In life, it’s nearly impossible to avoid negative emotions, so it is important that you learn to manage these emotions in a healthy way.
At Arootah, we use the phrase “kill the monster when he’s tiny” to encourage our team members to deal with negative emotions early and efficiently. Otherwise, the tiny monster of negativity becomes a big monster, and it’s even more difficult to deal with a big monster.
Properly managing negative emotions early helps you prevent further negativity in your life.
Why Do People Repress Emotions?
In general, many people in our society tend to repress their negative emotions. Positive psychologists provide several reasons for repression. One of the most common reasons for repressing negative emotions is societal conditioning that says it’s not desirable to experience or express negative emotions.
As children, people may have never learned to process their negative emotions. Parents, teachers, and peers may have told these children to “stop crying” or “just cheer up” or that “everything is fine.” By minimizing negative emotions, these children learn to avoid them altogether.
People may also feel that their negative emotions make others uncomfortable. If they’ve learned that other people do not want to see or hear about the anger, sadness, or frustration they are experiencing, they try to cover these feelings up. This repression can create a culture in which individuals have little practice in regulating their emotions. These individuals fear conflict and have unhealthy coping patterns.
Many people may have no other means of responding to negative feelings than ignoring them and pushing them down. This can lead to some serious consequences, both psychologically and physiologically.
Why Is Ignoring Negative Emotions a Bad Thing?
First, it’s essential to understand that you will have to manage both positive and negative emotions throughout your life. By ignoring negative emotions, you leave yourself vulnerable to several repercussions.
Ignoring negative emotions will negatively impact your personal and professional relationships. Sometimes you will need to learn how to manage negative emotions to defend yourself against mistreatment from others. You may also need to address negative emotions in order to address a misunderstanding or get through a conflict with a coworker.
In life, you will experience conflict in almost all good relationships. If you are unable to address the painful emotions you experience within these conflicts, your relationships will neither grow nor thrive.
Ignoring negative emotions also impacts your physical health. Many people, for example, use alcohol, drugs, or excessive screen time to numb themselves to negative emotions. These prolonged patterns of emotional numbing can be detrimental to your health and can lead to depression, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, heart diseases, and digestion problems.
Fortunately, most people can easily reverse these health impacts if they find healthier coping mechanisms.
Ignoring negative emotions will ultimately lead to further negative feelings. The mind-body connection is powerful enough that ignoring your feelings is just as bad as ignoring your hunger, thirst, or physical pain.
How Can You Combat Negative Emotions?
So how can you make sure that you don’t suffer from your negative emotions more than you have to? The solution is “killing the monster when he is tiny.” The monster is a symbol for your negative feelings; such as anger, frustration, disappointment, offense, etc.
In essence, by killing the monster when he’s tiny, you commit to dealing with your feelings early while they are small, rather than letting them fester and multiply. You should use this tactic to manage both your personal feelings and your feelings of conflict between people. When you take responsibility for managing these emotions early and thoroughly, you won’t suffer more than you have to.
To help you properly deal with negative emotions, here is what you should remember:
- Practice identifying your emotions: Distill how you are feeling into one-word answers (angry, disappointed, sad, etc.). This helps you understand the source of the feelings and create a plan of action around them.
- Journal openly about your experience: Sometimes it’s best to brain-dump all your thoughts onto a page before you try to address them. Journaling can help you think more clearly about what you are experiencing.
- Practice open and healthy communication: If you have to address negative emotions with another person, be sure you don’t let those feelings get the best of you. Understand that the goal of the conversation is for both people to come to an understanding.
- Process feelings with a professional: A coach or therapist will be able to help you process negative emotions productively. They will be able to teach you tools that you can use for the rest of your life.
The Bottom Line
Managing negative emotions early and in a healthy way is essential to prevent further negativity in your life. The good news is that the more you practice processing your negative emotions, the easier it will become. Remember that both negative and positive emotions can help you experience life to the fullest.
How do you deal with negative emotions? What parts of killing the monster are most difficult for you? Let us know in the comments!