The Montfort Group

How To Process Negative Emotions

Research shows how happy you are depends on your ability to process negative emotions. Learning to accept rather than fight your feelings is the key to handling them better.

Why you benefit from acceptance

Resistance takes a ton of effort, causes stress, and worsens anxiety. When you push away negative feelings, you stop your psyche trying to communicate an important message! Your brain wants you to recognize something is wrong and make it right – so if you don’t acknowledge and accept your emotions, they grab your attention by growing larger.

Your emotions are manageable

Most of your life, you might have waged war with unwanted feelings, causing them to grow. Here’s the positive news – your feelings won’t enlarge when you acknowledge them and you’ll learn something that might amaze you: when you don’t wrestle with your emotions, their power actually diminishes.

Acknowledge negative emotions

To accept your emotions, let them rise. At first, it may scare you to let unwanted feelings show themselves. But, experiment. Once you understand it’s not as difficult as you thought, the next time around will be easier.

When negativity pops up, pause and greet it. Say “I hear you.” Acknowledge your feeling. Then sit with it, noticing nothing terrible happens to you.

Learn from your feelings

Ask your intuitive self why the emotion appeared. Look for causes within you rather than in your surroundings, and you’ll gain insights. If you’re upset after your partner snaps at you, for example, consider why you responded negatively.

You could have reacted differently. You might have considered what made your partner irritable, or accepted the eruption as a passing mood and carried on with your day. There are always alternative ways to interpret and handle events, and the way you react reflects your frame of mind.

Decipher the language of emotion

Negative emotions often stem from transference. People unwittingly transfer deep-rooted feelings from the past to new conditions. If your parents separated after an enormous argument, for instance, you might now associate angry people with life-shattering experiences you want to avoid. As a child, you lost the company of one parent and perhaps your home–and so your friends who lived in your old neighborhood. Now, when your partner snaps at you, feelings of dread and fear rise, and you get upset.

Recognize why you experience your emotions and you’ll gain the power of choice. When you understand your emotional language, you can react differently to triggers like your partner’s irritability. Instead of getting upset, you can pause and take deep breaths. Later, when the atmosphere’s calm, you can explain why being around angry people triggers fear.

When you feel negative, trace your emotions to their origins. You’ll forge healthy relationships, and old wounds may even heal. Know, too, that whenever you uncover the root of an emotion, you are closer to coping with their triggers.

Remember to pause and examine your emotions to improve your relationships. You’ll have greater self-understanding and it will get easier to talk about your feelings. As a result, your well-being and happiness will expand.

Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S

Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S

I completed my Masters of Science in Counseling from Southern Methodist University where I specialized in working with individuals, couples, and families. I have extensive experience working within the mental health community facilitating groups, conducting assessments, counseling individuals, and performing crisis intervention. I hold an active License in Professional Counseling and am also a board-approved Counselor Supervisor for the state of Texas.

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