How to Process Difficult Emotions: 5 Crucial Tips

by Gideon Hanekom
June 15, 2022

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This post will briefly discuss 5 important tips on how to process difficult emotions.

When we are confronted with difficult emotions, it is tempting to try to push them away or ignore them.

However, dealing with difficult emotions is an essential part of healing and moving on.

Trying to push away feelings of sadness or anger is akin to trying to flee a flooded house.

Eventually, all of the water will overflow and you will have to deal with your emotions in order to move forward.

How to Process Difficult Emotions

Most individuals have heard the expression “Don’t worry, be happy!”

The concept is tempting, but it is not great advice.

And yet, when you were at your lowest when you weren’t happy at some point in your life, someone undoubtedly encouraged you not to worry.

That phrase most certainly made you feel lousy.

Then something called “toxic positivity” comes into play.

Toxic positivity is the concept that being positive and cheerful is always beneficial and that any negative feelings are wrong.

However, this might lead to people concealing their genuine emotions or forcing themselves to be cheerful all the time.

Toxic positivity can also make it difficult for people to deal with their difficulties since they believe they should be able to snap out of them at any time.

But the truth is that not everything in life is rainbows and unicorns.

Today, I’d like to reassure you that it’s OK.

It is natural to feel overwhelmed, upset, or cry.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you shouldn’t feel sad or that your feelings are wrong.

And by pretending as if nothing is wrong, you are only making others feel awful.

It can even aggravate your symptoms.

How to Process Difficult Emotions

The good news is that you can deal with your emotions without exacerbating them.

It may take some time, but you will eventually feel better.

That’s the power of happiness.

It’s also OK to feel difficult emotions!

You will always feel sad, angry, or afraid at some point in your life.

It’s just the way things are.

However, you can improve your ability to deal with difficult emotions.

How to process difficult emotions?

First and foremost, why is it so critical for people to deal with negative emotions?

Because if we don’t address them, they might worsen and become much greater issues.

When we ignore our feelings, it can lead to a variety of mental and physical health issues.

We are far better off, though, when we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, work through them, and then let them go.

We may live our lives more fully and enjoy them more.

It is also necessary to deal with difficult emotions in love relationships to keep them healthy and balanced.

When difficult emotions are not addressed, they can quickly escalate to resentment, arguments, or even the termination of a relationship.

When a couple learns how to deal with difficult emotions, they can understand and support one another.

It also aids in the development of trust and intimacy.

So, how can you deal with difficult emotions more effectively?

1. Determine your current emotional state

Taking a step back to examine your mood can assist you in determining what’s going on within.

It’s natural to be unhappy, sad, or even angry if someone disappoints you.

Pay attention to how you feel when you start to feel these things.

You can think about something logically after knowing how you feel about it.

Perhaps your date had to cancel arrangements with you due to an emergency.

How to process difficult emotions

You don’t have to become angry immediately.

Instead, take a minute to consider how you feel about this change in plans.

Once you’ve determined how you feel, it’s time to look for the positive aspects of the situation.

You can choose the appropriate next action by considering the entire scenario.

You’ll also be happier.

Your friend, for example, may have had to cancel on you due to a family emergency.

If that is the case, you will feel better about what happened since you will know it was for a good reason, and you did not overreact, which may have harmed the relationship.

2. Allow yourself to feel everything

The brain tries to avoid pain by not feeling it.

As a result, when we are in pain, we tend to divert ourselves or consume candy bars.

However, confronting your emotions is the best way to deal with them.

So, the next time you’re feeling down, don’t try to “fix” it immediately.

Allow yourself as much time as you need to truly feel your emotions.

Then you can consider how you can address the problem more effectively.

According to some experts, a person who allows themselves to feel and express all of their emotions, rather than repress them, finds it simpler to let go of or store those sentiments in the body.

3. Instead of suppressing your emotions, focus on regulating them

Instead of avoiding your feelings, learn to control them when they arise.

If you are angry, take a few deep breaths and attempt to calm down.

I’ve already said it, but don’t try to hide your emotions or do anything you’ll come to regret later.

They may feel heavier and may even be stored in your body if you do this since they cannot be broken down properly.

Your body tenses and hurts when you try to hold your feelings within or hide them.

How to process difficult emotions

This is why it’s critical to develop healthy strategies to deal with your emotions to let them go and move on.

Furthermore, communicating your feelings is vital for the health of your marriage for several reasons.

