5 common mistakes when coping with emotions

As human beings, we all have emotions; this is part of our nature. Our success and well-being is largely dependent on how well we manage them.

Some emotions are positive, they make us feel joyful, motivated and bring out our "light" side. But others, are just the opposite, they can make us feel miserable, and they often reveal our "dark" side.

The topic of this article is how to get along with this second group of feelings. We’ll go through the most common mistakes we make when dealing with negative emotions:

1. Hiding your emotions.

Have you ever felt ashamed of feeling sad, jealous, frustrated or fearful? Many of us have tried at some point to deny or hide the dark part of ourselves. The common beliefs that we may have assimilated from our environment don’t help either: “Boys don’t cry”, “It’s not right to feel sad when you have everything you’ve ever wanted”. Even the luckiest and healthiest person in the world will feel under the weather at some point. If only feel happy, calm and motivated all the time, it is against your nature. There’s no point in fighting against what you feel, or hiding it in order to pursue and ideal that is impossible. You’ll end up feeling exhausted, guilty, and you won’t be able to be who you are. 

2. Feeling guilty about your emotions.

In line with the above, maybe you feel guilty if you perceive you experience emotions like envy or anger. But the truth is, all of us experience these emotions at some point, so it’s normal. You must always remember that you are not your emotions, so don't blame yourself. You are much more than what you feel and you can decide how to react when your feelings arise. You may have anger burning in you but it’s just a feeling; you don’t need to act accordingly.

3. Ignoring your emotions or trying to get distracted so you don’t have to feel them.

Are you running away from your emotions? Are they so scary that you prefer to keep your mind occupied with other things to avoid feeling them? A typical reaction to uncomfortable emotions is to distract yourself with other activities like eating, shopping, watching TV, drinking, etc. Some people even develop addictions as they feel powerless facing their emotions and don’t know how to get rid of them. The more you run away, the bigger and more fearful the emotion becomes. Distracting yourself may help for a short period, and you may feel temporarily relieved, but sooner or later the feelings will undoubtedly return.

4. Blaming your emotions on others.

“I feel like this because of him”, “If you had done this, now I wouldn’t be feeling this way now”. Sometimes you blame others or external situations for how you are feeling. Understanding your emotional trigger might help, but blaming others will just make everything worse, as the emotion will increase and you might end up hurting others. It’s not a matter of looking for offenders, because you are ultimately responsible for what you feel and what you do with that feeling. Looking outside of yourself and criticizing others is just another way to avoid managing what you feel. Just feel the emotion, and once you are calmer, you can find the best way to resolve the issue, even if it involves others.

5. Letting your emotions spiral out of control.

Breaking things, shouting and hurt others, slamming doors… all of us have let our emotions control us at some point, but what happens when the emotion subsides? Will the damage be worth it?

Probably not. How many times have you thought “If only I could turn back time…”? You can’t turn back time but you can learn, grow, and make amends for your mistakes. You can’t deny, avoid or restrict your emotions, but there are positive ways to express them without harming yourself or others. 

We’ve already explored a few common mistakes, perhaps you even identify with some of them. Congratulations - awareness is a huge first step.

I hope this article helps you become more aware of how you react to your emotions.

I encourage you to read this article if you’d like to discover how to manage them more effectively: "5 effective ways of dealing with negative emotions".


I'm here to help you with your emotions, just contact me here.


Andrea Arcusa
Psychologist and Life Coach