Many people feel emotions so intensely that the negative emotions disrupt their lives. They are so depressed, angry, fearful, hurt or guilty that they cannot enjoy their lives and be happy. This is a problem for them, as well as for those with whom they interact.

The challenge is figure out what to do about your emotions. Often this means identifying what you are feeling and what to do about it; other times it means letting go of the negative emotion so that you are able to get the lessons from their life experiences and move on.

Handling negative emotions is a three step process:

1. Identify the emotion.

What are you feeling? Most of us carry emotions in our bodies, and, with practice, you can learn what emotion causes that feeling in the pit of your stomach, or makes your head tingle. The sensations and locations are unique to each individual, and usually to each emotion. It requires you to "tune in" to your insides, paying attention to the sensations you have and determining what the emotion is behind them. This takes practice!

2. Determine the reason for the emotion and its message.

I believe that our emotions evolved as a way to signal us to pay attention to something. Emotions carry with them messages and underscore the learning that we are supposed to get from our experiences.

Whether the emotion is positive or negative, each emotion has a message for you. Often the emotion signals the existence of a situation to which you need to respond in some way.

For example, when you feel anger, the message may be that someone is violating your boundaries--disrespecting you in some way, ignoring what is most important to you. You may need to take action to enforce your boundaries in order for the anger to pass.

Notice that there is no judgment about emotions. The message from the emotion is there, and if heeded, the emotion dissipates. Message received. It is when the message is ignored, however, that problems begin. Like a child having a temper tantrum who is being ignored, the emotion intensifies. It may then begin to cause serious problems such as depression, rage, shame, suicidal urges, anxiety and/or panic.

Heeding the message then may be problematic because of the impact those intensified emotions have on our lives and those around us. Nevertheless, it is never too late.
Ask yourself, "What do I need to pay attention to? What do I need to know or what do I need to do which will allow me to let go of this?"

Paying attention to the message behind the emotion takes practice, but better allows you to live your life the way you were intended to live--full of happiness, joy and peace.

3. Take action.

What do you need to do to heed the message your emotions have brought you? This might mean enforcing your boundaries with someone who takes advantage of you, grieving the loss of someone who has died, or looking at what you need to do to feel safe, for example.

Once you take action about the message, the emotion can dissipate and you'll notice far more of those positive messages.

When you reduce your intensity by paying attention to your negative emotions, figuring out their message and taking action on that message, you will be better able to manage your emotions, and pave the way for being happy.

© 2008 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a psychologist, life coach, trainer and owner of Inner Resource Center, LLC. She has 30 years of experience helping people overcome obstacles, change their lives, and reach goals they had not thought possible using her solution focused approach. She specializes in helping people get unstuck from negative emotions and limiting beliefs that sabotage their happiness. Get additional free tips and challenges for getting unstuck from her Inner Resources report . Or contact her for a free 20 minute consultation at .