A therapeutic way to deal with negative feelings

For two weeks, I was bothered by an innocent conversation I had with a person.

Seriously… it was very innocent.  There was just chatting.  But something was said on their part — it’s not important what — that kind of bugged me.

And hours later it still bugged me.

And hours after that it grew from a nagging annoyance to downright anger.  I found myself grousing about it to my husband and close friends.  That’s how much it annoyed me.

That is not healthy.

One of my personal goals for this year is to learn to relax and let go of negative feelings.  I completely believe that it’s OK to have negative feelings — what kind of monster doesn’t have the full range of emotions?! — but letting them simmer and grow inside can start to intrude on other parts of your life.

I don’t have time for that.

There are right ways and wrong ways to deal with these feelings, and I’ll admit that I’m no expert, but I have learned a few things that I would like to pass on.

Wrong Way

Online

I’ll admit, I considered making a Facebook or Twitter status that was just vague enough not to call the person out, yet addressing how angry I felt.  But that’s a slippery slope.  And while it might have felt good at the time, I probably would have felt bad later, and you can’t take that stuff back.  It also looks really unprofessional and silly.

Better Way

Two weeks later, when I realized the comment still bothered me and it was starting to affect my overall perception of the person, I remembered something a counselor once told me:

Go back and address the issue with the person.  It’s never too late.

So, I decided to talk to the person.  But I hate confrontations, so I also decided to practice.

Speaking to the invisible person, here’s how my conversation went…

Me: Excuse me, could we talk in private?  Listen, I value our relationship, which is why I felt like I should say this.  Something you said really bothered me, and I don’t believe that you meant to say it maliciously, but I wanted to let you know that I was offended.  I’m not seeking an apology.  I just wanted to get that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.

And you know, what?  I felt better.  I didn’t even need to speak to the person directly to feel better.  Just having that practice conversation helped.  It was like a huge weight was lifted off my chest.

So if you find yourself bothered by something, I highly suggest having a real or imaginary conversation with the person.  Chances are, you’ll feel better, and the issue will have been dealt with in a mature way.

Now, if the issue is something that requires action on the part of the other person, I recommend the practice conversation, then actually having the conversation with the person.  I’m sure they will appreciate your professionalism and maturity.  And you’ll feel better in the long run.

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