Dealing with Negative Emotions

Delaing with Negative Emotions

Dealing with Negative Emotions

By Dr Mona Moussa PhD - LifeWorks Trainer

The Challenges of Negative Emotions

As you navigate through the journey of your life, you might face countless challenges and difficulties which often bring about negative emotions. Pain, distress, guilt, and worry are only a few of the emotions which you might experience.

Your first reaction might be to push that feeling away because of the feeling of discomfort that it creates. The difficulty however is that while avoiding negative emotions may be rewarding in the short term by bringing in relief, negative emotions often tend to resurface in different ways when pushed back.

Pushing away negative emotions could result in:

  • Avoidance patterns.
  • As you start to avoid your negative emotions, you may begin to start avoiding situations and people which could trigger the negative emotions. This in turn could develop into a vicious cycle of avoidance, robbing you of the opportunity to gain new experiences and develop your coping skills.

  • Hypervigilance.
  • You may start to dread the possibility of the negative emotion arising again with its discomfort and pain and become hypervigilant about any changes in your sensations and feelings. This could also result in catastrophic thinking whereby you will come to fear the possibility of a negative emotion arising and react to this fear accordingly even if doesn’t occur in reality.

  • More intense and overpowering negative feelings.
  • For example, you may feel angry and snap at others who have nothing to do with the source of your anger or you may feel irritable at minor hassles which did not inconvenience you in the past

  • Physical symptoms.
  • These could be in the form of a weakened immune system and a higher frequency of getting the flu for example, or eczema or a hive outbreak signaling your body’s difficulty in dealing with the stress of the repressed negative emotions.

    Dealing with negative emotions

    Turning Towards your Negative Emotions and Not Away

    While negative emotions are difficult to manage, turning away from these will only perpetuate these for longer and exacerbate your difficulties, while turning towards them will result in inner peace and growth.

    You can turn towards your negative emotions by adopting the following mindfulness skills:

  • Stopping and focusing on the negative emotion.
  • As you feel the surge of a negative emotion, take a step back and observe what is going on. Adopt the curious attitude of a scientist, observing the emotion as it is, looking at its intensity, its depth, and identifying the physical sensation of the emotion and where it is located in your body.

    Accepting the negative emotion. As you observe the emotion and identify what it is, accept the feeling for what it is without judgment, without wishing for it to be different, without trying to push it away, and without reacting to it.

  • Letting go.
  • As you accept the negative emotion try to refrain from identifying the reasons behind your negative emotions as this will only perpetuate the vicious cycle of negativity. Instead, try to let go, to just let the negative emotions be, as they are, without any judgment. As you embrace the negative emotions, these will go away and lose their destructive power.

  • Breathe through the negative emotion.
  • As you practice deep breathing and direct your attention and focus on the negative emotion, you will be able to breathe through the negative emotion, experience the feeling of being in a soft and open space, and create space between you and the negative emotion. This will allow you to recognize that you are not your negative emotions, that you are not your anger, or worry, or guilt, but are instead separate for these.

  • Recognizing that emotions are only temporary.
  • As you create the space between you and the negative emotion through your present awareness and deep breathing, you will come to recognise that emotions are fleeting. They come and go, and will not stay permanently.

    While a natural human reaction is usually to turn away from negative emotions and push these back, turning towards these, observing them curiously, and accepting them as they are without any judgment, will often result in inner peace and a feeling of quiet contentedness.

    References

    A New Earth, by Eckart Tolle (2005)

    The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckart Tolle (1997)

    Workshop on Mindfulness presented by Helen Williams (2015) at LifeWorks Dubai

    About the Author

    Dr Mona Moussa, PhD

    Personal Development Trainer at LifeWorks

    Mona has a PhD, and a Masters in Counselling Psychology. Mona speaks Arabic and has counselled in Lebanon, Australia, and Qatar. Her cross-cultural experience and deep knowledge of the Middle-Eastern culture allows her to provide a comprehensive approach to dealing with difficulties and challenges. Mona is passionate about reaching out to others to help them grow and reach their fullest potential.

    Mona’s work at LifeWorks involves helping others find back their sense of meaning and purpose in life, manage negative emotions and thoughts, reconnect with one’s self, focus on the present moment, and achieve inner calm. This can be done through group training workshops, or individually tailored workshops on a one-on-one basis.


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