Social ostracism and discrimination, from anti-gay discrimination to simply being a little too introverted to fit into a high school or office environment, can cause a tremendous amount of emotional pain. While most emotions come and go, ongoing emotional stress can lead to chronic mood disorders, such as clinical depression or bipolar disorders.
Here are three healthier ways to manage your emotional pain rather than suppressing it or succumbing to its destructive influence on your life.
If you’ve had negative emotions for a long time, then you may no longer be able to manage your moods.
Your emotions control everything about you—how you think and behave. If, for instance, you feel sad all the time, then everything you see and experience contributes to your melancholy.
You may unintentionally do and say things that never lift your mood. You may also see the world around you as depressing. For instance, when driving through Los Angeles, your attention is only drawn to noticing the destitute and homeless people because you can only focus on what is not working within you and the world around you.
If you can’t shake off your depression, then you need the help of a counselor or therapist, someone professionally trained to help people break out of chronic negative emotions. Therapy can give you new insights and perspectives, offering you invaluable ways to restore your emotional health.
Chronic negative emotions arise because of past trauma. But your past does not have to define you. If, say, you’re a veteran or first responder who has turned to drugs or alcohol to numb the symptoms of your post-traumatic-stress-disorder, an organization like Desert Hope can provide psychological support to help you rebuild your life.
Start Your Own Healing Journey
Of course, not everyone needs therapy. You might have enough objectivity about your own emotions before starting your own healing journey.
Practice increasing your self-awareness by noticing what events trigger you and by taking full responsibility for your emotions, which means not blaming other people for how you feel and accepting all your emotions as a natural expression of your own nature.
Often awareness about your own emotions is enough to help you become better at managing your emotions.
Replace Negative Thoughts & Feelings With Constructive Action
Here are some examples of how to express your emotions or change them without repressing or suppressing them:
- If you feel sad after watching a movie, allow yourself to cry.
- If you feel frustrated and angry after a stressful day at work, learn how to change your mood when you get home by doing something constructive and fun, like pursuing a hobby.
- If you feel negative about your life, perhaps lethargic and bored and tired, then go to the gym and get some healthy exercise. This will get your blood flowing and release endorphins.
Managing Vs. Suppressing Emotions
There is an enormous difference between managing your emotions and trying to suppress them.
Unfortunately, most people default to suppressing their negative emotions because they feel so uncomfortable. While this might make the emotions temporarily disappear, they will reappear again, perhaps even more strongly and more uncomfortable than before. Over time, ignoring your emotions can even cause physical health issues.
If you’re overwhelmed by your own emotions and don’t know how to handle them, make an appointment with a therapist. And if you’re not overwhelmed by your emotions but still have plenty of negative feelings about many things, you can start an emotional healing journey by increasing your self-awareness and replacing cynical attitudes and dysfunctional behaviors with a more accepting and tolerant attitude. Finally, you can also start focusing on other things when you start feeling negative, such as getting more exercise to shake off feelings of anxiety or depression.