Dealing with Emotions: Dos and Don’ts

Most of us don’t like dealing with emotions. Some suppress them until they build up into resentments. Others brush them aside and get on with the motions of living. But this denies the most human part of ourselves. How do we deal with emotions effectively?

Dealing with emotions: ‘Don’t’s

1. DON’T suppress emotions

We often deny our unpleasant emotions by keeping busy so that we have no time to think. We fill every free moment with work, social activities, alcohol, food or exercise. These can help buy time for the strong emotions to subside. But eventually we need to be still and deal with those emotions. Learn to sit quietly for half an hour and just experience those emotions. This allows the healing process to begin.

2. DON’T judge your emotions

Our upbringing teaches us that there are ‘wrong’ emotions. These  include envy, jealousy, resentment, anger, and hate. When we feel these emotions therefore, we feel guilty. Instead, accept that emotions are normal. Everybody experiences good and bad feelings. They simply show up in our lives, just as the sun simply shows up. It’s how the world works.

3. DON’T take unnecessary action

When emotions are strong, we cannot think clearly. Hence we make rash decisions. It’s okay to do this, as long as you don’t act on it yet. For example, go ahead and decide not to talk to your neighbour. Just don’t actually march next door and announce this decision to her. It’s much easier to change your mind and ‘un-decide’ when you calm down later, than it is to ‘un-say’ words already said.

4. DON’T vent to anyone who will listen

Some of us are prone to venting, and deal with our emotions by mouthing off about the other person. While venting is helpful, be careful about who you vent to. Confide only in those who love you, will guard your secrets, give you wise counsel. The last thing you need is someone who will fan the flames and make things worse.

5. DON’T blame the other person

This is really hard, especially when we’re convinced that the other person is in the wrong. When we blame someone else, our emotions become hostage to that person’s actions. Our healing then depends on the other person taking action to make amends. When we accept that our emotion is our problem and no one else’s, we regain control and can start to work on those emotions.

Dealing with emotions: ‘Do’s

1. DO talk to a close friend

When we are emotionally upset, we often don’t see clearly. We may blow words and actions out of proportion, refuse to see the good in a person or situation, and convince ourselves that our plight is worse than it actually is. We all have blind spots, and close friends are like mirrors that help us see ourselves and our situation more objectively.

2. DO pour your emotions into a journal

While nothing substitutes a close friend, a journal has its advantages. It will absorb our emotions without getting tired,is there for us any time, and can be referred to in future. Journalling is the fastest way I know to transfer negative emotions out of my system into a safe receptacle. It is also essential for self reflection and improvement.

3. DO give yourself time to heal

Humans have a great capacity to heal ourselves, and stillness and silence are great healers. Just as the physical body needs lots of rest to fight an infection, our emotional self also needs rest to deal with emotions. Nature heals, it just needs time.

4. DO observe each emotion

Try to observe each emotion washing over you as a wave washes over a beach. The wave is not part of the beach, but is separate from it. Strong negative emotions too, are not who we are. Think of them as temporary visitors who come and go. Observing them neutrally will improve your emotional intelligence.

5. DO celebrate after dealing with emotions

Over time you will come to recognize when you have successfully overcome your negative emotions. In my case, I would run everyday to expel negative energy, and I knew I was alright when I didn’t feel the strong urge to go running everyday anymore.

You may experience this point of healing differently. You might suddenly feel goodwill again, or wake up one morning not feeling sad anymore. Celebrate this when it happens. Your brain loves to feel good, and the more you treat yourself after dealing with emotions, the more it will want to do this again.

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4 replies on “Dealing with Emotions: Dos and Don’ts”

Hi Daphne:

I am with the previous poster, have missed your posts.

Your subject is exactly what I need – trying to figure out how to recover from a relationship that did not work & relocate.

Funds are a challenge right now and missing the dog that ran away. But I received confirmation that he is okay and ran to be somewhere that was better for him. I had stayed because I could not leave him behind.

Now that he is gone, it is time for me to do the same. I have come to realize that the man I had hoped would care about me, does not and did not care about the dog. And yes, it is hard not to hurt and mourn over Jeremiah (the dog) but as of yesterday – I know he is okay. LOL, the middle name of an associate’s grandson was Jeremiah. Met him for the first time yesterday and had asked what his name was in an attempt to be friendly. Thank goodness I did this in spite of being depressed since Friday when he ran away. Sylvester, my ex, kept insisting on letting him out unsupervised, knowing he takes off every time. This time he did not return. Well the grandson’s name, what are the chances of this happening one day before the anniversary of my “little” friend leaving. Thank you Jeremiah for letting me know you are okay.


Dear Angela,

So sorry to hear about your recent challenges. I too have a 16 year old dog and I’ve been preparing myself for the day he will leave me. Kudos to you for your strength in acceptance his leaving your life.

Relationships are life’s greatest joys and also life’s greatest miseries, aren’t they? I tell myself that this is how we know we’re still alive – our ability to feel both sorrow and happiness, to hurt as well as to heal.

I’m glad the post helps you, even if in just a small way. Just knowing one person has breathed easier makes the entire effort worthwhile.

I’m rooting for you, Angela.



You’ve always been a wonderful supporter whom I am very grateful for. Yes I was dormant last year and decided that I’ll post a little more this year 🙂

Your perspective is great to read, and I agree completely with what you wrote.

Wishing you a year filled with health and happiness Tamsin!


Hi Daphne

What a treat to log into my Google Reader after some time away from it and see not one, but two posts from you! Totally concur with your thoughts on your first post about New Year’s resolutions – and enjoyed reading this post about the don’ts of emotions – already looking forward to reading the dos! I particularly agree with your last point that emotions are our responsibility, regardless of external circumstances. It’s not in doubt that they’re going to come and we’ll experience them, but our response and reaction and how we do that is completely within our control, even if, as you say, that can be hard at times.

Great to see you back. Hope life’s good with you and that you have a wonderful 2012!

All best wishes for now


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