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What are toxic emotions, and how do they prevent healing and moving forward? Toxic emotions are negative feelings that manifest within our bodies, minds and spirit. They become harmful when they lead us into a victim state, from which it can be challenging to get out and can cause mental and physical harm. Learning to control certain emotions is imperative, especially when moving on from divorce and other traumas to create a new and happy life.
The most common negative emotions associated with trauma and difficult life situations are fear, anger, guilt, and sadness/grief. Experiencing these or other negative emotions is normal in most cases. For example, divorce is comparable to a death, and there is a significant separation between the “we” of the partnership and the new “me.” We had entwined our lives with one another, including dreams and a future, so when suddenly one is no longer part of a “we,” it can be traumatic and lead to toxic emotions. Similarly, any time we feel down, negative or unhappy in life, toxic emotions can keep us stuck and unable to heal. The lesson is to prevent the feelings from becoming toxic.
Related: 12 Ways Successful People Handle Toxic People
Since it is normal to experience negative emotions about trauma or difficult life events, the first rule of thumb is to let yourself feel them, whatever they may be. Grieve, feel angry, sad, hurt, afraid, guilty or lost…these feelings must be recognized. You might cry, punch a pillow, exercise hard, scream or whatever non-dangerous release helps to relieve tension caused by these feelings. If the feelings are dangerous, cause you to feel so helpless that you cannot function, or have thoughts of hurting yourself or another or of ending your life, you must seek professional help immediately.
At some point – a time that can be different for each person – you must let go of these feelings and move forward.
This is one of the biggest emotions suffered by those going through trauma. It can also plague those who face difficult times, like losing a job or a home or the death of a loved one. Worrying about what a new life will look like post-trauma is easy. Where will you live? How will you pay the bills? In the case of divorce, a stay-at-home parent may have to return to the workforce for the first time in years, which is scary.
Being alone is also scary — who will care for you when you are sick or need help? What about parenting responsibilities, the desire to ease the effects of divorce on children and coming up with a plan to co-parent amicably? There is also a fear of being alone for the rest of one’s life (this is especially true with women and even has a name).
No matter what the trauma or life circumstance that leads to toxic emotions, when we feel afraid and stuck, it actually prevents us from being able to heal, and the longer we nurse this fear within our bodies, minds and spirits, the more troubles we may suffer, both physically and mentally. You may recall a time in your life (even childhood) when you were so afraid of something or someone that you got a stomachache or experienced other forms of stress — imagine what can happen over time when we let fear fester – it’s like an open wound that does not get cleaned and treated.
Related: 8 Ways to Harness the Power of Fear for Personal Success
Anger is another common emotion experienced by those who experience trauma and big life changes. Since many people do not understand how to start the healing process, blaming others or the universe for their fate becomes easier. With divorce, many will blame the former spouse rather than start looking within for the answers. Blaming equates to a refusal to take responsibility for the self and one’s own happiness, leading to stagnation and the inability to heal and be happy.
Anger zaps our energy, and it can lead us to a victim state. In this state, we believe everything happens to us instead of realizing we are the only ones who have control over our own lives, we become incapable of taking the reins and turning our lives around. Angry emotions can elevate blood pressure and lead to a plethora of physical and mental/emotional ailments, like poor focus and lack of energy, bodily pains and depression, rapid weight gain or loss, the desire to hurt oneself or others, extreme exhaustion, and lack of motivation, to name a few. This is not the way to heal or be happy.
Related: 8 Toxic Personalities Every Successful Person Avoids
Many traumas or difficult situations can