It kind of depends on where the negative feeling is coming from.
It will vary if it is coming from yourself or from someone else.
I try to follow the second rule in the Four Agreements on this one.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
I tell myself that I’m not going to let the negativity take over. Being sad and negative is draining and I have no place in my life for that. I can’t control what others do or how they act, I can only control my feelings and my reactions. If someone in my life is negative, I learn to ignore the negativity or I let go of the person from my life. If there are negative feelings due to a situation, I don’t dwell on it but take action instead.
@Bellatrix, related to an earlier question—let’s say the negative feeling is something like anxiety about something you know you have to do, or jealousy in a situation where you know you should be happy for the person.
I think your “why did I get that wrong?” would fit. I’m thinking about scenarios in which changing your behavior or situation wouldn’t help, and the only thing left to do is deal with the negativity. Failure, regret, jealousy, bereavement—lots of emotions could probably fit.
Sometimes it helps to set aside a certain amount of time to simply let yourself wallow in it. Perhaps during a long relaxing bath/shower, or when you can be alone for awhile. Once that time is over – get involved in positive experiences for the rest of the time.
If you can’t control the situation (which usually you can’t) then simply recognize that. You can be sad, mad, jealous, whatever, but I think that almost always realizing that you can’t do anything about it can help. For me, when I’m trying not to be negative or upset about something (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, so I’ve been getting some good practice) I first get upset and anxious because I don’t like the thought of not being able to control it….it makes me feel helpless and hopeless. So I wallow, or cry, and then I say “Hey, Deni, you idiot, stop it. You’re wasting your time! Get over it! You can’t do anything about it! The best revenge is living well!” And it is.
Realize that in a day, the hurt will be better. In 2 days, you’ll still feel it, but not as much. In 3 days, you accept it more without feeling bad. In a week, you should be able to get on with your life. Time is the healer. Just be patient with allowing yourself to grieve, because that’s what you’re doing.
I don’t get this that often but when I do am a bit of a venter. When I am feeling vulnerable, jealous, hurt, I find I need to talk to someone about it. It is of course important to feel secure that the person you speak to will keep your confidence. I don’t usually want reassurance or advice, I just need to talk through what I am feeling and often that helps me to start to make sense of how I am feeling and why.
I think @deni is on the money when she talks about control. When I feel like this, it is usually because something is out of my control and I don’t know if I have the capacity to fix it (often it isn’t something I can’t fix). Usually though time is the best thing I can do. Give myself time to get some distance between me and whatever has caused me anxiety.
I remember being passed over for a job I knew I was really well qualified for and the job was given to someone else. I liked the person who got the job but I knew he didn’t have my experience or qualifications. He was just more likely to clash with a very bossy and dominant person (and frankly bullying) person in that group. I felt it was unfair to give a less qualified person a job because the manager didn’t have the confidence to take on the bully. I was really upset. So, I spoke to a couple of people I knew well. Who listened and understood but I knew understood I just needed to get my frustration and hurt out. I should say in hindsight, I am so glad I didn’t get that job and something better came along, but at the time… I was not a happy person.
So time, work out if it is something you can actually change, and find a trusted ally who will listen, not judge you too harshly but who will keep your confidence. Those things work for me.
I take a nap and concentrate on my health and how my body works. I find holding on to negative feelings only really hurts your own body. So I try to remember that whatever got me mad isn’t worth damaging my health in the long run. So I try to sleep it off. It doesn’t work every time because some feelings won’t go away until you deal with it and felt you did everything you can to at least be heard. Then it will be easier to sleep it off when you at least done that.
But if its a minor thing, that doesn’t really need to be addressed, than no problem.
I try to fight against bad feelings, but sometimes it really is better to just go ahead and fully feel them. Often times, there really is no way around painful feelings and you just have to get through them. When I reach that point, I have a full-on wallow. Cry, vent, shut down, whatever it is… I do it all out for a day or two. That, plus time = better state of mind.
When the feelings well up, turn your attention away from mentally rehearsing the situation that provoked the feeling and instead scrutinize the actual physical sensations associated with the feeling. Bring your scientist’s powers of observation to bear on it, as if they’re the subject of your latest research.
I find that when I do this, much of the negativity drains away. The feelings are seen as just that—a cluster of sensations that aren’t negative in themselves. This also removes the subjectivity that makes the sensations seem like a personal problem. And finally, it breaks the causal link between the sensations and the dwelling on the issue that feeds the cycle.
Had an interesting experience along these lines just today. I was upset about conditions at work – the latest straw being a minor conflict over which of the two quiet rooms I may not enjoy my lunch in (the break room has been contaminated by a television). I stewed over that for a few hours, and suddenly – as though a switch had been flipped on the backstage of reality – I started getting compliments from random people, co-workers and clients alike. I received four or five in the space of an hour, which is a lot in a customer service job. Even about my whistling, which apparently brought up someone’s happy memories. This would be a first. Between those and an unusual surge of happier memories and attendant thoughts, I’ve been cheerful for the last two and a half hours.
So… I guess that one possible solution would be to get complimented on meaningful things. It’s harder than some others might be, since it involves genuine sentiment from other people.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
I don’t believe in the common notion of God, so I usually substitute the word universe instead. In any event, the prayer reminds me to look at events and situations in a way I can handle. Most of the time, I find that I need to practice acceptance (a very different thing than resignation, I have discovered) over many things that trouble me.
Though it may not be this way for most people, for me, I have found I have little control over things I cannot change. It behooves me to accept them and move on.
Again, for me, I have found that what I can change is me. When I am disturbed, I find that the cause of the disturbance is inside me. I have to look and change what I can about me.
Where I have the most difficulty at times is the third line of the prayer. I often lack the wisdom that shows me the difference between what I cannot change and what I can. I’m working on that.
Lately, I´ve concentrated on the following knowledge: a. If you hold grudges, you hurt yourself more than the other person. b. If you don´t hold grudges, you probably keep a younger mindset, which translates to a younger physical state as well…. and who doesn´t like to be/look young? Talk about motivation to not hold grudges…. :)
Now that I read all of the answers, though, I would add: (probably following mattbrowne´s line of thinking) It´s more effective to do something proactive, where you´re not trying to eliminate your negative feelings directly. Read the following articles I found a few weeks back, about keeping a youthful mindset (I just decided to make a google search about that out of the blue): http://rebounds.com.au/a-youthful-mindset/ http://advancedlifeskills.com/blog/maintaining-youthful-enthusiasm-at-any-age/
In summary, they talk about being thankful every day, vigorously pursuing ideals, not despairing when you find obstacles or challenges, etc. in essence, not losing hope/faith generally speaking…. I know it´s hard to achieve, but you might be convinced that it´s worth it…