8 simple steps to handling negative emotions

Emotions can be the best things in the world, especially when you are feeling love, happiness, and ecstasy.

But they can also be your living nightmares when you experience the worst of the worst: anxiety, depression, anger, absolute loneliness.

When we are children, we are taught to seek out for the positive emotions and hide away from the negative emotions.

This leaves us emotionally stunted as adults, because we end up without knowing how to handle negativity in a healthy manner.

We lose jobs, partners, relationships, and everything we’ve built at times, simply because we didn’t know how to handle negativity the right way.

So the next time you experience negative emotions, here are 8 ways you can make the most of your situation:

1) Identify the Emotion

The first thing you need to do is identify the emotion that’s causing you stress.

After all, if you don’t know what the problem is, how can you ever figure out how to solve it?

In some cases, this might be easy: you might understand right away that your pain is caused by loneliness or grief or stress.

But in other cases, it might not be so straightforward. You might have caused a thunderstorm of chaos in your life, but you still need to find the single emotion where everything started.

2) Ask Yourself: How Has the Emotion Changed Your Life?

Now that you have identified the emotion, it’s now time to figure out exactly what it has done to your personality and behavior.

Maybe you have become more subdued and quiet, or maybe you now lash out at friends and push away anyone who tries to help.

We all handle and react to emotions differently, and there is never a set formula for this.

The way you might react to sadness could be different to the way your partner handles sadness. Figure out how you are behaving differently because of the emotion.

3) Repeat to Yourself: This Will End

The one great thing that any emotion can do is convince you that it will last forever.

Whether it’s happiness or sadness, the brain has this odd ability to believe that the current emotion will be your state of mind for the rest of your life.

In some cases, this isn’t an issue: a bout of excitement might only last for a few minutes, and then you can move on.

In other cases, this can ruin your entire life; depression might last for weeks or months, and in that time it could feel like a lifetime has passed before it goes away.

So repeat to yourself: this will end. This will pass. Like every other emotion you have ever felt, this will eventually blow over and you will be able to live without it once again. When? That’s up to you.

[To dive deep into self-help techniques you can use to improve yourself, check out my no-nonsense guide to using eastern philosophy for a mindful and peaceful life here].

4) Find the Source of the Emotion

You know the emotion, and you know how it is changing your life. You have convinced yourself that it will someday end.

Now it’s time to start your journey towards that end, and the first step is to identify the source of the emotion.

While it might seem like abstract chaos going on in your head, there will always be a physical source for your stress.

It might be the death of a loved one, getting fired from a job, or a bad break up, but one way or another, there will always be something.

Find out what that “something” is. Don’t pretend that it isn’t affecting you just because you want to feel strong. Only until you find the source can you start working on it.

5) Accept

You now know the source of your pain. It’s time to get over it and accept. Accept that your life went in a direction that you didn’t expect and you didn’t like.

But time won’t stop for you; the world isn’t going to go on pause just because you feel emotionally fragile.

It’s time to pick your pieces up and put yourself back together, because what’s happened has happened, and the longer you let it get to you, the longer you let it continue to exist.

[To learn mindful techniques to help you accept your emotions, check out our eBook on the art of mindfulness here].

6) Again, Remind Yourself: This Will End

Once more, take a deep breath and say to yourself: This. Will. End. Do this for as many times as you like, until the weight in the chest begins to lighten up and until the clouds over your head begin to part.

7) Get Back in the Present

Here is one thing you won’t realize until you snap out of your negativity: for all this time, you have been living in the past.

You’ve been tied to that single, terrible event that rocked your world, and you haven’t been able to live in the present since then.

Your mind has been obsessed over it, whether you are aware of it or not.

Only by getting back in the present can you begin to leave it behind. Do whatever it takes: go out and party, read a book, enjoy yourself for the first time in a long time.

[Resilience and mental toughness are key attributes to living your best life. To learn what it means to be mentally tough. and how you boost your own resilience, check out my eBook on the Art of Resilience here]

8) Learn and Move On

This is it, the final step. Just because you know the emotion and you’ve snapped back to reality doesn’t mean your work is done.

Just because you are feeling good again for the first time in weeks or months doesn’t mean the lesson is over. The truth is, the lesson has just begun.

It’s time to learn. Take the time over the near future to understand what happened. See yourself in retrospect: the terrible event that set off your negative emotions, how you lost yourself in the storm of negativity, why you lost yourself, and how you picked yourself up again.

How can you handle yourself better next time? How can you prepare yourself? What was missing in your life that made you collapse so suddenly to this negativity?

Ask yourself these questions, and do your best to learn from them. Now it’s time to move on, with the knowledge that you can take anything the world throws at you.

Do you want to live a mindful life?

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In my new eBook, I unwrap these iconic teachings and detail specific actions you can take to improve your daily life. Together we're going to work to strengthen your relationships, increase your emotional resilience, and systematically train your mind.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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