Harness the power behind your negative emotions and use it for good
Jealousy, anger, fear… it’s all too easy to avoid negative emotions. But the truth is unpleasant feelings inevitably have a key role to play in health and wellbeing.
Finding meaning in your negative experience allows you to move on from it, and actually learn something useful that will help you in the future. But by sweeping it under the rug, the problem becomes a source of shame or guilt that can weigh on your mind and affect your self-esteem.
It may be a cliche, but there is a silver lining in every experience – the secret is to unlock that dormant positivity. So discover the benefits of your bad experience today, by following these tips…
It's not until we lose something that we realise how important it was to us. But instead of dwelling on the loss, use it to motivate yourself to appreciate what you still have. There's nothing more stabilising than a deep, life-affirming gratitude. Why not jot down the things you're grateful for in the Gratitude Diary app. The next time you need a pick-me-up, you can scroll through the list to remind yourself.
We're all familiar with the green-eyed monster, aren't we? But when wallowed in, jealousy can eat away at you. Don't indulge it, simply use the opportunity to find out what you really want. For example, are you actually jealous that your friend has a new job, or do you miss that sense of accomplishment in your own life? Target the issue, and then do something about it.
Negative emotions can actually be a great motivator for creative work, particularly when it allows you to channel those frustrations in to something productive and worthwhile. In fact, a new study from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that adversity encourages creative resilience, making us more motivated to work through a difficult problem than if we tackled it in a happy mood.
One of the great things about a negative experience is that it teaches you to empathise with other people's struggles. Nothing puts you in a better position to give advice and support than having been through the problem yourself. So always take note of the decisions you made to overcome a challenge. After all, you never know when you might be advising a friend or family member going through the same thing.
There might be some truth to the old saying that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. After all, there's nothing like a life-changing event to help you shift your perspective and stop sweating the small stuff. While on the surface this might not seem like a big deal, anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health problem in the UK. Being able to ignore those small, every day annoyances goes a long way to improving your mental wellbeing and enabling you to live a happy, healthier life.
Struggling to see the silver lining in your negative experience? Try using the ancient Buddhist technique of mindfulness to get an objective view of the situation. The next time a strong negative emotion overcomes you, rather than reacting instantly, take a moment to assess it. Take a step back and identify what the feeling is and why you are feeling it. Root the cause of your feelings, and then consider what the next rational response should be.
Find more mindfulness tips here
Negative emotions aren't all bad. In fact, a little bit of pessimism is actually good for us. It stops us from hurtling headlong in to decisions without considering the consequences. It also helps us to deal with the inevitable knock backs in life. So next time a negative emotion overtakes your mind, don't mope... get active. Take what you've learnt from the experience and use it to do better next time.