Negative Emotions: Friends or Foes?

By Dominica

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Last Updated: February 2, 2021

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that feeling negative emotion is not fun.

Whether it’s sadness, grief, anger, fear, disgust, frustration, etc., these emotions can cause you to feel heavy and miserable.

The stark reality is that many people are bound up, twisted up, and marinating in negative emotions.  They might come across as happy, optimistic people while talking to others. You may run into them throughout your day and think, “Hmm. They got it together!”

However, when they get home, the “happy mask” comes off and they lounge around feeling exhausted from the weight of negative emotions.

Perhaps you can relate.

A Glance At Depression Statistics

Do you know that anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications are the most prescribed medications in America? There are over 20 million adults who have been diagnosed as clinically depressed. There are many more who struggle with depression, but never reach out for help.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that that rate of anti-depressant use in the U.S. rose nearly 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. From 2015-2018, around 12 percent of American adults reported being on antidepressants.

That’s a lot of people suffering from negative emotions.

Are Negative Emotions Friend or Foe?

I was tormented for many years with negative emotions. I didn’t know it at the time, but my bout with depression and anxiety stemmed largely from childhood. In fact, that tends to be where many people’s struggles with negative emotions begins.

Sure, I managed to live a decent life, but underneath the surface, I struggled a lot.  I’d gone through many of the same things you’ve probably gone through.

  • Relationship breakup/divorce.
  • Job loss.
  • Loss of loved ones.
  • Financial woes.
  • Plenty more.

But over time, I started to view my emotions differently. As I read book after book on emotional healing and wholeness, I began befriending my emotions.  Rather than continue to repress, stuff, reject, or disconnect from them, I started embracing them.

Little by little, I started learning how to “feel” them without freaking out. Or, taking them out on those around me.

I embarked on an emotional healing journey walking my own unique path, trying various emotional healing modalities.

I’m here to tell you, it has helped me experience fewer negative emotions and more peace and joy.

Core Emotions

What negative emotions do you contend with consistently?

  • Fear?
  • Resentment?
  • Loneliness?
  • Anger?
  • Depression?

First, I want you to know you’re not alone in your particular struggle.  While we may have walked different life paths, I’ve experienced the kind of pain and negative emotions that makes life feel unbearable.

And, I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience that too.

At the same time, I want to encourage you in the way that negative emotions can play an important role in your life.

You see, we all have core emotions, such as fear, excitement, anger, joy, and sadness.

And when those emotions get super intense, our brain and nervous system has specific defenses to protect us. Perhaps you’ve heard of the “fight, flight, freeze” response?

It’s a survival mechanism that helps us as humans survive.

Yes, even intense emotions that can cause our system to feel overwhelmed and fear death.

For example, depression may be a defense mechanism that your nervous system uses as a means of protecting itself.  It “shuts down” or gets stuck in “freeze” mode. This causes you to feel lethargic, spaced out, sad, etc.

But there is good news.

You can begin a journey of befriending negative emotions and allow them to give you messages that can help you heal.

So you can experience less intense negative emotions or keep from getting stuck in them.

We Are Mind, Body, And Spirit

Underneath the painful emotions that we feel, we are already whole.  We are spiritual beings that have come here to “feel, deal, and heal”. We’ve come to sort of forget who we truly are, and then hop on a path to rediscover our true essence.

Negative emotions can be messages that help us get there.

Maybe it’s time to make a decision to start digging through the layers of emotions toward finding emotional freedom.  Maybe it’s time to purposefully excavate the grounds that have become hardened and desolate. Tear down the walls you’ve erected around your heart.

Reconnect with the “you” that you’ve forgotten about over the years; the “you” underneath the “masks”.

There Are Tools For Liberation

I’m on a continual journey to discover and use helpful tools for emotional healing and liberation. There are various modalities. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. Your task is to start walking the path and trying out what resonates with you.

Jim, The Over-Drinker

Take Jim, for example. He’s a great guy in his mid-20’s who drinks a lot.  At first, he drank because that’s what a lot of guys did at his age.  But over time, he drank more and more, oftentimes over-drinking.

I asked him why he drank so much. He said, “I like the way it makes me feel. And, I like the way it makes me NOT feel.”

He was referring to the inner painful emotions he feels daily. Things like anxiety, depression, fear, shame, etc.

My heart went out to him. I encouraged him to reach out for professional help, but he refused. He couldn’t see that the negative emotions he felt are messengers in his body that could indeed be healed if befriended and explored.

All it may take is surrendering to the fact that he can’t do it on his own, walk into a therapist’s office and say something like, “I hate the way I feel.  I drink to cope with these horrible emotions and I want/need help.”

We all need some help sometimes, and my hope is that anyone numbing out, self-medicating, running, drowning in negative emotions, etc. can be courageous enough to take that first step.

You deserve to get emotionally FREE.

In contending with negative emotions like depression, grief, rage, resentment, fear, etc., consider the following emotional healing modalities.

It is time for a transformation.  It is time to walk in wholeness. It is time to feel inner peace.

  • Professional therapy (There are many kinds of therapists and therapies: Trauma, EMDR, CBT, DBT, psychodynamic, group, brainspotting, etc. See what resonates with you.)
  • Support groups
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Body work/Somatic Experiencing
  • Energy therapies/Alternative therapies
  • Spiritual/Religious assistance
  • And many more

Do some research and see what resonates with you.  Take that first step and just keep walking.

Further reading:

It’s Not Always Depression (Super good book)

Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay

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4 comments on “Negative Emotions: Friends or Foes?”

  1. Depressed Emotions
    I call all the things that cause me to think and worry (Depressed Emotions). It's been too much and now you don't know what's good or bad for you and that's sad for how I feel inside. To feel hated by many and loved by most only brings you to protect yourself from everybody. Now I am trying to live, Wow, and that leaves me up even when I am tired. My faith is keeping me here and God is my strength.

  2. Emotions
    I deal with all the core emotions but the biggest emotion I have is my faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I always tend to pull out of my pain or whatever I am going through. Many people have done and are doing some not so nice things to me and I will never spend any of my time trying to get back at them.

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