Emotions and health are intimately connected. And while you respond to positive emotions well, it’s hard to say the same thing about negative emotions. How you deal with negative emotions is what determines whether they have a positive or detrimental impact on your health, life, and relationships.
So, what is the right way to deal with these emotions? Should you accept them for what they are? Should you wallow in them for extended periods? Or should you ignore them altogether? Let us look at how negative emotions impact your life and how you should deal with them on a daily basis to stay happy.
Positive Versus Negative Emotions
Emotions are important for your survival and self-preservation, and they play a major role in keeping you happy. How you experience and manage your emotions can boost your health, healing, intimacy, and personal growth. True happiness lies in how you learn to welcome all feelings, negative ones included, and respond to them positively. Emotions are often responses to what is happening in your body and mind and whether you are meeting the needs of both.
Living life while focusing on just positive emotions may not be as great as you think. Without a doubt, your mental and physical health will benefit. But, with all your focus on just positive emotions, you might be ignoring the danger that is right in front of you. Negative emotions may seem less useful, but they can change your life when considered more carefully. Imagine living in a world where no one felt disappointment when they failed at a cherished goal! Without negative feelings, you would be living in a world devoid of fully functioning humans.
Negative emotions serve as critical responses to dangerous or risky situations. They direct your attention toward solving problems, helping you develop your coping skills, and making you more adaptable. When viewed in this light, negative emotions are important as they point to an opportunity to fix something that’s not okay and to better yourself as a human being.1
Accepting Negative Emotions
Just as with positive emotions, negative emotions have a purpose, making it crucial to accept and experience them. That said, evading them is the more common response because they threaten your happiness.
Suppressing negative thoughts and emotions causes you to dwell on them for longer than necessary and experience a great deal of stress. This releases stress hormones, which ruin your immune system and make you vulnerable to illnesses.2 Instead of facing such avoidable adversities, accept your negative emotions and you’ll be one step closer to lasting happiness.3
Coping Strategies For Negative Emotions
It’s all about understanding negative emotions, keeping their destructive potential under control, and using them in a productive way. And the first step to doing this is, of course, accepting the negative emotions.
Once you have accepted the negative emotion you’re facing, learn to calm yourself:
- Practice deep breathing exercises.
- Experience your negative thoughts while mindfully meditating.
- Share your negative feelings with someone and tackle them together.
- When you are low, frightened, or angry, simply express your negative feelings. This might make you feel better without the need for further intervention.4
Negative feelings are not only normal and natural but can also serve as pathways to the happiness you seek. All you need to do is accept and manage them efficiently. Accept and respond to negative feelings in the right way to lead a much better, satisfying life.
|↑1||Norem, Julie K., and Edward C. Chang. “The positive psychology of negative thinking.” Journal of clinical psychology 58, no. 9 (2002): 993-1001.|
|↑2||Garland, Eric L., Kristin Carter, Katie Ropes, and Matthew O. Howard. “Thought suppression, impaired regulation of urges, and Addiction-Stroop predict affect-modulated cue-reactivity among alcohol dependent adults.” Biological psychology 89, no. 1 (2012): 87-93.|
|↑3||Ford, Brett Q., and Maya Tamir. “When getting angry is smart: emotional preferences and emotional intelligence.” Emotion 12, no. 4 (2012): 685.|
|↑4||Pennebaker, James W., Emmanuelle Zech, and Bernard Rimé. “Disclosing and sharing emotion: Psychological, social, and health consequences.” Handbook of bereavement research: Consequences, coping, and care (2001): 517-543.|