Negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, and anger are natural and adaptive to aid in our survival.

However there are many times when these emotions get the best of us and seem to cause more problems as opposed to enhancing survival.

The key is to distinguish between productive and counterproductive emotions. When we are experiencing overwhelming guilt and shame, or when anger is leading to resentful aggression are times when emotions get the best of us.

Negative emotions can overtake us and really skew our perception of the world. One reason is because of the negativity bias. Negative emotions have a longer shelf life and hold a more enduring impact on mood than do positive emotions. Simply put, bad is stronger than good when it comes to emotions.

Though fortunately, on the same ticket is a concept called positivity offset. Basically, positive emotional appraisal is more common that negative. People tend to rate neutral situations as more positive than negative, and express their daily life to be at least mildly good.

If you tend to have a negative attitude and outlook a good place to start experiencing greater positivity is learning to neutralize negative emotions.

Here are some tips to overcome the negative emotions in your life.

Overcome negative thinking

We all have an inner-dialogue and thoughts running through our heads that aren’t always easy to recognize. Sometimes our thinking is directed by our inner-critic who can say some pretty harsh things.

On the bright side we can learn to recognize the many irrational and unhealthy thoughts we tell ourselves, begin changing them, and use more positive statements in their place. Learning to change a negative inner dialogue is a fundamental way change how we feel.

Break worry patterns

I have always had some obsessive and perfectionist tendencies, which always lead to much worry and anxiety. Now I am able realize that so much of what I worry about never happens and is simply my imagination at work. A major part of the reason people are depressed and mentally ill is that they ruminate on bothersome and troubling thoughts leading to a perpetual sense of doom and gloom.

Learn to break worry patterns by asking yourself, “Will worrying about this help me?” The answer is often no.

Ask, “How is worrying about this making me feel?” and “What can I do to have more control in this situation?”

Decrease stress

Stress is one of the most subtly harmful emotional states to experience. Some stress is good and offers motivation and alertness, but often, people experience chronic stress from consistently worrying and fretting about countless life concerns.

Recognize what stress symptoms you have. How do you know when you’re stressed? What happens physically, emotionally, and mentally. When you notice you’re getting stressed use breathing techniques to relax, calm, and stay mindful about the situation.

Deal with negative people

There will always be conflicting personalities and difficult people in life. Recognize how much of an impact the immediate environment and people we spend time with impact our emotions and mood. No matter how well we regulate our emotions, there is going to be a time when someone pushes our hot button.

Learn to not things personally and be empathetic. Know that this person is probably having a tough day and is upset.

Hopefully by gaining more self-awareness and working with your environment it will be much easier to regulate negative emotions, and overtime begin to experience more positive emotions.

Photo credit: Dan Queiroz

 


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    Last reviewed: 20 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). How to Overcome Negativity Bias. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/03/how-to-overcome-negativity-bias/

 

 

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