There are all manner of experiences that you can go through in the course of one day. Some of these may be deeply enjoyable, like waking up to a happy and healthy family. Others may be unpleasant, like being caught in bad traffic and getting to work late. Other experiences, like losing a loved one, may be quite painful and generate negative emotions.

Whatever emotions you experience in a day, having a healthy emotional life means possessing the capacity to handle a variety of emotions well. This is sometimes easier said than done, especially with emotions that some may consider negative.

Are there such things as negative emotions?

There are some emotions that you will gravitate toward, such as joy, anticipation, or love. These emotions make you feel good, they are associated with the things that you like and that you generally want more of in your life. This may be family dinners, a fantastic movie, a great sports game, time with friends around the barbecue or at the beach, or a beautiful sunset or a challenging hiking trail.

Meanwhile, there are other emotions, such as anger, fear, resentment, loneliness, guilt, sadness, helplessness, embarrassment, shame, or inadequacy. These feelings are often attached to experiences that most people would term as unpleasant or unwelcome. Such experiences include the loss of a loved one, failing to accomplish a cherished goal, experiencing a bad breakup, or not getting a job for which you were eager.

These emotions are often termed ‘negative’ because they are attached to unpleasant experiences. It is natural for people to gravitate toward what makes them feel good, and to avoid what brings pain. This is useful as a survival mechanism, but taken to its extreme, it can result in emotional avoidance and not dealing with certain experiences, relationships, or situations because of the ‘negative’ emotions that it generates.

Perhaps one of the mental and emotional shifts that can help when dealing with emotions is to think of them as neither good nor bad. Emotions are. They simply tell us what we are experiencing, and report to us if we have any unmet needs that need to be addressed. Emotions are part of how God created us and approaching them as negative or positive may create unnecessary barriers to appreciating their place in your life.

Dealing effectively with negative emotions

People do not gravitate toward what is painful, nor do they want to endure what they do not have to. In a healthy situation, we understand that we will go through hard things, and while they are not necessarily welcome, they can be endured, and we can even flourish through persevering in hardship (James 1:2-4).

The emotions you experience at such times are not to be despised because they perform an important function. To deal effectively with ‘negative’ emotions, it is important to understand that all emotions have a role to play in alerting you to where you are. Fear, anger, helplessness, and loneliness all alert you to your situation and needs that are not being met. Embrace these emotions, recognizing the role they play in your life.

It is also important to consider that there is not a necessary connection between certain actions and particular emotions. For example, because of life experience, one might associate anger with verbal or physical violence. However, there is such a thing as healthy anger, which expresses itself in an assertive but respectful way, and which does not cause harm to others.

There are healthy and unhealthy expressions of emotions, both the emotions that are considered positive as well as the negative ones. Parsing the difference between the emotion and the action taken in response will help you appreciate the function of an emotion in itself. It is thus important to learn how to express all your emotions in a healthy manner that meets your needs well without causing harm to you or other people.

Another way to deal effectively with your emotions is to understand your triggers. Since each person is different in what causes certain emotional responses, it is important to recognize your patterns.

If, for instance, you know that time is an important boundary for you, and people being late bothers you, then there are few steps you can take. First, alert the people in your life about this boundary. Secondly, prepare yourself in advance for how to react calmly in the event someone is late.

Part of this work of understanding your own emotions, their triggers, and healthy ways to respond, can be done alongside a professional. If you struggle to deal with difficult emotions and would rather avoid them or pretend they do not exist, you should talk to a counselor.

Reaching out for help

A counselor can help you process your emotions. They can empower you with the tools you need to manage and express your emotions in a healthy way, This, in turn, protects and nurtures your relationships.

If negative emotions are something you struggle with, reach out to our offices today. We will gladly connect you to a trained Christian counselor who will journey with you and help you cope when you are overwhelmed with negative emotions. They will help you create healthy patterns in your life.

“Stressed”, Courtesy of Alex Green,, CC0 License; “Disturbed”, Courtesy of Victoria Romulo,, Unsplash+ License; “Sad”, Courtesy of Ron Lach,, CC0 License


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