For years, I couldn’t get over the hurt that lived inside me as a consequence of all the injustices I’d felt. But one day I realized I couldn’t keep living that way. My burden held me back from living the life I wanted. I couldn’t enjoy the present moment.
So recently, I tried to mitigate the pain I was experiencing. I learned to become more adept at moderating my negative emotions. And as an INFP personality type and a highly sensitive person, I had strong emotions. Sometimes, given the circumstances, I couldn’t get rid of the negative people in my life—but at least I would no longer be easily hurt by them. I’ve also learned to be more compassionate toward myself, because much of the emotional pain I experienced had been self-imposed.
Below are some tips which helped me handle my negative emotions.
1. Create a filter.
Realize that you are the ultimate gatekeeper of your emotions. You can choose not to let certain things upset you. As the saying goes, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Being happy does not mean to live in the absence of pain but to enjoy life in spite of it. When it comes to dealing with negative emotions that stem from others, sometimes the trick is to not take things personally.
In fact, one of my least pleasant job experiences, door-to-door-sales, taught me to filter some painful encounters I had. Sometimes I got yelled at and even pushed by people who were annoyed by my sales pitch. My usual self would have cried, but eventually I learned that their reactions probably weren’t personal–they were not saying no to me, but to the service.
I find this skill applies just as well when dealing with people who you’re more familiar with. When people cannot cope with their negative emotions, often times, they let them out on others. Knowing this has helped me filter negative emotions that have been projected on me.
2. Have an emotional checklist.
If your negative emotions are bothering you, it helps to go through a checklist. Take a deep breath and try to answer the following questions:
- What am I feeling and what is causing it?
- Is there a way to resolve the situation? Sometimes communicating your feelings is a good solution.
- If not, ask yourself, “Is the problem really a problem in the grand scheme of things?”
As a highly sensitive person, I feel all kinds of emotions throughout the day. Sometimes I find myself feeling upset by situations that are really non-issues. Going through an emotional checklist has really been helpful in keeping me intact.
3. Find a creative outlet.
The thing with feelings is they cannot be contained. They need to be released in some way. When verbal communication has failed, turn to other areas where your emotions can manifest, such as through the arts, music, or sports.
4. Embrace the universe for what it is.
Negative feelings may often arise from disappointments—whether it’s with a specific individual, people in general, or the world. Simply acknowledging the imperfections of the world, accepting that reality does not always align with our ideals, and appreciating what’s good in life (in spite of everything else), can help dissolve certain negative feelings. This also ties in to the first tip that we can create a filter for our emotions.
5. Let go of the past.
Realize that you are not bound by your past and that you are free. What has happened to you before does not have to dictate how you see your life as of this moment. What helped me let go of my past was acknowledging its negative effect on my present experience.
6. Be kind to yourself.
Finally, don’t be so hard on yourself. Let yourself know that it’s okay to have negative emotions–it’s all part of the human experience. It helps us learn and grow. The goal is not to dispel these feelings entirely, but to learn how to moderate and understand them. In doing so, we may become more adept at navigating through our emotional whirlwind.