06 Jun Negative Emotions: Are they bad?
We all have those feelings that we want to avoid or replace with ‘good’ feelings. When we are happy or ecstatic, we what to share it with those around us. On the other hand, when we feel anger, frustration, fear, and other “negative emotions” we want to shove it to the back of our minds and move on.
Negative emotions are all part of the human experience. We often see them as emotions to be avoided, ignored, or otherwise denied, but interestingly, they can be healthy. These feelings are beneficial, important even, because they can also send us messages.
- Anger and anxiety show that something needs to change and that perhaps our well-being has been threatened.
- Fear is an appeal to increase your level of safety
- Frustration or resentment motivates us to change something in a relationship or a situation (1)
Simply put, negative emotions are like symptoms that we need to take note of. They are alerting us to something that needs to change and to push us to make that change.
So, what are we supposed to do?
We cannot escape or avoid negative emotions, so we manage them.
How do we manage them?
We embrace the negative emotions and in doing so we allow ourselves to feel the negative emotion and experience it in its entirety. In this way we open our minds to understanding why we feel this way and allow ourselves to receive the messages that these emotions are sending us before we release them and move forward.
For example, at work you may have put in a lot of hours and effort to prepare a presentation that your team or co-workers may have ignored or disregarded. This may cause you to feel angry and resentful. Feeling angry is expected since you feel you were not treated right, and your hard work was not acknowledged. But when you work through your anger you remind yourself that you did a great job even though others did not see it. And that you can control your actions, but you cannot control those of others. This will not only help to dissipate the anger but will help you to start moving through the anger and away from it.
Here are some coping techniques to try the next time you experience a negative emotion:
- Try to be reasonable
- Relax: use pleasant activities like reading, walking or talking to a friend.
- Learn: notice how grief, loss and anger make you feel, and which events trigger those feelings so you can prepare in advance.
- Exercise: aerobic activity lowers your level of stress chemicals and allows you to cope better with negative emotions.
But what if it is a close friend or family who is dealing with negative feelings?
Handling negative people is a drain on our energy. But sometimes we need to learn how to deal with negative people, particularly if those people are close friends or family members or even colleagues who you interact with daily. While you may not be able to help them there are ways in which you can support them.
The next time a negative person is venting to you, remember to control what you can and eliminate what you cannot. Hopefully, this person will want to change someday. Until then, we can continue to come from a place of compassion and understanding. You can try in earnest to accept them as they are, let them know you believe in their ability to be happy, and give them space to make the choice.
3 key things to keep in mind when dealing with a negative friend or family so you can keep the peace and your sanity:
- Resist the urge to judge. Something may be going on behind closed doors that you are not aware of, so try to be curious and non-judgmental in your approach. Negativity can be disguising as a cry for help.
- Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you become defensive and let your emotions fuel the situation, this person will quickly realize that they can depend on you for a response that justifies their negativity.
- Establish and maintain a positive boundary: Boundaries are necessary for a healthy relationship, and they are a sign of self-respect. To best support others, we need to be the best version of ourselves first.
If you are unsure of where to start with understanding or managing negative emotions, you can speak with one of the doctors at Health at Hand doctor for guidance.