Estimated Reading Time: 8 MinutesHow To Overcome Negative Emotions & Live An Empowered Life

"Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us more effectively."

Table of Contents

Negative emotions aren’t the run-of-the-mill feelings you brush aside. They silently manipulate your thoughts, decisions, and even the bonds you form with others.


Think of them as the invisible hands guiding the marionette strings of your life’s narrative.


Negative feelings also make it difficult to think and act rationally. They are typically linked to negative situations that you want to avoid, forget, or overcome.


But here’s the kicker: you possess the innate capacity to seize those strings, taking charge of your emotional destiny. Negative emotions might be disempowering at first glance, but they hold the keys to your personal transformation.

They can light your inner fire, moving you toward an empowered and contented life.


Feeling Bad Might Not Be Entirely Bad

Suppressing negative emotions can indeed give rise to a host of psychological challenges. Let’s dissect this truth by examining four compelling reasons:


1. The Paradox of Avoidance

Life is a turbulent journey, and negative emotions are its inevitable passengers. In the quest to dodge these emotional hitchhikers, we often resort to evading the people, places, and situations that trigger them.


Paradoxically, this avoidance strategy, aimed at sidestepping negativity, can lead to a curious outcome: it diminishes our capacity to endure and effectively cope with life’s inevitable hardships.




2. The Perils of Denial

Denial, that age-old defense mechanism, acts as our escape hatch from the harsh reality of negative emotions. It’s a coping strategy, an attempt to shield ourselves from the discomfort of facing unwelcome truths.


We deny the existence of the negative, not out of choice but because confronting it head-on feels akin to diving into a tempestuous sea.


3. The Backfire Effect

Containing our emotions may, surprisingly, prove counterproductive. Research suggests that acknowledging and expressing our anger or sadness is far more effective than suppressing them.


When we bottle up our emotions, especially anger, it’s like burying a time bomb deep within ourselves. This ticking discontent can morph into depression and ignite a cascade of health issues.


4. The Messenger in Disguise

Negative emotions are not merely adversaries to be avoided; they are messengers with valuable insights into our lives. If loneliness and isolation haunt you, these emotions serve as a potent reminder to prioritize your relationships.


An excess of worry, conversely, may signal that you’re juggling more than you can handle. They are the blinking signs on the highway of life, beckoning you to take notice.


So, instead of steering clear of the tempest of negative emotions, let’s unravel the power of emotions and their role in shaping your life.


We’ll begin by examining what are commonly referred to as Significant Emotional Events (SEE) to gain insights into how emotions impact our lives.


Sociologist Morris Massey offers the following definition for SEE:

“An experience that is so mentally arresting that it becomes a catalyst for you to consider, examine, and possibly change your initial values or value system.”


The 3 Major Phases of Your Life

Your values serve as the guiding stars, illuminating the path of your life choices and relationships. They’re the core essence of your being—the invisible ink that writes your story and shapes how the world perceives you.


As Massey astutely observes, values—those profound beliefs—are forged in the crucible of three distinct life phases:


1. Age 0 – 7 (The Imprint Period)

Picture this as the era of unfiltered absorption, akin to a sponge soaking up the world’s teachings. During these formative years, you take everything at face value, especially the wisdom that flows from the lips of your parents. 


It’s the age of innocence and trust, a period where you sculpt the clay of your values with the impressions of your closest guardians.


2. Age 8 – 12 (The Modelling Period)

Here, it’s all about “observational learning.” Your environment becomes a vast classroom, and your peers, teachers, and even the flickering images on your screen become your tutors. 


You observe, emulate, and absorb the behaviors and values of those around you, constructing your identity through a mosaic of influences.


3. Age 13 – 21 (The Socializing Period)

This stage is the battleground where external forces collide with your burgeoning sense of self. Friends, media, technology, and the rhythms of pop culture exert a profound influence.


You gravitate towards those who mirror your values, creating a dynamic tapestry of beliefs that shape your worldview.




Massey’s insight runs deep, for he understands that your beliefs, the bedrock of your values, are the architects of your daily choices and actions. 


They manifest in your communication style, your work ethic, and your ideas, etching themselves into the narrative of your life.


