Our lives are emotional roller coasters,sometimes full of ecstatic moments of excitement and joy and at other times filled with endless valleys of mind numbing sadness. Some of these emotions tend to stay and disturb our minds and moods and control our daily lives, even to the extent of interfering with our well-being and happiness.
When the negative emotions overwhelm, we need some extra effort to let go of these painful emotions. Most of us have a tendency towards a particular negative emotion that stays.
Some people are prone to feelings of depression naturally, while others may have a lot of anger, some might feel disturbed by fear and others might get caught up in a spiral of overwhelming anxiety.
If you can identify the emotion that has a strong effect on your psyche and which is causing you a lot of grief in your daily life, you can start working on these emotions and dealing with it in a powerful manner.
Here are a few different ways to deal with negative emotions, you can use a combination of these methods in varying ways and intensity depending upon the depth of your emotions.
1.) Observing the emotion – letting go through mindfulness
If you have been practicing Mindfulness or self awareness this technique can work wonders for you, Mindfulness needs to be used in order to notice the subtle rising of the emotion in your mind or body.
The faster you notice the emotion, the better. Physically, it is more effective if you can notice the emotion once it is in stomach area (usually at the beginning ) instead of once it is in the throat area, (prompting you to start screaming in anger uncontrollably). For example.
By being very aware of the emotion and looking at it with an equanimous state of mind you can control the emotion from growing and taking control of yourself. It is not an easy method and needs some practice. But once you get the knack of this, it can be the most powerful ally on your side.
IMP: Try not to change the emotion and don’t make it bigger or smaller. It is what it is, and if you notice the emotion getting bigger, that’s ok, don’t stop it. If it gets smaller thats ok too. Don’t put a label on the emotion, merely observe with an equanimous, non-judgemental state of mind.
2.) Realising the nature of the emotion and the mind – letting go of it through understanding
This is a very analytical way of dealing with your emotion, but very useful once you have understood the mechanism at a certain fundamental level.
What helps particularly is that fact that you are diving into the nature of the mind instead of the emotion itself which means that you are in a way diverting your attention away from the emotion and towards the source of pain and discomfort.
So if you emotion is very overwhelming then go for this option instead of observing the emotion (1). When analysing the mind, realise that the mind is always changing and nothing remains permanent. Realise that the emotion actually is a creation of the mind and it is a product of yourself and not yourself.
So realize “I am having an emotion that I have labeled angry”, instead of ‘I am angry’. This helps with dis-identifying with the emotion and can help you not be so deeply disturbed by it.
Think of your emotions as clouds obscuring a blue sky. And imagine the clouds simply passing by and simultaneously let your thoughts gently float away. (as they must naturally)
Realise you are not your emotion and do not act on the emotion. Remember the times that you didn’t have the emotion so understand it is merely a temporart ‘cloud’ and also remember that soon again you will be free of this particular emotion.
3.) Opposite thinking – letting go through changing the focus of your attention
If both the above described methods don’t work then try this one. It is a very effective method of, temporarily, getting rid of destructive emotions. I recommend doing this when the emotion is too strong and gets the best of you. This method involves recognizing your emotion that is causing your immense pain and making an effort to develop the opposite emotion.
So if you are feeling very angry do a meditation on love – for example, by thinking of your very best friend or someone that you have a lot of positive feelings towards, and realise/remember all that he/she did for you.
Afterwards wish him or her all the best back, and if possible extend that love from there to all the people around you that are not necessarily friends and even extend it to people that you would consider ‘enemies’.
This method works because of the simple fact that your mind cannot hold two contradictory emotions at the same time.
If you feel very depressed think of all the people in the world that are doing worse then you, all the people living on the street without money and food, all the people that do not have the possibility to study yoga or mediation or who would gladly give their right arm to just have a roof over their heads or a bowl of rice for their loved ones.
The ones that do not have access to internet or the safety of civilisation to read this, etc. and feel gratitude towards your circumstances however depressing they might be.
And develop compassion towards them, develop maybe the slightest feeling that you could help them with all the gifts at your disposal – and maybe just maybe that thought might pull you out of your own depressed feelings….