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Dealing with negative emotions

A young boy comforting his crying sister. From the Children’s Songbook, page 78, “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus”; watercolor illustration by Phyllis Luch, lds.org. Click on the image to go to the source.

Do you ever feel like crying? I do!

Ever feel mad at a family member? I do!

Ever feel disappointed because of something a child did? Me, too!

I read something recently that inspired me from an article entitled “Emotion and Addiction” about dealing with emotions. The author (Peter L. Howell, Psychologist, LDS Family Services, Melbourne, Australia) suggested that there are at least 8 ways to deal with negative emotions in healthy ways:

  1. Take time for negative feelings;
  2. Find productive ways to express negative feelings;
  3. Reduce self-condemnation;
  4. Identify and correct wrong beliefs;
  5. Seek to solve directly the problems that are causing feelings of distress;
  6. Serve others even while going through personal emotional struggles;
  7. Learn not to get stuck in negative emotions and suffering;
  8. Use the many resources the Church has made available on its various websites (For example, see addictionrecovery.lds.orgprovidentliving.orgovercomingpornography.org).

Feel and observe emotions

I especially was interested in the first suggestion. He wrote,

“Feel them and observe them. Such a process is the enemy of addiction. One cannot learn how to manage feelings without paying some attention to them. Sometimes negative emotions will pass if we simply allow ourselves to observe and experience them.”

This was a new and interesting thought to me! I like this thought: to take time to feel and observe. You do not have to dwell in a place of anger or sorrow, but you can feel, observe, take note, and wonder about it and then let it go.


I remember being in church one Christmas Day when the man who was speaking shared a quote from Charles Dickens. It was an extremely difficult day for me, and I felt very much like crying. His words brought me comfort:

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

Ever since then I have had a particularly soft place in my heart for allowing people room to cry. It can be so therapeutic. I love the song by Hilary Weeks, “Just Let Me Cry.”


Here are posts I’ve written related to negative emotions, crying, depression, and anxiety:

Water your own garden

Jesus wept

What will I do? (anxiety about the future)

So what does it feel like to be depressed?

Sometimes you cry

My Not-So-Fairy Tale Life

Happy Mother’s Day: Let’s just laugh about it

What Richard Paul Evans did to save his marriage

Awesome job, Priests!

Show up at ballet, and the TV cameras are coming

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