3 Ways to Process Negative Emotions
Welcome to my 11-part series of How to Transform Your Life where I share my favorite tools and resources that I implemented and improved my life with. Today is the fourth transformational tip on processing negative emotions. Enjoy!
Unresolved inner conflicts impact our health, career, and relationships. This robs us of enjoying our lives. If you are triggered, agitated, or apathetic, and depressed it could be from holding onto unprocessed painful experiences. This prolonged suffering is reflected in the body as explained by Bessel van der Kolk in the book, The Body Keeps the Score.
I realized I was an emotional hoarder of wounds after my body went into sudden cardiac arrest from buried away resentments and disappointments from decades before. There are five major wounds and fears: abandonment, betrayal, humiliation, injustice, and rejection. Not knowing how to process pain, I told myself to “get over it.” or denied being upset, or minimized my experience by saying it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t know there were methods to release it. Doesn’t time heal? When a similar situation arose it triggered me to believe another negative situation reminiscent of the past would occur and my body would have a visceral reaction.
Studies have shown we do not emotionally develop beyond the age of unresolved conflicts. Mark Oliver, explains in the book The Four Intelligences most people in the United States don’t emotionally mature past the age of eight. This explains why a grown adult can go into a fit and act childlike.
In nature, when an animal is in a dangerous and stressful state, its heart races, cortisol, adrenalin, and norepinephrine flood the body. Once out of danger, the animal has the capacity to return back to homeostasis within ninety seconds. Dr. Joe Dispenza states humans have the same capacity. When we hold onto the stress long after the experience has occurred it is possible we are addicted to those hormonal states. The good news is addiction can be overcome by processing negative emotions as a daily practice.
Imagine the light feeling of prioritizing emotional well-being by clearing out negative experiences. Do this in a safe quiet space, when alone and uninterrupted, between thirty and ninety minutes. The three great resources listed below help process negative emotions.
Emotional Map from Making Love Work by Barbara De’Angelis
This method includes writing or speaking out loud and expressing emotions in the following six steps. Each level breaks down the negative charge and leads into the next level where all emotions are resolved.
- Anger, resentment, and blame
- Hurt, sadness, and disappointment
- Fears, insecurities, and wounds
- Regrets, understanding, and responsibility
- Wishes, intentions, and solutions
- Love, appreciation, and forgiveness
The Work by Byron Katie
The first step of this process is to fill out a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet where you answer six questions about the triggering experience. Then there are four questions to reflect on and then a turnaround. Byron Katie hosts a weekly podcast, At Home with Byron Katie demonstrating this powerful and transformative process.
A Hawaiian spiritual practice used to clean energy by reciting four sentences. This method is popularized by the story of Dr. Hew Len, a clinical psychologist who worked with the developmentally disabled and the criminally mentally ill and their families. He didn’t treat the patients instead he applied the following steps towards himself stating that when the data is clear within it ceases to be expressed in those around you. This method was so radical that the patients healed and the mental institution was closed.
- I am sorry.
- Please forgive me.
- Thank you.
- I love you.
The process is complete when you feel lighter, more loving, and at peace with the past. The inner conflict is resolved and all that is left is a sense of gratitude. There is power in seeing things anew, gaining insights, and inspiring a change in responses and behaviors.
Everyone deserves to experience a rewarding and fulfilling life. Take the time to clean up and process emotional wounds. It may be exhausting as memories surface to grieve, but the body will heal and so will your emotional resilience.Read More