When emotions tie you in knots, there are bound to be negative effects. It can be tough to know how to overcome these powerful emotions and get balance back.
Here are some tips for managing difficult emotions and regaining equilibrium.
Anger is one of the most powerful emotions and potentially the most self-destructive one. Whether you have mismanaged your feelings of anger or simply don’t recognize the signs that anger is taking over, you can learn how to be more proactive in dealing with anger and its aftermath.
It’s important to learn how to recognize when you are angry. For example, when you feel like throwing something against the wall or you blurt out angry words to others, you’re angry. Another sign of anger is when you feel choked and something is about to erupt inside.
You might have dealt with anger in the past by denying it, rationalizing that what’s going on is something other than anger. The problem with denying and rationalizing this powerful emotion is that it tends to drive those angry feelings deeper. There’s a strong likelihood they’ll resurface later, probably at the most inopportune moment or when least expected.
What do you do when you find yourself getting angry or suddenly realize that you are filled with anger? Are you able to own that anger? Do you have successful coping methods to deal with it? Or do you just try to ride it out until the anger subsides?
Common signs that you are becoming angry or are, in fact, already angry include:
- Rattling off words rapid-fire
- Making sarcastic or biting comments
- Experiencing a growing list of various pains: stomach, back, neck and head
- Thinking violent thoughts
- Feeling the need to physically leave a room or get away from others so that anger doesn’t erupt in a physical altercation
Ask yourself how you currently deal with angry feelings. Do you isolate yourself so that anger doesn’t jeopardize relationships, your job, or other situations? Do you engage in other types of compulsive behavior to help mitigate anger, such as drinking too much or using drugs?
Next, think about what precipitates the anger. Who were you with when you became angry? What else was going on with you at the time? Were you exhausted, overstressed, just got some bad news, jealous, lonely, feeling ill, hungry or scared? By pinpointing those situations, you will be better able to deal with the emotion of anger.
Remember that you decide how you will behave. By weighing and balancing one behavior choice over another, you should be able to make the right decision. Use reason and be calm. Try anger management techniques. If there is another person that you can talk to about your feelings, do so, including a professional counselor if needed.
Many people confuse being alone with loneliness. They are not the same. You can be alone by choice and perfectly content to be that way and you can feel lonely even in the presence of others. Being alone is a fact. Being lonely is an emotion you feel.
What are the dangers of loneliness? Beyond the obvious negative effect of keeping you away from interacting with others, loneliness tends to keep you focused on all the negatives in your life. All the bad things that have happened or may yet happen diverts your attention from taking steps toward any goals you may have.
When you experience loneliness, being with other people is probably the last thing you want to do. But that is exactly what you should do. Visit close friends or spend some time with loved ones and family members.
Recognize that it may take time to erase feelings of loneliness. By being active and surrounding yourself with others, you’ll be taking constructive steps to deal with loneliness so that it doesn’t derail your life.
Fear is another powerful and potentially paralyzing emotion. Being afraid to take action is no way to live. Not only does fear prevent you from going ahead with action plans in pursuit of particular goals, it has a negative cumulative effect. Fear will overcome you if you let it. But most fear involves things that have not happened yet or may never happen.
As with anger, the key steps to overcoming fear are to recognize it, identify the signs, and figure out what causes it. Then decide how you will act when you are afraid. Determine the best strategies to use. Vary and modify them as circumstances and situations demand. A technique you used in the past may work well, or it may need revision if it doesn’t work now. Be flexible so that you can adapt and create new coping strategies.
We all have something in their past that we wish we’d never done. The intense feelings of guilt over certain actions or behavior can weigh heavily and cause serious disruption to productive living. While it is normal to feel remorse for actions that have brought pain and harm to others, guilt should never be allowed to proceed unmanaged.
What can you do to overcome guilt? As in recovery from substance abuse, the important steps to take include acknowledging the wrongs and beginning to make amends.
If guilt is overwhelming, talk with a therapist. Don’t use guilt as an excuse to drink or use drugs or some other unhealthy coping behavior. If you are in recovery, have an in-depth discussion with your sponsor. He or she likely will have some helpful suggestions for making amends and not feeling so guilty all the time. Getting over guilt requires courage to face what you’ve done and the willingness and determination to make amends as appropriate.
Shame keeps you from getting the most out of life. It often results in fear, an inability to form close relationships, and an unwillingness to seek help. If you feel shame, you may be unable to enjoy whatever small successes you achieve. Learning how to overcome shame may require help from a therapist or talking with a trusted friend, loved ones and family members.
The key step to getting past shame is to build or rebuild your self-esteem. When you begin to feel better about yourself, the shame you once felt will begin to disappear. Mindful meditation and keeping a journal also may help.
Recognize that you are not your failures. Just because you’ve had setbacks doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. Work on valuing yourself more highly and recognize that this may take some time, but the effort will pay off.