We all experience negative feelings from time to time. How we manage them and having coping mechanisms in place is vital to ensure we can move forward and process our emotions in a healthy way.
Here are some of the most common negative feelings, what they mean, and how you can deal with them.
Anxiety is common and can be a very normal emotion to experience. Preparing for a difficult conversation or practicing for an important job interview are situations that are bound to invoke nerves.
However, constant anxiety, particularly around everyday circumstances, can build up over time and create a pressure cooker of emotions which has a negative stressor effect on our health, both mental and physical.
What can you do to cope with anxiety?
If you are experiencing extreme or very regular anxiety, it is critical to recognise this and set aside some time to work through the causes. Often, anxiety is an indicator of an underlying problem, and talking through your feelings with somebody you trust is a great way of trying to work through the issues that could be causing it.
Ensure that you are practicing good self-care by sleeping well, keeping yourself active, and putting time into maintaining your close relationships even when you find it difficult to express yourself.
If you feel able to, try keeping a regular journal to identify when your anxiety is at its peak. This should help identify which parts of your life are causing your anxiety, and give you an idea about where the stress is being created that you need to work on mitigating or eliminating from your life.
Further help and support is available should you be experiencing intense feelings of anxiety. Please check our article about emotion-focused coping techniques for more guidance on dealing with anxiety.
We can all feel guilty now and again; it is a negative emotion that can relate to any aspect of our lives. Parents often talk about guilt when trying to balance their priorities between parenting, career, social life and self-care.
Other triggers for feelings of guilt can involve being more fortunate than others or having to choose between social engagements or which friends to spend the most time with and feeling guilty at having had to make that choice.
You can also experience guilt as a result of having a guilty conscience; having done something you are not proud of, and then regretting your actions later.
How to cope with guilt
If you are struggling with feelings of guilt, the first step is to try and understand whether it is healthy or not. Should there be a clear and identifiable reason behind these negative feelings, and you know why you are experiencing guilt, this is likely a healthy emotion and a natural reaction to perhaps some behavior that you have come to regret.
In this circumstance there are several things you can do to alleviate your guilt:
- Taking ownership of whatever action it may be that you regret
- Apologizing to anybody who you feel you have wronged
- Finding ways of making amends for any hurt you may have caused
- Being prepared to listen to the person or people you have hurt, and giving them the time to find closure in explaining what you can do to move forward from this
How to manage unhealthy guilt
Unhealthy guilt is quite different and is where your emotions are not rational or identifiable. In this circumstance, you need to process the reasons behind your negative emotions and take steps to be able to clarify your mind to avoid dwelling on the situation unnecessarily.
This could involve speaking about your feeling with a group, or with a person you trust. You could try writing down exactly why you are experiencing guilt and try to identify things you can do to be proactive about controlling this emotion.
If your guilt is not within your control, you can look to work through those aspects which you can and identify where your behaviours can influence the situation.
Perhaps you have no reason to be experiencing guilt, in which case you need to ensure that you are not being manipulated into feeling guilty for events which you did not cause and move onwards and upwards.
Anger is probably one of the most common negative feelings. Everybody experiences anger to some extent when they feel wronged or treated unfairly.
How you manage anger, however, is crucial to maintaining healthy relationships and ensuring that your emotions are expressed clearly, whilst being under your control.
Ways to cope with anger
- Take a deep breath. Often anger is a knee jerk reaction. Try counting to 10 slowly, closing your eyes, and practice deep breathing. Sometimes taking a moment out of the situation can be enough to calm down, and process how you wish to respond.
- Give yourself some quiet time. If you are overwhelmed with a situation and feel as though you are close to lashing out, remove yourself to have some time to think and decide what course of action is best suited to the situation.
- Identify the cause of your anger. Sometimes anger is rational, and expressing your feelings is essential to be able to ‘get it off your chest’. Other times, you may be misdirecting your anger, and need to ensure that you are not pointing the finger of blame in the wrong place.
- Do something about it. Sometimes anger is frustration reaching the tipping point; if this is the scenario, try to take proactive and positive steps to dispel the circumstances which are leading you to experience negative emotions. Speak out, write a list, decide on actions – allow yourself to take active control of the situation.
If you are experiencing feelings of anger which you are struggling to control, do not hesitate to seek help. There are many anger management counsellors and groups who can help you work through the cause of your negative emotions and find healthy outlets to help you start feeling more positive.
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