Negative emotions can be overwhelming, but there’s hope. You don’t have to let them control your life anymore.
“Control your negative emotions!” It sounds easy, but it’s not. In fact, it may feel virtually impossible to control the negative emotion that consumes your body and mind. You want to shout, cry or just disappear from the situation.
But, these reactions will not make the situation better. Actually, they will only hurt you and those who are close to you. Therefore, it’s imperative that you learn how to deal with negative emotions so that they do not control your life.
According to research, negative emotions are more than just ‘feelings.’ In fact, they influence the way you assess situations, your thought process, your ability to act and even the influence you have on others (Parrott, 2002).
Now, let’s discover what exactly negative emotions are, their causes and how to control them.
What are negative emotions?
Studies show that there are six basic emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise. Negative emotions are those that cause you to have unpleasant feelings.
No matter how well you control your emotions, you cannot entirely avoid negative feelings. However, the problem arises when these feelings become habitual and continuously affect the way you think and act.
Abnormal negative emotions include excessive anger or hatred, overwhelming fear, greed for power and pleasure, alienation from other people’s pain and excessive desire to control everything.
Here’s an 8-Book box set. Each book focuses on 1 of 8 emotions (Anger, Anxiety, Peace, Happiness, Sadness, Confidence, Love and Scribble Emotion). This is a perfect resource with expert concepts and illustrations, to explain and teach your children how to manage these emotions.
What causes negative emotions?
The way you process negative emotions is influenced by your race, culture, social norms etc. Actually, negative emotions are triggered by pretty much everything.
However, stress, anxiety, relationship problems and traumatic experiences tend to stimulate negative emotions even more.
“The greatest enemy of success and happinesss are negative emotions of all kinds.” ― Brian Tracy
Stress and anxiety
People who are under pressure either for health or other personal reasons tend to be more irritable and stressed, which causes or increases negative emotions.
This includes unfulfilled expectation arising from not having enough time or resources to accomplish what you want.
When there are unresolved issues in your relationship, it’s normal for feelings of anger and sadness to arise more often.
Additionally, if you’re not satisfied with how your life is going and constantly having arguments with others, you may start to feel a lot of negativity as well.
Experiences that cause fear, shock or surprise are often related with negative feelings. Past traumatic issues can lead to psychological distress and poor self-image.
As such, you may feel constantly drained and experience feelings of worry, guilt and worthlessness on a daily basis.
Tips to control negative emotions
The science behind negative emotions is complex. But, the important thing to understand is that you don’t have to be a victim of them. There are numerous ways to control negative emotions and keep yourself in an optimal psychological state.
It’s never too late to start taking steps towards being more mindful of how you react when something goes wrong or someone disappoints you – even if it takes some time for things to change.
To control negative emotions you should:
- Acknowledge your emotions.
- Discover what triggers these negative emotions.
- Engage in physical action.
- Talk it out.
- Look at the big picture.
- Get some fresh air.
- Think rationally.
- Look at the situation from a different perspective.
- Acknowledge your strength.
- Take deep breaths.
- Get enough sleep
- Eat regularly.
- Practice daily meditation.
- Avoid toxic substances and stimulants.
- Prepare for the worst.
- Eliminate unnecessary stress.
- Give yourself time to recover.
- Write your feelings down.
- Develop a positive attitude.
- Listen to music.
- Delay acting when you’re upset.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Seek professional help.
1.Acknowledge your emotions
When you experience negative emotions, tell yourself that it is normal to be unhappy with the situation.
There is no logic behind why you feel the things you do and it doesn’t make you unusual or bad. Understand that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
Try not to suppress feelings but rather address them, even if they are negative. This may sound silly but it’s extremely important! If you can recognize that you’re feeling an emotional state then you will be better able to control it.
Remember, ignoring your emotions DOES NOT stop them from controlling you. Plus, if you don’t acknowledge them then they will likely build up until you explode.
Unfortunately, you may likely blow up at someone you’re not even truly angry with. So, just let yourself feel and acknowledge negative emotions.
2.Discover what triggers your emotions
By being aware of what triggers your emotion, you can monitor when these reactions occur and try to deal with them proactively.
Take note while you are feeling strong emotions and try to remember what was happening right before. Knowing your triggers can help you stop a toxic emotional episode in its tracks.
“Negative emotions are a call to action. They are natures preferred agent to inspire change.”― Mark Manson
3.Take action to release negative emotions
Exercise can help make you feel better because it releases endorphins in the brain, regulating emotions and behavior.
As such, exercise is one of the best ways to release stress and negative energy and will help you calm down from a negative emotional state.
