How To Overcome Negative Emotions Using 5 Writing Techniques

By Bria Pierce

February 9, 2017   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

how to overcome negative emotions

Having a positive attitude is important when it comes to improving your mental heath, but it can be difficult to push through negative thoughts. No one is immune to negative emotions – they can occur very suddenly, and in the most inappropriate situations. These emotions can also have an impact on work, studying, and our relationships with colleagues, friends, family, and loved ones. To keep these from becoming a problem, it’s useful to spend some time learning how you can get a handle on your negative emotions.

Luckily, there are plenty of tricks and techniques out there that you can use to overcome unpleasant thoughts. Writing has proven to be especially effective because it provides you with a way to release your emotions and deal with them in a more positive, efficient way. Since writing is a way of visualizing our thoughts, this tool can be useful in overcoming negative emotions and even helping us work out potential solutions to any problems.

Make a double list

make a list

Write down a list of things that make you upset/angry in one column, and opposite each of them write down things that make you feel happy.

There’s probably a lot more in your life for you to feel happy about, and seeing it presented in a list like this can help your brain move past the negativity to see what else there is. Focus on those positive things and pick a couple of them to experience today – go for a walk with a friend, spend some time with a hobby you enjoy, or just take a long, hot bath. Once you can see how the positive outweighs the negative, it’s easier to move on.

Write and revise

Write down what you’re anxious or furious about, go outside and take a deep breath, then look at your list again and write how your feelings have changed.

Once you’ve been able to express your feelings, it’s a good idea to put it aside for a while and do something else. Now that you’ve put it down on paper, your brain can let go of some of the negativity surrounding the situation, and you can come back in to look at it again with a fresh perspective. Often, you’ll find that whatever was upsetting you before isn’t upsetting you anymore. If you do still feel upset, you might discover that expressing yourself and then revisiting your problem gives you some ideas on how you might want to tackle it.

Describe emotions

Try to describe your emotions in writing in a detailed manner. Put as much description into your writing as you can to really purge yourself of those negative emotions. Be as clear and concise as possible, and don’t leave anything out. You want this exercise to give you a feeling of release, so don’t cut it edit yourself or cut it short. Write what you feel, and mean it.

The next time you feel upset, look at this description and see if you’re feeling the same way. Maybe you can see some consistencies and look at making changes in your life to avoid experiencing further negative emotions.

See Also: 7 Simple Ways To Overcome Negative Thinking & Set Yourself Up To Win This Year

Write a story

write a story

After a day at work, write a brief story and use yourself and your problem as a basis to construct the main character. Then build a plot in which this character will solve a problem; this story must have a happy ending.

Visualization is a great way to get you moving forward on the right path. By creatively plotting a positive solution to a problem for your main character, you can give yourself a bit of inspiration to apply some of the same techniques in your own life. See the fictionalized version of yourself enjoy a happy ending, and then you can take steps to achieve the same thing for real. It’s a nice bit of encouragement to get you working towards making some positive, healthy changes.

Let out frustrations

Vent your frustrations on paper, then tear it up, throw it away, or burn it. This follows some of the same principles as the third step – except that instead of revisiting this description later, you’ll never see it again. Be detailed and specific, get to the heart of whatever is causing you grief, and then watch it disappear forever. It’s a great exercise in learning to let go, and will help you move past whatever situation was causing you negative feelings in the first place. Get rid of it and move on. You’ll feel a lot better.

The important thing with any of these techniques is to get writing as soon as possible, so you can deal with your negative emotions before you spend too much time dwelling on them. The longer you let these unpleasant thoughts control your feelings, the more difficult it is to overcome them – and the longer you wait, the greater the risk of having these emotions negatively impact the important relationships in your life.

See Also: How to Control Your Emotions in Any Situation 

Throughout history, great writers have used their own negative thoughts and experiences to influence beautiful poetry and classic novels – giving these authors a feeling of relief and self-satisfaction and sharing brilliant pieces of literature with the world. Why not apply that same principle to your own life, and experience some of that relief for yourself? The next time you feel a negative thought or emotion creep in, grab a pen and a piece of paper and get writing.


Bria Pierce

Bria Pierce is a blogger and content editor. She writes articles on personal development, writing tips, and education. Bria earned her Bachelor’s in Theoretical Linguistics from The University of Toronto. Visit her website at or follow her on

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