Any feeling that causes you to be sad and miserable can be described as negative emotions. These emotions may take away your confidence and make you dislike yourself and others. They can all lead to stress and are often seen as emotions to be avoided, ignored, or in other ways disavowed, but they can actually be healthy for us to experience as well.
Emotions that can become negative are anger, hate, sadness, and jealousy. Yet, in the right context, these feelings are completely natural. Negative emotions can dampen our enthusiasm for life, depending on the way we choose to express them and on how long we let them affect us.
If you are aware of what negative emotion you are feeling, but you are not sure what thoughts are causing it, you may be able to figure out the thoughts by assuming that it is going to be a certain type:
- Self-critical thoughts
- Pessimistic thoughts
- Thoughts of loss or failure
- Thoughts of something bad that could happen in the future
- Thoughts of threat, risk or danger
- What-if thoughts
- “should” thoughts
- Thoughts of having been harmed, having been treated unfairly
- Thoughts of rules being broken
- Thoughts of having harmed someone
- Thoughts of having done something that goes against your own morals
- A sense of responsibility for a negative outcome
- Thoughts that other will judge flaws or mistakes in a negative way
Negative emotions stop us from behaving and thinking rationally and seeing situations in their true perspective. When this occurs, we tend to see only what we want to see and remember only what we want to remember. This prevents us from enjoying life and only prolongs the anger or grief.
The longer this goes on, the more entrenched the problem becomes. Dealing with negative emotions inappropriately can also be harmful like expressing anger with violence.
Emotions are as we think psychological and biological as we feel. Our brain responds to our thoughts by releasing chemicals and hormones, which send us into a state of arousal. Whether positive or negative, all emotions come about in this way.
Often we don’t have the skills to deal with negative feelings, because it is a complex process and that’s why we find it hard to cope when we experience them.
To deal with negative emotions there are a number of coping strategies. These include:
- Try to be reasonable – think of ways to make you better and accept those bad feelings are occasionally unavoidable.
- Relax – use pleasant activities like talking to a friend, reading or walking.
- Learn – notice how anger, loss, and grief 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.
- Let go of the past – constantly going over negative events makes you feel bad and robs you of the present.
- Don’t blow things out of proportion by going over them again and again in your mind.