How to manage unwarranted negative emotions

We all get angry, sad, frustrated, or annoyed at times. It’s a perfectly normal response to certain situations. What happens though when the response is unwarranted?


Do you ever find yourself responding automatically to a situation before you’ve really even thought about it? Something happens and you instinctively become angry, or annoyed without really knowing why. Someone else becomes angry or frustrated and you feel fear or hurt. 

Emotions are an essential part of us as individuals and expressing these emotions is fundamental to our well-being. Sometimes though, our negative emotions are unwarranted and, if they pop up frequently, they can get in the way of our happiness. They make responding reasonably to a situation almost impossible, as we become irrational. These can be feelings towards someone else, or ourselves.

So, what triggers these unwanted negative emotions?

When an event occurs, we automatically apply a meaning to it. This happens so fast that we are not even aware of it. The meaning is often based on something which has happened in our lives, either a single significant event or experiences from early childhood. The meaning we give to the event triggers our feelings and emotions, which in turn affect our behaviour. 

How do we prevent these unwanted negative emotions from taking over?

To alter the emotion, we need to change the meaning we have applied to the event. When something happens and you begin to feel a familiar unwarranted emotion, be aware of it and notice what is happening. Ask yourself ‘what am I feeling right now’? ‘What has made me feel like this and what meaning have I given the situation’?

Then ask yourself, ‘how do you know this is true’? ‘Could it have been that...’?

Apply the word ‘maybe’. This slows down our response and allows us to decide how we want to feel about the situation, as it stops us rushing to an opinion. Once we have done this, we can choose a more empowering response. 

Don’t judge yourself based on the feelings you are experiencing, as this can result in getting stuck in an emotional state, or surfacing other emotions, such as guilt or sadness. Accept that it is happening, be aware of it, allow yourself to feel it and then move on. Once the feeling has passed, consider what may have been a more resourceful, or appropriate response, one that would work better the next time something similar happens.

Take ownership for how you are feeling. No one else has ‘made’ you feel the way you are feeling. You have chosen your response based on the meaning you have given the situation. 

So, next time you find yourself being triggered by a situation, be aware that it is happening and ask yourself whether your negative emotions are warranted, or unwarranted. 

I offer a free emotions discovery session, enabling you to discuss the emotional triggers you are experiencing, identify any patterns and decide your next steps. Contact me to book your free emotions discovery session or ask me a question.

Take care.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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