

By stigmatizing uncomfortable feelings, we tend to eliminate the visibility of these emotions in society and people who feel sad or depressed believe they are the only ones who feel this ...

Understanding the source of the emotion puts you in a position to problem-solve it, which means you are back in control and can resolve the emotion.

Understanding the source of the emotion puts you in a position to problem-solve it, which means you are back in control and can resolve the emotion.
There are no bad emotions

Emotions are not “bad” or “good” but simply “comfortable” or “uncomfortable.” And even uncomfortable emotions (like sadness, anger etc) help us point issues we ignored about ourselves.

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Sadness and Cigarettes

Our moods and emotions play a powerful role in our behavioral choices and health.

Extensive studies show that sadness is related to tobacco use, with people wanting to puff away mor...

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.
Self-distancing

The act of increasing the psychological distance from your own subjective perspective when assessing events that you experience.

Is an external perspective that you can use when th...

Benefits of self-distancing
  • It can help people cope with difficult events from their past.
  • It can  help people deal with socially distressful situations.
  • Useful because of our tendency to display high levels of wise reasoning when we give advice to others, but not when we decide how to act for ourselves.
  • It reduces decisional biases and improves decision-making during times of information overload.
How to create self-distance
  • Use self-distancing language:  refer to yourself in the second or third-person.
  • Try to view the situation from an alternative viewpoint, that is different from your own.
  • Try to visualize the perspective of  someone you admire, and then ask yourself what would they do in that situation.
  • Try expressive writing: write about your thoughts and feelings when you’re trying to analyze an event that you’ve experienced.
Awe brings perspective

Each of us is the protagonist of our own life. Our goals feel like the most important thing in our world.

But every now and then, a moment of awe challenges our understanding of the world...

Defining Awe

Awe is an emotional response to being in the presence of something greater than yourself, and that exceeds current knowledge structures.

Awe is a positive emotion and has a broadening effect on our thoughts and actions.

Awe-inducing stimuli

Feelings of awe have historically been recorded when individuals encounter contact with a "higher" power.

In modern times, the main triggers of awe are philosophical ones such as literature, music, paintings, and nature. Examples include natural wonders or events such as childbirth.

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2. Mind Your Tone

We tend to respond to people using the same tone they use to speak to us.

If you need to have an emotionally charged conversation, speak in a way that's calm and collected. And ...

3. Mute

Sharing your opinion when others are aggravated can be counterproductive. If things get emotional, and you can’t leave, you may need to stop talking and let them express their feelings.

Breathe deeply and remember that moods are temporary. And that their words at this point may be extreme or exaggerated; resist the urge to respond in kind. Often, once they let everything out, they'll calm down. 

4. Record

Recording is concentrated listening, with the intent to learn more about another's perspective. You're not trying to figure out how to reply; instead, you're listening to understand.

As you tune into another, don't judge or offer advice. Instead, focus on learning more about how the other person sees you, how they see themselves, and how they see the situation.

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