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Anger. Fear. Stress. Guilt. Negative emotions are a part of life. We can’t avoid them, but we can choose how we respond to them. Fortunately, it turns out that how we respond to them plays a big part in determining how these emotions impact our lives.

Feeling Bad About Negative Emotions: A Downward Spiral

The first thing to pay attention to is your relationship to your negative emotions. Are you putting yourself down for having them? Comparing yourself to others, who don’t seem to have those emotions? Are you trying to ignore the emotion altogether?

Feeling bad about having a negative emotion is a surefire way to compound and amplify the situation. You can quickly build a tower of negative emotions that can all come crumbling down.

The Siberian North Railroad

A great way to deal with negative emotions, emotional triggers and other emotional hot spots is the “Siberian North Rail Road” (SBNRR) response. It’s just five easy steps:

  1. Stop. This is the most important step. Instead of becoming wrapped up in the emotion or making an impulse decision, just stop. Decide to take a moment.
  2. Breathe. Take a deep breath. This helps clear your mind, as well as helps physiologically calm down your brain.
  3. Notice. Notice what you’re experiencing on a moment to moment basis. What are you feeling in your body? What emotions are you experiencing? Is it static or is it changing? Does the emotion seem out of proportion compared to the trigger?
  4. Reflect. What’s causing the emotion? Is it the right response? Is a part of you feeling attacked, belittled or threatened? Is there a story to the experience you’re having?
  5. Respond. Think of all the different courses of actions you can take. Consider the kindest, most compassionate way to respond to the situation (even if you don’t take that path.) Finally, make a conscious decision on how to respond.

The next time you find yourself struggling with a negative emotion, try the Siberian North Railroad method. Let us know how it goes!