Tips for taming negative emotions

Jun 8, 2021

Presenter – Dr. Bill Howatt, Jesse Adams


Emotions shape how we show up for ourselves and others. This session covered the importance of self-awareness about the negative emotions that may exist in our conscious and subconscious mind. Negative thoughts can lead to fears which can flood our systems with negative emotions which drive behaviours. If we ignore negative emotions they can cause people more problems, we must learn how to deal with our negative emotions.  The five steps we can take to tame negative emotions includes:


  • Self-awareness: When you notice the fear, name it. As well, observe and journal at the end of each day what triggered negative coping behaviours and emotions. Self-awareness is a powerful self-accountability tool.
  • Body scan: This looks beyond self-awareness. It is about noticing the negative emotions as they come up, what thoughts are happening, and how you feel inside. Taking a moment to notice the emotions can tamper them down. As you notice the emotions, name them (e.g., seems like I am feeling …). Doing this without judgement is a form of self-empathy. This alone may not stop the negative emotions, but you are now awake and not on autopilot.
  • Stick with Plan A: This may sound too simple, but it will start to work. Plan A is what to think about yourself and what you want to feel. When Plan B turns on, because your subconscious brain is not yet with the program, once you start to feel the negative emotions, do all you can to avoid taking the bait and say to yourself, “Thanks, but I rather Plan A.”
  • Replays create new opportunities: When the above does not work, replay in your mind how you could have handled the situation differently, this time mentally rehearsing the desired outcome and with the associated positive feelings. Knowing you cannot change what happened and there will be a next time, it is helpful to practice.
  • Recognize progress, not perfection: The chances the old programming will go away overnight do not exist, but over the next 200 days you will be in a better place than today. You will be tested and only time will let you know if you have gotten rid of the old program. Self-compassion, patience, and being realistic set the stage for building new habits, as they take time and intention to install. Slips and failure are part of learning.