How to deal with negative emotions

This is a short ode to the depth, simplicity and love that can arise when we learn how to manage negative emotional states. While negative emotions won’t ever stop arriving in our lives, we can practice shaping our mind into a more adaptable, flexible instrument to apprehend negative states and ultimately transmute them. This practice of dealing with negative emotions steers us in the direction of sustained emotional wellness, and we imprint our success here upon those nearest. So your dedicated personal work is actually helpful to all of us.

What tools can we use to deal with negative emotions? Here you’ll learn and practice a short meditation, followed by a recipe for difficult moments, and some plant wisdom for balancing negative emotions. 

Meditation is a vital practice and is the most important tool for dealing with and transforming negative emotions. As you read these words, begin by taking a few breaths to gather your attention, to return to the subtlest, steady presence within you. 

Each time you notice a breath coming in, welcome a new connection to yourself, a refreshed touchpoint of care for yourself, within yourself. And each time you let the breath go, send a tender offering of your love out into the environment around you. Re-read and repeat this a few times. Your emotional wellness depends upon it; this is how you make art of your attention and change your state. 

As that short burst of meditative clarity becomes more and more familiar, you’ll notice your body is more capable of holding and prioritizing that state. But you’ll still have other times when you’re triggered, when some old pattern reveals itself again in your behavior, unconsciously. 

And when it seems that fleeting feelings of intensity are taking over your heart, may this short chronological recipe of a few short practices help you shift things efficiently.

Smile. In the face of any sadness or anger, practice cracking a tiny smile and breathing until you feel your chemistry shift. Typically takes about ten seconds. 

Give yourself empathy. Whether you’re feeling another’s intensity or your own, take three breaths, maybe even with your hand on your heart; offer yourself the remembrance that you are human. Pause until you feel a change in your state. 

Receive the wisdom of your inner life. Here to strengthen your compassion for yourself, this moment will help you be a better human in all the realms of your life by inviting you to be increasingly more familiar with self-compassion. That compassion is the wisdom of your inner life, the medicine of your intuitive knowing. Your only work now is to receive it. 

Pause and wait. Rather than rushing to fix whatever feels off, have a night’s sleep, sit for meditation again; do anything else. You’ll return to the matter at hand with a bit more clarity. A bit of space and time always helps to soften even the most intense sensations.

Invite the plants. In that pause, invite plant compounds into your limbic brain. When you inhale any essential oil, the area of your brain that holds and manages memories and emotional responses is either stimulated or eased. The limbic system also includes your hypothalamus, in charge of hormone production. With sustained exposure to stress, important bodily functions such as hormone regulation, sleep, body temperature and food consumption can be set off balance; so many of us are managing this now. Every choice you make can impact these many systems of your body, so it’s of use to surround yourself with essential oil compounds that help to downregulate your fight/flight/freeze/fawn responses, and upregulate your rest/digest responses. 

As the oils become a consistent aspect of your daily rituals, your body naturally begins to default to a calmer, more positive, receptive state. When you consciously inhale essential oil compounds, cilia within your nostrils send a signal to your olfactory bulb, which directly shifts your limbic system. For example, the compounds in Wild Orange create more contented, joyful feelings; the compounds in Lavender help your body relax; the compounds in Peppermint or Rosemary stimulate your capacity for focus. In this succinct series of short, free videos on the most basic and most used essential oils for your emotional wellness and overall physical wellness, you’ll learn how to use these oils and several more. 

If it applies, apologize. Acerbic emotional states accrue within us, just like meditative healing states – and those moments become the core of who we are. A thoughtful, well-wrought apology moves our humanity forward and adds a layer of softness to your innermost narrative. Acknowledge what’s happened, no excuses, and own your side. We’re all healing, every single time you manage to accomplish this. 

Do your best to stay in the present moment. “…the desire for certainty can distract our attention and warp our perceptions. Liberated from the need for certainty, and even hope, we can more fully inhabit the present moment. Not knowing rivets our attention on what is happening right now. This present moment is the only time we can act, and the only time we can awaken.” -Joanna Macy, A Wild Love for the World

7 thoughts on “How to deal with negative emotions”

  1. Karen Ananda

    I love thinking of this as a recipe, or even a sequence. Many of us on this spiritual path know intellecctually how important this is, especially for me step 2. I often skip over this right into blame and self criticism. Having a step by step “recipe” gives me a clearer, well thought out pathway.

  2. Wonderfully put Elena. It truly is about taking a step back, away from whatever you face, physically and psychologically, before re-aligning yourself. Separate, smile, breathe and let go.

  3. It’s still hard sometimes to remember these words…
    Thank you for your words And honesty.

  4. Thank goodness for finding this today. I am reminded, when all else seems dark, and anger rising far too easily from places I haven’t finished exploring, that I am not alone, but a work-in-progress amidst a sky full of stars from whom I am lucky enough to reflect. Love you, sister.

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