Another idea is to occupy your mind with a book or a favorite TV show, in order to stimulate positive thoughts.
4.Talk it out
Your friends are there for positive support, advice and direction. Some of their words might make you feel better if they encourage and comfort you.
When you feel an emotion is about to overcome you, ask a friend to help. It’s easy to get confused. But, talking it out will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
5.See the big picture
Focus your attention on the positive aspects of life, such as love and family. Picture yourself in 10 years time and how happy you might be then. By imagining yourself at your best, you can feel better about whatever situation you are currently experiencing.
6.Get some fresh air
When you find yourself in an emotional situation it’s good to go out for some fresh air or even take a walk to physically escape any negativity surrounding you.
This way your mind will calm down and the negative emotion will decrease over time.
7.Think rationally to control negative emotions
This is a tip that can help no matter what kind of negative emotions you are feeling. Just try to think rationally about your feelings and see if there is a logical explanation for what you are experiencing right now.
If the emotion is triggered by something that happened in the past, recognize it and work on finding ways of letting it go.
I know, controlling negative emotions is much easier said than done but if you just try you will feel much better.
8.Look at the situation from a different perspective
The way we tend to assess a situation is not always the correct one. So, if you find yourself in an emotional situation try to look at it from another perspective and maybe this will help you calm down and think rationally about it.
What this really means is looking at the situation from an objective perspective, not a subjective one.
9.Tell yourself: “I’m strong”
Just like many of us, you might find yourself in a place where you can’t deal with your emotions and this will overwhelm you.
In fact, when you feel out of control, it tends to leave you weak and helpless. Tell yourself that you are strong and powerful enough to cope with negative feelings and if needed ask for help from someone who cares about you.
By doing this you’ll trick your mind into thinking you’re stronger than you really are and this helps you control your emotions.
You can be strong, all you have to do is want it and work on it. Affirmations are powerful!
“Cultivate love within you and all your negative emotions will soon disappear.”― Sri Avinash Do
10.Take deep breaths
Yes, it may sound trivial but deep breathing really helps your body relax. In fact, deep breathing is one of the best coping mechanisms for calming down from an emotional state.
When you feel stressed your breathing becomes shallow which causes you to not get enough oxygen. By taking deep breaths, you are able to regulate your heartrate and calm down.
Progressive muscle relaxation exercises can be very effective at reducing stress and anxiety. They work by making you focus on tensing and relaxing muscle groups one by one, causing them to become more relaxed overall.
It’s really simple but it can have amazing benefits. Essentially, if your body is physically relaxed, you won’t be able to feel anxious.
11.Make sure you get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the most important factors in our overall health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep can cause extreme mood swings, make you stressed and anxious.
Actually, if you are lacking sleep then you won’t be able to cope and control negative emotions effectively.
12.Eat on a regular schedule
Let’s fact it. Not eating for long periods of time can make even the most stable person become moody and irritable.
13.Meditate daily to control negative feelings
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and relax, which can be highly beneficial for controlling negative emotions.
14.Avoid substances that may make your emotions worse
Excess caffeine, alcohol and some other substances can make your feelings worse so try to avoid taking them particularly you’re trying to control negative emotions.
15.Prepare for the worst
If you know there is a big event coming up that will probably be an emotional trigger for you, start mentally preparing yourself now.
Write a list of different ways you can cope with negative emotions. When you are feeling that way again, read over your list and choose an option to help you feel better.
“Negative emotional states are a breeding ground for mistakes.” ― Sam Owen
16.Eliminate unnecessary stress
If you start to feel burdened by stress, take a step back and ask yourself if there is anything you can do right now to lessen the amount of stressors in your life.
17.Give yourself time to recover
Don’t try to rush the recovery process as this will only make it worse and controlling negative emotions may end up taking even longer. If you are experiencing a lot of negative emotions, then just give yourself some time before trying to do anything.
18.Write down your feelings
Sometimes by writing down your feelings you can get it out of your system and start thinking positively again.
Journaling helps clear our heads from all those turbulent feelings that we have been experiencing. In fact, it can be very therapeutic to sit down and write about your thoughts.
19.Have a positive attitude
Sometimes we create our own stress by having a negative attitude towards things. If you can just let go of the little things and look on the positive side then it won’t seem so bad anymore.
According to research, reappraisal of emotions that are positive increased self-esteem, positive feelings and adjustment whereas suppression of positive emotions increased negative emotions (Nezlek & Kuppens, 2008).
