While reading the classic ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ which I will elaborate on in another blog, I realized how negative emotions can be bad for our mental health. As the book was all about how negative emotions can pull one down, I knew I had to write on this topic first.
Negative emotions are short-term reactions to generally normal events that happen in our lives. These emotions could also develop from other less talked about issues like broken dreams, difficult childhood, abusive relationships, poor upbringing, bad work culture, negative home environment, etc. Negative emotions are natural but they can prove to be harmful depending on the way we decide to handle them.
Anger, Anxiety, Annoyance, Boredom, Contempt, Disgust, Disappointment, Depression, Despair, Doubt, Embarrassment, Envy, Emotional insecurity, Fear, Frustration, Guilt, Hostility, Hate, Hurt, Jealousy, Loneliness, Pride, Shame, Sadness, Upset.
If poorly managed, ANGER is said to have the WORST impact on our mental health. Anger can give birth to other negative emotions like guilt, pride, hate, disgust, contempt, hostility, etc. It can also have a negative effect on the people around you, your relationships and your life decisions.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Denial. Substance use. Bullying. Withdrawal. Self-harm. Choosing to deal with negative emotions in above mentioned manners may only lead to more problems in the long run.
Let’s look at it with an example: Smoking is something that I detest but most of the people I love, SMOKE (rolling eyes emoji needed here)! I get hurt and angry depending on my relationship with them. I got upset even when I found out that Shah Rukh Khan smokes. Yeah! I know you’re rolling your eyes now! But I did. And it still hurts every time I see a person I like, smoking. But if I brood over my negative emotions (hurt and anger) and try to change the person in vain or do things to teach them a lesson, it will only disappoint or frustrate me and eventually strain my relationship with them, won’t it?
At the top of my list, I would say GOSSIP is one of the main actions that can give rise to various negative emotions like envy, jealousy, doubt, etc. BULLYING or GASLIGHTING are other actions that allow the victims to harbour feelings like annoyance, embarrassment, emotional insecurity, helplessness, etc. Can you see the vicious circle here?
Photo by Yan Krukau
I used to be an extremely emotional person. If a friend wouldn’t speak to me for no fault of mine, I’d get sad. If people behaved differently, I’d find myself confused, depressed and let down. I would let myself think about it all the time. Negative emotions surround us with negativity. They eventually create a bubble around us where we may find ourselves withdrawn, disliked, overly conscious, etc. This in turn tends to diminish our self-confidence, self-esteem and general outlook on life.
Negative emotions, like sadness, shame, boredom, loneliness, etc., can easily kill our zest to live, if we allow them to affect us. Also, negative feelings like anxiety, depression, fear, etc. create stress which is said to upset our hormonal balance, the happiness chemical in our brain and our immune system. Stress can also worsen conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma, gastrointestinal issues, etc. Chronic stress and other illnesses may also lead to a decreased lifespan.
Negative emotions are like a contagious disease. If we don’t cure it on time, it will damage our mind, body and soul. An example: An acquaintance fostered all the possible negative emotions like hatred, jealousy, envy, loneliness, sadness, depression, hostility, contempt, and more. Due to this, not only did she manage to spread a negative aura around her, many of us did not even like the way we would act around her. We would try countering her negative vibe with some negative action. We would try to avoid certain things which would eventually annoy her even more. We did not understand why we behaved that way because we knew, for sure, that we were not that type. But then, by the time we matured into normal human beings and understood negative emotions more closely, she left the neighbourhood due to chronic illnesses.
Negative emotions are natural but it depends on us how we choose to express them. Here are some ways we can deal with our negative emotions without letting them affect us or our mental health.
Firstly, we need to accept that the feelings that we have are negative and need to be handled with care. We need to be mindful of what we are experiencing at that moment and ascertain that only we can do something about it. Negative emotions need to be dealt with the right way. But first, we need to feel it and accept that we are feeling it.
The most important thing is to breathe, relax and de-stress while trying not to instantly react to every feeling you feel. Try sleeping, reading or talking to a sensible friend or expert. Yoga is an activity that helps many relax.
Exercising can help deal with strong negative emotions. Regular running, swimming, walking, yoga and meditation are some of the activities that are said to help with negative emotions like irritation and anger.
The best thing to do while you’re relaxing or exercising is to understand why you are undergoing these emotions. Could it be stress, annoying people around you, work deadlines, in-laws, demanding kids, etc.? Try and find the root cause of your negative emotion.
Solving doesn’t only mean solving a problem that is stressing you out. Here we are also trying to find a way to not encourage our negative feelings due to the stress. Going backward and trying to process things before I felt the negative emotions helped me understand myself better. It helped me maturely deal with my emotions. This helped me handle myself in the right way if I ever felt that negative emotion again. I found that the best solution to discourage negative emotions is to stop overthinking. For example: I try to ignore and not overthink when my loved ones smoke.
I have experienced ALL the negative emotions mentioned above. And I could not handle them well. It was only after I experienced PPD, and thought that giving birth meant my life was coming to an end, was when I began trying to do things right, for myself and my mental health. I knocked some sense into my head and told myself that only I can control my negative emotions; NO ONE ELSE. Only I can let myself be sane; despite the people and circumstances around me.
Now, I don’t encourage my negative emotions anymore. I feel good because instead of complaining and sulking, I can help others come out of their negative bubbles, too. But then, of course, you can only help those who are willing to help themselves.
To conclude, I have to say that I’m not emotionless. I do have feelings, and as a mom FEAR is something that remains constant. But I do try my best not to let my negative emotions get the better of me. I try to control them as best I can for internal peace.
How have you been managing your negative emotions lately?
Feature photo by Liza Summer
This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.