Stressed about everyday worries and problems and discouraged by obstacles that life puts before us, we often become overwhelmed by negative emotions, such as depression, anger, anxiety or fear. Eventually, we’ve start giving into those feelings without believing we can change our adverse situations. We focus solely on the negative, which in return reinforces our negative attitudes and opinions. Breaking this vicious circle isn’t easy, but it is possible, and all it takes is your willingness to do so. Once you’ve set your mind on changing your life, you’ve made a first step towards self-improvement. The rest of your life-changing journey entails persistence and an appropriate approach to eliminating negative emotions.
Live in the Present
A major source of negative emotions and dissatisfaction is a human tendency to reanalyse past moments over and over again or think too much about what lies ahead. Living your life wondering what could have been, regretting the actions and decisions you once made or the ones you didn’t and holding on to your memories will only lead to depression, dissatisfaction or anger. On the flip side, there are those who worry too much about what the future holds in store for them, earning enough money, finding a good job after college or about any future event that is still unknown to us. And it’s completely normal to fear the unknown. Leaving the past behind and forgetting about the future requires a lot of mental strength, but once you find a way to do so, you’ll be able to truly experience what’s happening in the present. The paths we have taken have shaped us and even negative past events have played an important role in our lives. Therefore, instead of obsessing about what you could have done differently, focus on what you can do now. Otherwise your life will pass without you even noticing it. As Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher once said: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are happy, you are living in the present.”
Live in the Present
The Power of Acknowledgement and Acceptance
We cannot run from ourselves, our emotions and thoughts – even if we try to, they will quickly catch up with us. Denying the existence of our negative emotions and thoughts will take us nowhere. People who live in denial can’t get better until they recognise that there’s a problem. We can easily distract ourselves with numerous activities, such as watching TV, going out or reading a book. However, we will eventually run out of distractions, and there’s nothing worse than all of your negative thoughts and emotions striking you at once. Suppressing your emotions will only result in a delayed reaction. Instead, you should acknowledge the existence of your negative feelings, try to understand them, find their root and accept them. You can even try communicating with yourself and analysing your thought process. This way, you can understand why you feel the way you do, find out what caused it and try to find a solution. If you accept negative emotions as a part of you, you will eventually stop attaching significance to them and they will slowly fade away.
From Releasing Negativity to Accepting Happiness
When feeling depressed, anxious or angry, many individuals either try to suppress those feelings or they repeat certain behavioural patterns detrimental to their mental and physical health. Some choose to retreat from the rest of the world and contemplate over their dissatisfactions, while others start up conflicts or reach out to harmful substances, such as alcohol or drugs in order to feel better. Although this might distract you for a while or numb the pain, it’s only a temporary “solution”. The influence of these substances will pass, but your negative emotions will still be there. Instead, you should find a constructive way to get rid of the negativity. By finding an outlet for your negative feelings, you will be able to get rid of negative energy and focus on performing a certain task, while the intensity of your feelings will slowly subdue. For example, you can write about how you feel – it can be a diary or a letter and you can even burn the paper after you’ve finished. Whether you decide to paint, compose or write, you will have an opportunity to express your emotions. Once you verbalise your feelings, it’s easier to understand, analyse and release them. You can take up a hobby, or go running when you feel angry and you’ll quickly start feeling better. Moreover, you’ll have the opportunity to develop new skills and find your passion, which will eventually lead towards positivity and self-acceptance.
Nurture Your Body to Help Your Mind
Our minds and bodies are connected, and in order for us to feel happy and fulfilled, we also need to be healthy and satisfied with the way we look. It’s not uncommon for our mental condition to reflect onto our bodies. When you feel depressed, you can often experience headaches, back pain and other health problems. Similarly, when you’re tired, sick and sleep-deprived, you start feeling agitated, stressed and negative. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance that you try to get your body and mind in balance. You simply cannot be happy without previously satisfying your basic human needs. Emotional balance and satisfaction can be also met through exercise and travel. If you exercise regularly, you’ll be in a better shape which will make you like your body more, while simultaneously getting rid of negative emotions, which will reflect onto your mental state. Travelling can also improve the quality of your life and help you be more positive. This way, you can enrich your life, meet different cultures and people and gain various new perspectives. Just imagine travelling somewhere you’ve never been to before, to a place you’ve never even heard of, for example the distant and exotic city of Noumea. There’s nothing more soothing than the sound of waves and the feeling of sand between your toes. Being in an unfamiliar environment can help you distance yourself from your own feelings and see them in a different light. Changing your surroundings can help you change yourself.
Giving in to negative emotions is easy, but do you really want to spend your life dissatisfied and unhappy? Eliminating those feelings requires willingness and patience, but once you’ve found your inner strength to fight, the rest of the battle will be much easier.