We all know the expression, ‘Don’t worry. Be happy.’ Although the idea might be memorable, it’s certainly not the best advice. And yet perhaps someone had, at some stage, told you not to worry at a time when you were at your lowest – when you didn’t feel happy.


Chances are, that expression made you feel worse. That’s when ‘toxic positivity’ occurs. But the truth is, life isn’t sunshine and rainbows.


And by trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, you’re just continuing with the misery. It can make you feel even worse. The good news is, you can work through your feelings without making yourself feel worse.



What can you do to cope with difficult emotions? Try these tips:



1. Uncover what you’re feeling. Stepping back to check in with your mood can provide you with guidance for what’s happening inside. For example, it’s natural to feel upset, sad, or even angry if someone disappoints you.


  • When you begin to feel those things, take note of your emotions. Once you identify your feelings, you can think logically about the situation. Perhaps your friend experienced an emergency and had to cancel plans with you.


  • Analyzing the entire situation like this can help you determine the best way to move forward. You’ll also feel better.



2. Allow yourself to feel it all. The human brain tries to avoid pain – not feel it. That’s why when we experience pain, we tend to numb ourselves with distractions such as eating a tub of ice-cream. But facing your emotions is the only way to work through them.


  • So, next time you begin to experience difficult emotions, don’t rush to ‘fix’ them. Take all the time you need to feel your feelings completely. You can then think through how you can approach the situation more constructively.



3. Work at regulating your feelings, not suppressing them. Instead of avoiding your emotions, work on controlling them when you feel them. For instance, if you feel angry, take a few deep breaths to help calm yourself down.


  • Don’t try to suppress your feelings, bury them, or take action that you’ll later regret. Doing so will only make them feel more substantial. A healthy emotional expression involves finding a balance between suppressing your feelings and letting loose.


  • When you allow yourself to experience your emotions in this balanced way, you’re fully able to express yourself in a healthy way.



4. Don’t blame yourself for not feeling happy all the time. We all have mood swings. That doesn’t mean you’re weak or unsuccessful. What it means is that your emotions are robust and constantly changing.


  • The most optimistic people feel negative emotions sometimes. The ups and downs are what makes us human. Instead of working at eliminating your negative feelings, work at increasing the positive ones.


  • Punishing yourself for every damaging incident won’t help you cultivate more positive emotions.



5. Be realistic but entertain your hopes. Being optimistic about the future does not mean you won’t experience any difficult emotions. We can feel negative about certain aspects of our lives and still be hopeful for the future.


  • For example, you may feel worried that the pandemic is causing so many problems. But you can still believe that things will get better and that life will get better. If there’s one thing that’s constant in life, it’s that it changes.


  • So even when you’re feeling sad or angry, try not to hold on to those negative emotions forever. You’ll only be hurting yourself.



Working through difficult emotions takes time, effort, and patience. It could take you a week or months. Remember, however, that you don’t need perfection to adjust your feelings.


As long as you’re working at it, you’ll slowly see positive changes in your emotional health. And remember, if you need to vent, you can always find a friend, family member, or an organisation who will be there to listen and support you.