Life is not perfect. Events happen that lead to bad feelings. You will have to deal with negative circumstances outside of your control and you may also face negative situations of your own creation. Either way, you will experience bad feelings.
Although you can’t insulate yourself from bad feelings, you do control what strategy you’ll use to deal with them. Depending on your approach, the bad feelings will be either dissipated or prolonged.
You can find the road to recovery or start digging a deeper emotional hole. The bad feelings can be released or you can hold them captive, feeding them and enabling them intensify. Unresolved bad feelings have a tendency to persist and even grow stronger when ignored or buried.
It’s normal to have bad feelings. Your first step is to acknowledge this and recognize when you have them. Once you have identified bad feelings, you need to identify their cause. Without understanding their origin, it’s virtually impossible to deal with them appropriately.
Bad feelings are signals that something is wrong. This is why you need to isolate the root cause before you can formulate an appropriate strategy for addressing them. Fixing a leaky roof is a good analogy for this process. In order to stop the leak you have to locate and repair the hole. You can replace almost the entire roof. But if the spot where water is entering is missed, the leak will continue. This generates additional stress since all of the work you have done has had no effect.
Putting a bucket under the leak addresses the symptom, not the cause. With this strategy, not only do you have to continuously empty the bucket, the water is causing additional structural damage as it finds its way inside. Bad feelings are the symptom that indicates there is a problem. Behavior that masks your bad feelings is just using a bucket to catch the leak.
Ignoring your bad feelings creates additional problems along with a growing list of symptoms. If you ignored your leaking roof, the water would also damage the floor along with the supporting beams. Additionally, the leak would get worse as your roof rotted. Inevitably, at some point, your roof and house would collapse.
Bad feelings that accumulate have a cumulative impact. The total intensity of two or more bad feelings is markedly higher than any of the bad feelings alone. Because of this, it’s imperative to deal with bad feelings as they arise. Allowing them to accumulate will create an overwhelming situation.
Look for warning signs of negative emotions. You may not be consciously aware of bad feelings but your body is. This can be the case when these feelings have been buried or denied. Symptoms that you should pay attention to can include bad dreams, insomnia, over sleeping, sudden mood swings, persistent lack of energy, or changes in eating patterns. stomach aches, and headaches. Any of these issues may be an alarm going off alerting you to take corrective action.
The faster you take action the sooner you will start to feel better. Doing nothing in response to bad feelings makes you feel worse and enables the negative emotions to become more deeply rooted. This is why it is crucial to immediately acknowledge bad feelings so that you can start dealing with them as soon as possible.
You don’t have to deal with bad feelings by yourself. It is invaluable to talk to other people about how you are feeling. It’s especially helpful to speak with people who have successfully dealt with similar emotions or seek the assistance of someone who is trained in how to deal with bad feelings. You are not alone and you can and will successfully deal with your bad feelings.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2012 Bryan Golden