Most people believe that emotions come from somewhere in the brain or the body and we cannot control them. In my coaching, I come across this misconception with every new client. Usually, they are unhappy with something in their life and come to me because they think they cannot change it on their own. They do not think they can release negative emotions at all. But they can, and so can you.
In general, emotions are not a problem. If they are happy emotions and if we feel good about them, we do not want to change them. But if they are painful and make us uncomfortable, then we want them out of our system, and fast. Feelings manifest into our physical world. If you think of emotions as vibrations, then we feel their vibration in our body as a physical reaction.
When I was young, my younger sister and I were fans of Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life. We borrowed it from the local library and she bought it for me as a birthday gift. In the book, Louise Hay describes the connection between body and mind and explains how every thought, feeling, idea and action has a physical manifestation.
Back then, my main health concern was my voice. I had a polyp on my vocal cord since I was almost five years old. I could not speak without hyperventilating and had recurring throat infections. Sometimes, it was painful for me to talk, not to mention the humiliation of not being able to finish a sentence without losing my voice.
When I read what Louise Hay wrote about problems with the throat, I knew exactly how my thoughts and emotions turned into difficulties with my throat. Some theories claim that all medical and health problems develop from negative emotions. In order to get rid of the medical issues, we need to release negative emotions.
10 Ways to Release Negative Emotions
Here are some tips to release negative emotions, and not to give them any space in your mind:
- First, you must understand that although we call these feelings “negative”, because they make us uncomfortable, they are not necessarily bad for us. Treat your feelings as a compass that is there to protect you. For example, if you think that way about fear, you will stop fighting it and start to use it to your advantage. You will no longer be afraid to be afraid anymore, and it will be easier to manage your fear.
- To change what you are feeling, you have to know what that is. Whenever you feel a negative feeling (any feeling that make you uncomfortable), try to find the thought that goes with it. Be like a detective searching for the thought process associated with your feeling.
- Write down the thought process. What are you thinking? Why are you thinking it? Research shows that keeping a journal is a very effective strategy to release negative emotions. In fact, writing for as little as five minutes per day can do miracles. Writing down slows the thinking process. Negative emotions run so wild so fast, that slowing down just a bit makes a huge change to our internal chaos.
- Search for the place in your body, in which you feel that emotion. For example, when I work with my clients on public speaking, we seek the place in the body where they feel the fear of public speaking. Some say they feel it in the throat, some in the stomach, and feel it in their chest. It is all good. Just find it and touch this place with your hand.
- We direct many negative emotions at ourselves and others using blame. It is important to recognise that since thoughts trigger emotions, we can always take responsibility of our feelings and focus our energy on changing our own thoughts, rather than wasting energy on trying to change other people.
- Switch your focus to things that are good in your life. When feeling bad, search for an opposite feeling and purposefully bring up memories of it. For example, when you feel like a failure, instead of bringing up all your memories of failure, think of all the times you have been successful and the thought of the failure will not seem so devastating anymore.
- Every incident that triggers negative emotions can be a learning opportunity. I say that it can make us bitter or better and I choose better! We can always learn from what happens. If we do, the bad experience benefits us. Always answer the question, “What have I learned from this?” and if you have no answer, ask again until you do.
- Do not bathe in the negative feeling for long and be very careful not to lash out at other people with your negative feelings. Many people think that expressing your negative feelings is a good way to release them. Unfortunately, when we express ourselves (whether positively or negatively), we activate a mechanism in our brain that always justifies the feeling we have. This way, if you express happiness, you justify being happy. If you express anger, you justify being angry. Since expression is important, make sure you do it in the right company and keep it short, so that the justifying mechanism does not kick in.
- When you have a negative emotion, it is always because your expectations of yourself, others, or circumstances are different from what actually happens. Do you know what that means? That your expectations are in conflict with reality. Obviously, reality is what it is, so why do you keep expecting it to be different? If you have a negative emotion due to something that did not fulfil your expectation, then your expectation is the problem. Fortunately, you can do something about that.
- Meditation is a great way to calm the mind. When we meditate, our brains get out of the ‘flight or fight’ mode, which is where we are when we experience negative emotions. You can find many simple mediation techniques and thousands of audio guided meditations on the Internet. Many are very effective and free. No excuses! Meditation is simple and helps release negative emotions, fast.
It is good to understand that fighting the negative emotions only makes us feel bad about feeling bad, and many people need to get over that. Accept that you are human and that having negative feelings is part of life. When they come, you can let them go.