20.Listen to music
Music can change your state of mind instantly. If you are feeling angry then listening to some calm, soothing music can make us feel better instantly. But, try different types of music to see what’s best for helping you control your emotions.
21.Delay acting when you’re upset
Try and wait at least 30 minutes before you act when you’re in the middle of a strong emotion. If it’s too late, try and sleep on what has happened and think about it rationally and calmly later.
It’s very easy to make a permanent decision based on the fact that we are feeling angry or sad. But try and calm down before you do anything. Sometimes those feelings might not be as warranted as you initially thought.
Additionally, rushing often makes you feel more stressed than ever. However, in some instances don’t have to do everything immediately or rush into a decision. Try and take your time and it will all feel a lot better afterwards.
“Overthinking arises when you unconsciously provoke negative emotions and thoughts and avoid positive emotions and thoughts.” ― Amit Ray
22.Be kind to yourself
Being hard on yourself will only make things worse, so be kind to yourself if you mess up or things go wrong. It’s not the end of the world!
Remember that emotions are temporary and will pass with time or by taking steps to actively control them.
23.Seek professional help
Seeking professional help from a doctor or counsellor can be extremely useful when thinking about controlling negative emotions.
In fact, being unable to control your emotions may actually be a sign of an underlying health issue including mood and anxiety disorders.
Health consequences of negative emotions
Having negative emotions is an expected, common response to certain events. As such, it’s important for us to feel these emotions so that we can avoid potentially harmful situations in the future.
In fact, when we experience severe or constant negative feelings, they tend to have an adverse effect on our health.
Here are some of the problems you may face if you don’t learn how to control negative emotions:
- Chronic diseases
- Lack of sleep
- Relationship problems
- Memory problems
- Loss of interest
- Decreased productivity
1.Chronic diseases is an indirect consequence of negative emotions
Negative emotions, particularly if intense and prolonged, can promote stress and affect our immune system. As such, they may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
2.Negative emotions directly affects sleep
When we get too stressed or angry, we tend to find it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. This lack of sleep not only affects our health and productivity but will likely make it even more challenging to control negative emotions.
3.Negative emotions may cause anxiety
Negative emotions may cause you to feel anxious. Ironically, being anxious usually means that you can’t control your negative emotions very well. This will overall make you feel worse about yourself and the situation you’re in.
4.Negative emotions can affect your relationships
When you have too much negative emotions, it can come out as irritability, impatience, rage or violence. This can put a strain on your relationship with other people and even cause breakdowns.
5. Memory problems
Negative emotions can mess up our memory as well. It’s been shown that being constantly stressed, angry or sad will affect the brain’s ability to function properly.
6.Negative emotions may lead to loss of interest
When you’re constantly experiencing and focusing on negative feelings, it’s only natural that you will start to lose interest in your favorite hobbies and activities because they just don’t seem as fun anymore.
7.Negative emotions can affect productivity
Constant negative emotions can cause you to feel very sad and demotivated which may affect your ability to carry out your daily activities.
“Depression, anger, and sadness are states of mind, and so are happiness, peace, and contentment. You can choose to be in any of these states because it's your mind.” ― Maddy Malhotra
Final words on controlling negative emotions
Negative emotions are nothing new to us. They can be triggered by anything, from a fight with your spouse to the latest headlines on the news.
We all experience them and they’re an inevitable part of life that we must learn to control.
By following the advice above you will be able to control your emotions better.
Of course these tips won’t solve all your problems, but they are a good starting point to help you find out what’s the best approach in every situation.
In your opinion, which of these tips would be most beneficial for controlling negative emotions? Let me know in the comments below.
The physical symptoms of high stress levels
For some people, stress is just a minor inconvenience that they face every once in a while. However, for many others it’s an unending nightmare that never seems to go away.
In fact, many people don’t realize that even though they may not be feeling all the symptoms of chronic stress right now, it’s still taking a toll on your body.
And in the long run, chronic stress can lead to serious health problems. The good news is that there are simple ways you can learn to manage and control stress.
What causes stress in the workplace
One of the main reasons people feel stressed at work is because they don’t have enough time to do everything that’s expected of them during their shift.
This leaves them feeling overwhelmed, tired and burnt out. Workplace burnout can cause all sorts of symptoms including mood swings, headaches, irritability and even depression.
Nezlek JB, Kuppens P. Regulating positive and negative emotions in daily life. J Pers. 2008 Jun;76(3):561-80.
Parrott, W. G. (2002). The functional utility of negative emotions. In L. F. Barrett & P. Salovey (Eds.), The wisdom in feeling: Psychological processes in emotional intelligence (pp. 341–359). The Guilford Press.