Many of my recent conversations with clients, including the ones I have with myself, have evolved around dealing with negative emotions. To be specific; how one can get rid of them, change them, or avoid them. Given the many unpleasant things that keep happening to people at home or at work, I thought that it would be a good idea to take a closer look at strategies that will help us successfully navigate these hurdles.
Unfortunately, negative emotions are unavoidable. As long we are alive we will have to experience them. That’s part of the contract that we signed up for when we decided to be a human. You could have decided to be a flower and not have emotions, but that’s an entirely different conversation. There seems to be a handful of people who very seldom experience negative emotions, but for most of us getting upset or depressed or disappointed is part of living. The following are four steps to assist you in successfully managing your emotions.
1. NOTICE what’s REALLY going on.
The first step that I encourage my clients to take is to acknowledge that they are experiencing something unpleasant. Perhaps they are upset or disappointed about something that took place earlier in the day. Or maybe the negativity was self-generated by placing a judgment on themselves. Take a moment to identify where the negativity is being generated. Why are you responding in this particular way?
2. Don’t make it mean MORE.
Most of the time we stop at the initial reaction and we don’t take the time to figure out what is truly upsetting us. We start to complain and tell the story of why we were wronged or why this is so terrible. Admit it, most of the time we make it worse than it is. Take a look at what happens when you keep telling the story. Does it change anything? Instead, just stop telling the story, accept the emotion for what it is and decide what you would like to experience next.
3. Decide WHO you want to be in the face of negativity.
Most of us play small when we are feeling negative. Right in that moment begin to recognize that you are making a choice. You can decide to be different at a moment’s notice. Instead of being a victim and complaining about what is going on, you can decide to take charge and be courageous. What do I mean by being? Elevate your consciousness and assume a different emotional position. It might be difficult in the beginning, but I suggest that you fake it until you make it. When you are being in a state of positive consciousness your brain will naturally support the process of creativity.
You will also need to decide on your direction. Where are you headed? What do you want to create in this situation? Even in a powerless situation you can choose your attitude. All this helps you figure out who you want to be in the face of negativity.
4. Love Yourself and Others Through the Process.
Being human is not easy. The road is rocky because our past has shaped the present and often is still influencing our future. Be patient with yourself and others and know that we are all in this together. The better you are at dealing with your negative emotions, the happier you and everyone around you will be.
I recently got my car towed. Rather than getting upset with my dyslexic self because I had read the signs wrong and had to be somewhere in 20 minutes (and it was pouring down rain and my cell phone was dead), I decided to love myself; to be adventurous and grateful that I was in a financial position to be able pay the fine. I know, ‘easy for me to say and be …’ well, actually not so easy, but I was committed to not having my initial negative response ruin my weekend. And by using these steps I got to have a positive experience in a challenging moment and the weekend was fun.