How to Handle Negative Emotions

As we go through life, we will experience the good and the bad; both positive and negative emotions.  We like the positive emotions of joy, love, peace, contentment, happiness, etc. But how do we handle the negative or less positive emotions?  Many of us have become great at trying different things to distract us from feeling or processing our uncomfortable emotions.  We engage in overeating, overdrinking, excessive shopping, overworking, over-netflixing, over-Facebooking – you get the picture.  We buffer.  When we feel negative emotions, there are a few ways we can respond.

The three main things we do with uncomfortable emotions are to resist them, react to them, or avoid them.

Resisting – When we resist an emotion, we try to hold it back, suppress it, or not let it in.  By doing this, we actual intensify the emotion we are resisting.  Resisting causes the tension to build and we feel worse.  It’s like holding the door shut to keep the emotion in, rather than opening the door and allowing the emotion in.

Reacting – When we react to or act out the emotion, we feel like we are releasing the emotion.  But this is not processing the emotion at all.  It’s like a release value; the pressure builds until we explode.  Think of someone who screams and yells when they are angry.  This isn’t processing the emotion, but rather, reacting to it.  Or someone bingeing on a few drinks over a problem at work or stress at home.  They didn’t process the emotion – just reacted by drowning their emotions.

Avoiding – When we avoid any negative emotion, we use something in our lives to make us feel better, so we can get past the uncomfortable feeling quickly.  The most common ways to avoid our emotions include overworking, overeating, overdrinking, gambling, or looking at porn.  Our society propagates the message of overindulgence.  We look to feel good instantly by engaging in these behaviors.

The three main things we do with uncomfortable emotions are to resist them, react to them, or avoid them.

How To Handle Negative Emotions In a Way that Serves Us

We need to learn to allow our emotions – meaning to be present and to sit with them.  A feeling is simply a vibration in the body due to a thought we are having.  We can allow the vibration to be there and not react to it.  It can feel awkward or uncomfortable and that is okay.  It will pass eventually.  In the meantime, we can sit still with it and let it be.  Even press into it – truly fee it.

With the negative feeling, you still show up and continue to do your daily activities.  There is no resisting, reacting, or avoiding the emotion.  You allow the emotion to be there and it will move away on its own time.  As you experience and process the emotion, you are learning the skill of processing the emotion without buffering.  This serves you since you do not have to turn to food or drink or something else to feel better.

When we properly handle negative emotions, the world begins to change and stopping or cutting back on drinking becomes easier.

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