How to Cope with Overwhelming and Negative Emotions

“Ready or not, here I come!”  I think of this exclamation made during the popular childhood game of hide-and-go-seek and how some adults still make this exclamation when they are about to face something new.  On the surface, it appears that some people are more optimistic during periods of change, while others express their struggle.  In reality, I believe that everyone finds change difficult, because people don’t like feeling uncomfortable.

This past week I started my new job and the reality began to hit me that I now live in a new state.  On Tuesday I sat in a room of strangers.  I left lunch early, feeling exhausted by the constant small chat, to isolate myself so I could check my email and complete tasks on my to-do list.  My reaction to feeling uncomfortable socializing with strangers was to bring myself comfort with something familiar to me.  On Wednesday I drove home in tears.  Everyone at my new job has been extremely welcoming to me; nothing bad happened.  I was simply overwhelmed and felt lonely.  I felt far from the old job that I knew and that made me homesick.  I began to miss my family, friends, and the place I still call home.  

As I acknowledged my feelings, I had an internal dialogue: Okay, you’re feeling really homesick right now.  So what can you do about that?  You can call a friend who might understand how you’re feeling or you can go for a run when you get home.  Running makes you feel good and you’ll feel an appreciation for the physical place you’re living now because you’ll enjoy running a new route.  So I got home and ran outside.  After my run, I felt much better.    

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions.  Instead of trying to push them away, sometimes we need to work on simply accepting them.  If you struggle with accepting overwhelming and negative emotions, I highly recommend that you try a yoga class or guided meditation.  This past Friday morning I went to an excellent hot yoga class.  The instructor began class by asking us to acknowledge what was on our mind in that moment before giving ourselves permission to stop focusing on that during the duration of the yoga class.  At the end of class, she told us to think about what was on our mind at the beginning of class and whether or not we wanted to leave it behind or bring it back with us as we left class.  I’m finding that I’m able to cope with overwhelming and negative emotions better when I accept them, not dwell on them or push them aside.  There’s something really powerful in simply acknowledging how you feel.

I acknowledge that change is difficult and there will be moments of discomfort during the next several weeks as I transition to a new job in a new place.  We may never feel ready for changes in life, but we must accept that change is inevitable.  I’m going to embrace the now, acknowledging the negative emotions along with enjoying the positive ones!  

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready.  I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready.  There is only now.”  – Hugh Laurie


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