Emotions are a normal part of life. Everyone feels sadness or joy, anxiety or excitement. But most people struggle with unhealthy emotions, like anger and resentment, which can have a negative impact on your life and relationships. If you struggle with processing your emotions in healthy ways, you might experience negative thoughts as well as feelings of anxiety, stress, or sadness. You could also feel anger and resentment over past experiences. These types of emotions are referred to as unprocessed emotions because they’re locked away inside you without any outlet. This leads to emotional distress and many other symptoms.
So how do you deal with unprocessed emotions?
It’s important to understand how your emotions work and the different ways in which you can process unprocessed emotions in a healthy way that brings peace back into your life.
Here are some helpful tips on how to turn unprocessed negative emotions into productive ones that help you move forward positively:
Try activities that help you process your emotions
One way to process unprocessed emotions is through activities that help you understand yourself better and learn how to deal with challenging emotions. For example, journaling can be helpful because it helps you reflect on your life and put difficult situations in perspective. Some other activities that can help you process your emotions are:
- Spending time outdoors
- Breathing exercises
- Talking to a therapist or counselor
Related: Why Self Care Isn't Selfish
Talk to people who are trustworthy and supportive
It’s important to talk with people who are trustworthy and supportive. Reach out to friends, family members, clergy or counsellors or seek professional help. Talk about the feelings that you have without putting blame on anyone else for your emotions. It’s important to know that it's not always easy to remove negative emotions from your life. But taking time to process them and releasing them is a healthy way of moving forward in life.
Don't Dwell on the Past
When you dwell on the past, your thoughts become negative. And when your thoughts are negative, it can lead to behaviors that are destructive in your life and relationships.
For example, if you think about the last time you were rejected by someone, your thoughts might be filled with regret and anger. This often leads to not being able to move forward with other relationships. Instead of dwelling on the past, focus on the present moment. When you're able to focus on what's happening at this moment, it helps you come up with ways that will help you improve your life and relationships. Instead of focusing on how things used to be--something that only causes more negativity--focusing on how things are now will help you feel better about where you're heading.
Engage in Spiritual Practices
Spiritual practice can help you process your emotions in healthy ways. Spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, and ritual are ways to engage in spiritual activities that can help you move past your troubles or negative thoughts. Meditation and prayer are great ways to connect with a higher power or with the universe.
Here’s how they work: Meditation works better when it's set up as a formal practice that involves creating a sacred space and giving yourself time to focus on your thoughts and feelings. Prayer is a way of communicating with someone who you believe can help you when you're having a difficult time or feeling hopeless. It’s also important to avoid making unkind judgments during prayer because it could make the situation worse (e.g., praying for forgiveness without taking responsibility for hurting someone). Ritual helps you connect to something bigger than yourself and put things into perspective by connecting with something greater than yourself (e.g., celebrating life through food).
Change your mindset to help you process new emotions
The first step in processing your emotions is changing your mindset. This means being aware of the thoughts and feelings that you have when experiencing an unprocessed emotion. Your thoughts and feelings are just as important to process as the emotion itself. If you can learn to notice your thoughts and feelings, then you can begin to change them into a more positive perspective on life.
For example, if you’re feeling anger towards someone, take time to process that emotion by thinking about the situation instead of getting caught up in the anger. Think about what prompted your anger in the first place and how that person might be feeling too. Once you realize this, it will be easier for you to make a distanced decision about what to do next from a rational standpoint rather than from a reactive standpoint.
If you are struggling to process your emotions in healthy, productive ways, you may want to try these ideas.