For starters, it allows you to express yourself to your partner openly and honestly.

This can help prevent misunderstandings and anger from worsening.

Second, sharing your most private thoughts and feelings with your partner might help you grow closer and more intimate in your relationship.

Finally, expressing your emotions can help you relieve stress and anxiety, which benefits your mental and physical health.

But what is a healthy method to express yourself?

Ultimately, it boils down to striking a balance between suppressing and expressing your feelings.

You genuinely reveal who you are when you allow yourself to experience and healthily talk about your emotions.

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not always happy and excited

We all experience mood swings.

That does not make you a failure or a failure.

It suggests your emotions are dynamic and changing all the time.

Even the most optimistic people experience negative emotions from time to time.

Because you have ups and downs, you are a person.

So, instead of getting rid of negative emotions, focus on increasing positive ones.

How to process difficult emotions

Change your perspective on yourself and your life.

And punishing yourself for every unpleasant thing will not make you feel better.

Instead, you can do several things to feel better when you’re down.

One is to maintain contact with those you care about and close friends.

Talking to people you care about and who care about you can help you feel better and change your mood.

Another thing you may do is engage in activities that make you happy.

Doing something you enjoy or that gives you a sense of accomplishment can help you feel better and see things more positively.

Finally, reflecting on your gratitude can be beneficial.

Taking the time to recognise and appreciate the nice things in your life, no matter how insignificant, will make you feel happier and better.

5. Keep your hopes alive while being honest with yourself

Just because you’re upbeat about the future doesn’t imply you’ll never feel down.

Even if someone is unhappy with some aspects of their life, they might remain optimistic about the future.

For example, you may be concerned that the pandemic has caused so many global issues, even in your own life.

But you can still think that things will improve and that your life will improve.

How to process difficult emotions

Change is the only constant in life, which isn’t necessarily terrible.

Changes that appear negative at first can be beneficial in the long run.

But you need hope to deal with stress and other negative emotions because it helps you stay positive even when things appear to be going wrong.

So, here are some things to consider if you find yourself in a stressful scenario.

Make stress your ally and use it to your advantage.

Stress is often seen as a negative force in our lives and something that can lead to health problems, but it doesn’t have to be.

Stress can actually be our ally, for example when we’re dealing with setbacks, if we know how to use it to our advantage.

When we feel stressed, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, which means that we are more alert and ready to take action.

In other words, when you feel stressed, your body releases hormones that give you extra energy and focus.

That can be helpful when we need to be extra careful, have more focus, or when we need to get things done quickly.

If we can learn to use stress to our advantage during challenging times, it can help us overcome difficulties, be more productive and successful, or just focus on what truly matters when it matters most.

So, don’t let your anxieties, anger, annoyance, or anxiety overwhelm you, even though it’s far easier said than done.

Instead, consider these emotions to indicate that something isn’t quite right in your life.

Let them serve as an alarm bell of some sorts and allow them to inform your next action steps.

Choose one thing you can do to improve the situation, even if it’s only in a small way.

Instead of thinking about all the things that bother you or could go wrong, think about what one thing you can do to move things forwards.

Make a plan with a friend, assign yourself a daily task or ritual, or simply do something that will get you moving in the right direction.

It’s important to realise here that lack of hope is often driven by negative self-talk.

So, stop criticising yourself and look for anything to be thankful for.

Even if you’re upset or angry, try not to dwell on your negative emotions for too long.

Instead of repressing them, find a way to let them out.

If you don’t that, you will only harm yourself.


It can take time, effort, and patience to move through difficult emotions. It could take a week or several months.

How to process difficult emotions

But remember that processing difficult emotions is not a seamless or perfect process. It can be messy and hard.

But, in many cases, change is possible even if you don’t feel like it right now.

Your emotional health will gradually improve if you continue to work on it in a constructive way.

Remember that if you need to vent, there are usually someone who will listen and assist you.

Seek them out and and let them know you can do with a listening ear or just good company.

Please let us know in the comments if you found this article useful or if you have any concerns regarding how to stay positive when things are difficult.

About the author 

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a renowned relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website shares valuable insights on creating healthy relationships life. Gideon holds a Master's degree in theological studies and transitioned into professional counseling more than a decade ago. In addition, he since completed post-graduate studies in Psychology at Massey University. With over seventeen years of marriage to his wife and two children, Gideon brings both professional and personal experience to his relationship advice. His articles have been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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