But here’s the twist: unless a Significant Emotional Event (SEE) crashes into your world or you summon the courage to challenge and reshape your beliefs consciously, the status quo remains unaltered.


The Unpredictable Catalyst

SEEs are the wild cards that don’t discriminate based on age, gender, or race. Like an alarm clock, it jolts you out of your slumber and “awakens” your inner giant.




A SEE doesn’t play nice within the confines of your comfort zone. Its impact is so significant that it would spur you to contemplate life and examine your personal values.


Have you ever experienced an emotional event that you found highly impactful in your life? The kind that ushers in a symphony of positive emotions and a profound shift in your psyche?


SEEs, it turns out, have a dual nature. They can manifest as jubilant milestones, like a marriage, the birth of a child, or a job promotion.


Conversely, they can also assume the form of traumatic upheavals—separation, grave illness, job loss, or the loss of a loved one—that rock the very foundations of your existence.


These are the moments when the axis of your thoughts, actions, and emotions tilts dramatically. If you’re unguided or unaware, a SEE can hit you like a ton of bricks.


As Massey astutely observes:

“The common denominator of significant emotional events is a challenge and a disruption to our present behavior patterns and beliefs.”


These are events in your life that have the potential to alter your viewpoint, worldview, and value system. Now that you know this true and well, SEEs are unavoidable and hit you when you least expect them.


Their impact is so seismic that they can push you to scrutinize and potentially reconfigure your values. The undeniable truth is that SEEs are as inevitable as they are unpredictable, catching you off guard when you least expect them.


SEEs are so impactful that they cause a person to question and possibly change their values. The positive ones often serve as catalysts, propelling you toward higher echelons of success and happiness, the fuel for transformative growth.


But what happens when you’re blindsided by the negative ones? How do you navigate those tumultuous waters?


Navigating the Shadowy Seas of Negative Emotions

In the labyrinth of Significant Emotional Events (SEEs), it’s the negative ones that often cast the longest shadows. They arrive with an intensity that can eclipse even your most cherished memories.


Consider an SEE fueled by rage; it has the potential to hijack your thoughts, outshining recollections of past romantic encounters.


It’s a stark reminder of how emotions can carve enduring marks in the depths of your memories, lingering like ghosts in your mental and physical realms. They’re the silent architects of many mental and physical diseases.




Negative SEEs may have stealthily infiltrated your life as far back as childhood, lying dormant like a sleeping dragon. Their effects can permeate every aspect of your life, disrupting your mental, emotional, and physical health.


Beyond simply your health, these suppressed emotions may impede your growth in many other areas as well.


Imagine this scenario: a recent divorce, a SEE that unleashed a maelstrom of negative emotions. These emotions become ensnared within you, silently waiting to sabotage each subsequent romantic endeavor.


With every new relationship, echoes of past betrayals and hurts resurface, silently poisoning your chances at a healthy connection.


Yet here’s the catch: these buried emotions may remain concealed, lurking in the shadows of your subconscious until they suddenly resurface, derailing yet another relationship.


The hurt, the disappointment, the scars—they all fester within, obstructing the path to a normal, fulfilling relationship.


Unlocking Trapped Emotions for A Brighter Future

SEEs are like encrypted memories etched deep within you. To end this vicious life cycle of disastrous relationships, it’s essential to release these trapped negative emotions from your body.




When negative thoughts come crashing into your life, they bring with them a whirlwind of emotions: shock, surprise, fear, and anger.


These feelings etch indelible imprints into the fabric of your memory, manifesting as a rich tapestry of images, sounds, smells, tastes, words, and sensations, all securely stowed away in the vault of your subconscious.


To escape this pattern, embark on a transformative journey. Activate these buried memories and transform their negativity into a force for good.


Transforming Negative Emotions Into Empowering Experiences

When it comes to conquering your negative SEEs, consider these strategies that blend the wisdom of emotional agility, cognitive reframing, and therapeutic insights:


1. Cultivate Emotional Agility

In the realm of emotional mastery, Harvard Medical School psychologist Susan David introduces the concept of “emotional agility.”


