BLOG_2020_04_23 How to Handle Negative Emotions and Thoughts
How to Handle Negative Emotions and Thoughts
23 APRIL 2020
You may be facing enormous uncertainty in your life right now. It may even be causing you to have flashbacks to your childhood when things were not in your control or you were scared, not knowing what was going to happen next. As human beings we are designed to survive through the fight or flight response – both raise our stress levels to help protect us, help us survive. When faced with continual stress, however, our minds and bodies pay the price. Emotions can run wild, heightened by exaggerated fear. The media has trained us to listen to doom and gloom rather than focusing on the positive; the vast majority of us are healthy and staying safe in our homes. Unless we are very careful, our health can suffer from the stress-causing us to eat continually, and not get enough exercise. Stress also wreaks havoc with our hormones keeping us out of balance.
When unfavorable events and emotional situations occur in our lives—there’s a good chance we will face negative emotions and thoughts.
At best, these negative thoughts and emotions cause frustration and anger. At worst, they cause undue suffering, uphill struggle, and sometimes even death.
The good news is: we have the power to change these negative thoughts and emotions.
Below are some ways to handle them so we can start experiencing new, more positive thoughts and emotions.
No matter how entrenched our thoughts and emotions seem, the act of noticing them begins the shift away from damaging thoughts and emotions. Put simply, we can't change what we're not aware of.
- One way to become aware is to just sit with our thoughts and watch for the emotions that develop. The goal here is to just notice, that's all. Are there certain times when we feel this way more than others? Does something trigger our emotions?
- In this step, it helps to focus our awareness on just the facts and feelings of the thoughts and emotions. It’s not time to wander into the analysis of "why" we are feeling what we are feeling right now. All that will do is distract our awareness as we often try to justify and defend our thoughts and perhaps even blame others. We can analyze later (see below); for now, just notice.
- We can also ask people we trust to help us see any patterns. Our blind spots are called "blind" for a reason; we just don't see them. But they'll be clear as day to others.
- Once we are aware of our negative thoughts and emotions, acknowledge them, and thank them. Remember they’re likely there to protect us. Don’t try to resist them as what we resist, persists. We can say something like, “Wow, that emotion is very interesting.” Don’t pass judgment - just acknowledge they are there
Are Our Emotions Serving Us? (Analysis stage)
- By becoming aware of our negative thoughts and emotions, we can see evidence they are not serving us but perhaps damaging, us. For example, we continually pick fights with our family members so we can get some alone time, causing tension and unhappiness in the family. There are more positive ways of getting some alone time – have each family member define what it is they need the most and determine together how each person can get what they need.
Look for (and Create) Positive Thoughts and Emotions.
- One of the best ways to disrupt our negative emotions and thoughts wreaking havoc with our lives is to study the positive emotions and thoughts in our lives. Notice when you feel happy? It helps to keep a journal – jot it down when you become aware of being happy. Can you find a pattern?
Find ways to feel happy that do not depend on external forces; try dancing, singing, thinking of happy memories, or being creative in another way. Giving back to others will also make most people experience joy. Even the simple act of smiling and laughing can raise our spirits and turn our day around. Remember, smiling and laughter is contagious. So let’s all smile and laugh more to help spread the love, joy, and happiness around!
Based on your power to change negative thoughts and emotions,
what is one thing you can do right now to bring happiness and joy to this very moment?