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How to Deal With Negative Emotions Responsibly

Implementing these four simple techniques for managing negative emotions will have a huge effect on your personal health and happiness.
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Human beings are incredibly emotional creatures. While it's impossible to deny or ignore this basic fact of what it means to be human, you can learn how to confront your emotions with wisdom and maturity. For personal and professional relationships to flourish, negative emotions should be handled carefully, so that a solid foundation of mutual trust and respect can be built. So how exactly do you responsibly deal with your negative emotions?

1. Look Honestly at Yourself
Justifying or rationalizing negative emotions won't serve you well. While it may be difficult to do in the heat of the moment, you need to look at how you are reacting to a situation with total honesty. Typically, people are unable to acknowledge that their behavior was improper. They would rather justify their anger, fear, hatred, pride, stubbornness, and resentment than acknowledge that it does not serve them or others. Step back from this stubborn desire to be right, and notice how your emotional responses are affecting those around you.

2. Communicate Constructively
The expression of negative emotions is the hallmark of the inability to communicate maturely. If events occur that trigger your negative emotions, you need to reflect, ponder, and explore what is at the root of that outburst. If another person's behavior was inappropriate, you need to find a way to communicate that to them in a constructive manner. Dumping on other people is destructive.

You could say that self-honesty is about communicating with yourself, and the next step is being able to say what needs to be said to others. If you can do that, you gain tremendous respect. Just to acknowledge, "Hey, I was out of balance the other day," goes a long way. Maybe you could throw a "sorry" in at the end of that, or not. It doesn't have to be long, drawn out, melodramatic, and emotional. A simple acknowledgement is usually quite sufficient and deeply appreciated.

3. Find a Vent
Stuffing your emotions is no way to deal with them. You need to respect your physiology. If you feel like exploding or crumbling, then you may well need to do that. You just need to find channels to do it properly. This will look different for different people. Some people may need to just take a walk or a shower, perhaps get a good night's sleep, or exercise to blow off steam. You just need to find what works for you.

A word of caution, though: don't overindulge. It's one thing to let it out. It's another thing to try to put out the fire by fanning the flame. Excessive venting (catharsis) feeds negative emotions. Talking through an issue with others can be helpful, but it can easily lead to gossip, which is destructive.

A very powerful technique is to just lie down, close your eyes, and allow your awareness to feel into your body. You may feel like thrashing, you may feel a tightness in your chest, or a headache. Just be with it. If it needs to unravel through movement or sound, so be it. But oftentimes, just allowing yourself to lie there and feel it is quite sufficient. This is, incidentally, a very effective technique to get to sleep at night. You don't need to necessarily name it, just feel it.

4. Practice Self-Care
Oftentimes negative emotions are the byproduct of not taking care of your body. It is as if negative energy builds up in your heart, your mind, and physiology over time. When that's the case, it comes out eventually. With proper self-care, your world view can take on a whole new quality. Self-care can include a regular massage, exercise, proper diet, and proper meditation. It is amazing how little exercise is required to make a big difference. Even 15 or 20 minutes a few times a week in the gym can do the trick. Even a pair of light dumbbells at home can be quite sufficient.

Implementing these four simple techniques for managing negative emotions will have a huge effect on your personal health and happiness. Allowing negative emotions to dictate your actions can have disastrous consequences, in how you feel and how you interact with those around you on a daily basis. Investing in your emotional well-being is like having a savings account that accrues over time. While we may not be able to retire our negative emotions, we can learn to address them with wisdom and maturity by remembering these four points.