In her book Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, she explained that it’s about being less rigid and more flexible with your thoughts and feelings.


She explains that one of the strategies is to be mindful and accepting of your feelings. Do not punish yourself for having those feelings. Instead, approach it with self-compassion.




David’s wisdom emphasizes mindfulness and self-compassion.:

“…choosing how you’ll respond to your emotional warning system, about loosening up, calming down, and living with more intention.”


2. The Power of Cognitive Reframing

Imagine cognitive reframing as your instrument for reshaping reality. It’s the art of shifting your viewpoint to redefine your encounters.


It has the ability to make you perceive a negative event as just a learning experience in your life. Each SEE is a chapter waiting to be rewritten.


You can bring to light the hidden aspects of these events’ ostensibly bad aspects by altering your frame of reference.


Take, for instance, a divorce; it can be reframed as an opportunity for new connections or a valuable lesson in the intricate dance of relationships and life itself.


3. Embracing the Healing Power of Therapy

Sometimes, the journey toward transformation requires a guide. Therapists skilled in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)*, time line therapy, and hypnotherapy offer a unique path.

* NLP is a psychological technique for influencing your brain’s (Neuro) processing of the words you use (Linguistic) and how that impacts your past, present, and future (Programming).

Through their expertise, your subconscious mind learns a new language, one steeped in positive suggestions for change. In therapy, these memories undergo a profound metamorphosis.


They shed their old, negative associations and are imbued with fresh, empowering meanings. Essentially, you get to re-experience these SEEs through a lens of strength and growth.


Embrace The Power Of Emotional Acceptance

In the realm of negative emotions, dwelling excessively can become an all-consuming obsession. However, the path to empowerment lies not in avoidance but in acceptance.


When you open the door to these emotions, their grip on you often weakens. Acceptance isn’t merely a passive surrender; it’s an active engagement.


It lets you understand negative emotions better. With acceptance, you start a journey to reconcile with reality. Instead of fighting these emotions, you can go with the flow.


In life’s complex tapestry, emotions, whether positive or negative, guide us. They keep us in the present and help shape a brighter future. Embrace the ups and downs of emotions; they hold the essence of empowerment.

Bonus Section

Empowering Your Significant Emotional Experiences



Studies have shown that unresolved negative emotions might lead to the development of symptoms and illness in your body.


Here is an exercise I often use in my therapy sessions. This enables you to release unwanted negative emotions from a SEE in your life.


  1. Before you begin, make sure you are seated in a comfortable position. Just settle yourself down and relax. All you have to do is focus on becoming comfortable.


  1. Imagine a straight horizontal line. This imaginary line represents your life. Your past is all the way to the left of the line. And your future is all the way to the right.


As you examine this line, allow yourself to drift back to a time where the SEE happened in your life. How old were you? How did you look back then? What can you see in that past?


  1. Imagine that the “you” in the past is about to go through the SEE. The “you” in the past had no awareness of the event. However, the “you” now (which in this exercise becomes the future “you”) has the wisdom, knowledge, and experience.


Share this experience with the “you” in the past.


  1. Is there anything you would like to tell your younger self about your past experiences?


What knowledge or resources can you share with your younger self? This knowledge can help your younger self make an entirely different decision and create a new “meaning” to that SEE.


  1. Once you have done that, step forward with the younger you. Go through the experience with the knowledge, skill and wisdom you now possess.


Notice how the “you” in the past reacts to the new experience as you bring him or her forward in time. As you change the whole “meaning” of the past experience, look into the future and notice your feelings now.


  1. Thank the “you” in the past for this courage and willingness to go through this experience with you. Step back into the present and be awakened with a feeling of being refreshed and renewed.

DISCLOSURE: In my article, I’ve mentioned a few products and services, all in a valiant attempt to turbocharge your life. Some of them are affiliate links. This is basically my not-so-secret way of saying, “Hey, be a superhero and click on these links.” When you joyfully tap and spend, I’ll be showered with some shiny coins, and the best part? It won’t cost you an extra dime, not even a single chocolate chip. Your kind support through these affiliate escapades ensures I can keep publishing these useful (and did I mention free?) articles for you in the future.

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