Dealing with negative emotions

It is oh so easy to spend our lives being pissed off at the world – at blaming the parking meter man for issuing a parking fine because we parked in a no parking zone; to be frustrated by the r-e-a-l-l-y slow lady in the checkout queue who is unpacking her groceries ever so carefully; to feel annoyed by the Negative Nancy who likes to point out all of the things wrong with our plans to conquer the world.

When we feel frustration arise, when we find ourselves feeling annoyed, or angry or even grumpy and when we are pointing the finger of blame to everyone and everything, it is a sign to sit and have a little chat with yourself. To look in the mirror and say “friend, why are you so annoyed?”

Shit happens in the world and in our lives, and how we chose to deal with it can see our days filled with bright and shinyness or darkness and despair. We can not change or control our external worlds (we can try parking in legitimate parking zones) but we can change our internal world. How we chose to see a situation affects or mood and state of mind, not the little lady at the supermarket.

Here are my top tips for dealing with negative or potentially destructive emotions:

1. Practice mindfulness – notice the frustration arising and simply observe or witness it. This can be pretty difficult in the moment, but the more you practice the quicker you will become at catching yourself in the act.

2. Self enquiry – ask yourself the question “what is really upsetting me here?” You may even like to assess what was the trigger and why this particularly upset you. This comes with a warning though, there is benefit in identifying patterns of fears or particularly vulnerable places that can be linked to our past experiences, however I do caution this is a very easy way to get caught up in story.

3. Put yourself in their shoes – if another person has been the source of your frustration, try seeing the situation from their view. Imagine what they might be going through right now. Perhaps the little lady at the supermarket just lost her husband and is trying to piece her life back together.There is always an alternate reality to the one we perceive.

4.  Practice gratitude – Being grateful for the little things, to see the silver lining in the cloud and to come back to the breath and notice what is true. Be grateful that negative Nancy is voicing her concerns, she is perhaps highlighting your own fears (which is why they cut like a knife). You can use this as a time to reflect on your fears and address them.

5. Move – if anything else, move your body, shift the energy, remove yourself from the situation. When it all gets too much, going for a brisk walk or even taking a shower to shift the feeling can often help create the space you need.

Sometimes in life we go through a rough patch, it may be a day, a week or even a month. During these times it is easy to slip into a funk, to think your entire world sucks and that everything you do turns to shit. Spend some time each day writing down all of the things you are grateful for – even start a journal that is specifically for this purpose. You will be surprised at how many awesome things there are in your life, maybe it is the sun shine, maybe the opportunity to have 1 hour to yourself, perhaps it was to spend some time with loved ones, maybe it was your morning ritual of enjoying a coffee or even the fact you are alive.

Practicing gratitude and reflecting daily on the things you are grateful for will not only help you shift your outlook but it will make you feel humbled and in awe of this big beautiful world. Reminding yourself of the little things (or even the big things) and is a simple tool in appreciating this precious life.

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