Anxiety and negative emotions are an inescapable part of life. They are the cost of admission to be human. Trying to avoid negative emotions is not the answer, but acceptance is. While it will be very difficult to live a life without stress, anxiety, and frustration, there are definitely ways in which we can learn to live with and manage negative emotions.
My go-to method for dealing with negative emotions is to take them out of my head. I do this by either writing about them or talking about them with somebody else (even writing this blog post is therapeutic for me).
Writing and journaling is a practice that is fairly new to me, I’ve only been doing it for about 3 years now. Of course I’ve always been writing papers for school my whole life and taking notes in class, but I’m talking about writing for ME. Every day, even if it’s just a couple sentences, I will write down my thoughts, goals, habits, dreams, takeaways from my actions or things going on in the world, and more. Many times when I have found myself having anxiety and I can’t pinpoint the cause of that anxiety, I will go and write about it. I will literally put my thoughts on paper. By taking things out of your head and seeing it literally on the table in front of you, you will have more understanding and power over whatever is causing your anxiety. I never do this in a negative or complaining manner, that is key. I will always frame it in a way that affirms this is just part of life. These negative emotions are part of the training camp to become the person I am striving to become. Anxiety isn’t a roadblock, it’s just God’s way of making you tougher. Negative emotions are part of your journey. They build your character.
To sum that up, don’t try to avoid anxiety, it might end up making it worse. It’s like putting all of your old junk under your bed, you don’t see them but they are still there. So don’t try to shove your anxiety under the bed, take them directly on. Analyze why you feel this way and try to get to the root of the problem. Analyze them by taking them out of your head and putting them on paper. Use headings, charts, graphics, illustrations, whatever works for you to organize and analyze your thoughts. This will take you out of your comfort zone, but you will be infinitely grateful in the long run.
One of the things that has helped me the most is socializing my feelings. Honestly I used to be the person who would keep everything inside. Whenever I would experience anxiety, frustration, or negative emotions I would keep those thoughts in my head and I would often find myself overthinking. By keeping those emotions internalized they would boil and marinate and end up holding me back way more than they should.
I am still getting better at it, but by talking about those feelings with someone I trust as soon as possible then I almost immediately squash the problem. By talking to someone, you get those thoughts out of your head. The other person(s) can usually offer a perspective that you didn’t see before. By doing so, you also create a channel of transparency that allows the other person to feel more comfortable to come to YOU when they need it themselves. This transparency of emotions helps strengthen relationships. The longest studies on happiness have revealed that the people who have lived the happiest and healthiest lives attribute that ongoing wellbeing to their relationships with other humans*.
When we experience anxiety, depression, or negative emotions our first reaction is to curl up into our shell like a turtle. But I suggest that you do the opposite. Talk about it. Take actions. Feeling good often takes you out of your comfort zone first. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get and then the more it becomes a habit.
If you think that people will judge you or think you’re weird for talking about your feelings, I guarantee that you are wrong. I think people will respect you more when you show honesty and transparency. If your friends criticize you for expressing your feelings, well then you might need new friends.
Who do you have in your life that you can talk to about your feelings? What family members, friends, co-workers, or teammates do you trust that you can talk to? Reach out to them.
All of this comes down to feeling more collected and in control of your life.
In my personal experience I have found that if you open up to the world, the world will open up to you.
So give it a try, open up to the world.