The Three Types of Negative Emotions and the Messages They Hold

Emotions are messages to us that hold tremendous value. Negative emotions get a bad rap because they feel intrusive or distracting, and seem to come and go as they please without recognizing their timing at the most inconvenient moments. When our emotions are given the attention they deserve, they can hold a great deal of wisdom and insight to what exactly is going on inside of our body and subconscious mind. 

Emotions are messages created from our cells and generated from the signals elicited to our body’s essential organs. They tell us when we are exhausted, dehydrated, malnourished, in pain, or in some sort of trouble where we have to pay attention or else...

Our prefrontal cortex located at the front of our brain controls our higher levels of thinking. When confronted with physical or emotional stress, the brain’s normal physiologic function is quickly altered in order to cause immediate awareness that our body is facing some type of baseline irritability. Because the information being processed by the brain suddenly becomes altered by this internal sense of unease,  negative emotions are generated. By letting us know about the internal physical disharmony present, it allows us to recognize how we should awaken our consciousness and take the right type of corrective action. 

If you are experiencing an overwhelming sense of negative emotions you can’t seem to shake off, start investigating what exactly is going on inside your body.  Grab your journal and start taking notes about how your thoughts, feelings, and actions may be triggering a direct physical reaction. 

First, get comfortable with when these negative feelings begin, and how your body was feeling prior to their onset. 

Next, do a full-body scan. Ask yourself, “Are there any areas in your body that feel connected to these emotions?” For example, does this negative feeling become amplified when your stomach is churning after you’ve just eaten or when you’re super hungry? Does this feeling happen when you’ve been thinking a lot and hence, caused your breath to become slightly more shallow or your chest to tighten up? Does feeling emotionally bad coincide with feeling achy all over? 

Now try to tap into your inner wisdom by asking yourself some of the following questions:  

  1. Are you exhausted and need to sleep more? 
  2. Are you dehydrated? 
  3. Have you been adequately nourishing yourself appropriately? 
  4. Is your mind going 100 miles per hour and can’t seem to slow down and get better regulated?

After doing the exercise above, try to center your mind and connect what your physical body and emotions are communicating. This is critical to knowing what next steps to take in strategically figuring out how to get your mind and body to move in the right direction towards optimal functioning. For instance, if negative emotions have been stirring up from your subconscious to the conscious level and can no longer be suppressed, the body is expected to communicate this underlying trouble. On the flip side, if certain essential organs are in big trouble and cannot sustain their job(s) easily relative to the demand they are under, negative emotions will be signalled in the form of a fight or flight stress response. Either way, the physical-emotional connection is critical for us to recognize so that we can figure out what exactly is going on inside of ourselves and take immediate action. 

In other situations, when we’re feeling physically well, our emotions may simply represent habit patterns. The brain houses complex electrochemical networks where our thought pathways travel extensively to every organ in the body. When we engage in recurrent thinking patterns which no longer serve our emotional and mental well-being, a physical stress response is often triggered even when there is no known stressor present. For instance, have you ever noticed losing your cool about something and then being filled with regret wondering why you overreacted in the first place? Have you found yourself unable to let something go? These emotions seem disproportionate to the trigger itself, or are persistent and repetitive, begging for our attention. In these situations, our negative emotions typically stem from a previous thinking pattern or belief created in our formative years which is no longer serving our current state of mental health.  

If humans are machines built only for survival, remembering negative experiences from our earlier days can protect us when confronted with similar life-threatening situations since this is an excellent tool for staying alive. The problem is they no longer serve us when we want to shift from survival to thriving. Instead, these negative emotions create a negative feedback loop between our mind, body and spirit which often triggers a physical reflex reaction that accelerates premature cellular death, chronic disease development and the aging process. 

When you’re ready to take back full control of our thoughts and their direct relationship to your entire self, you are finally ready to move away from an outdated survival mechanism which no longer serves you. If you notice an emotion that feels out of proportion to the situation at hand, grab your journal and ask yourself: 

When was the first time in your life you felt this way about a similar situation? 

Is your earlier self the one who is reacting now, trying to protect you? 

Is this old reaction still valid and does it apply to your current life circumstance(s)? 

Am I allowing this earlier version of me steer my current perception of my reality, even though it may no longer be appropriate?

Negative emotions are important messages our internal compass relays to us by taking into account all of the information received from our current environment, thoughts, intuition, microbiome, digestive, endocrine, renal, and cardiovascular systems.  They are elicited when in particular situations, in the presence of certain people or even when we think about these circumstances. It’s important to explore our relationships between all of our emotions and the context to which these feelings are elicited; gaining such valuable insight will allow you limitless possibilities of how to effectively change your environment, the dynamics of your interpersonal relationships, and behaviors in order to create more joyful life experiences. 

Grab a journal and allow yourself to freely write everything that doesn't feel right about emotionally-charged moments you are experiencing. By writing down our inner thoughts and expressing our inner voice on paper, it sometimes allows us to intuitively figure out what’s really going on inside ourselves. Please be aware that if your reactions are aligned with an innate feeling of wanting to flee, give yourself more time to figure out why before proceeding to taking further action. The reason is a strong sense to flee, while sometimes necessary, can be representative of a deeply rooted avoidance pattern we may want to learn more about. In other instances, we may find ourselves ruminating on certain relationships which are no longer healthy and need to be altered in order to serve us adequately. Other times, these dysfunctionally-viewed relationships remind us of a similar relationship in our past which was laden with tremendous pain; when in the presence of these emotionally charged persons, we are unconsciously reminded of our past. 

In other instances, we may recognize that certain behaviors accelerate the jarring up of certain deeply seeded negative emotions. For example, many of us tend to overreact when we have been sleep deprived from going to bed too late or not getting enough sleep the night before. For others, eating poorly and being overly dehydrated can trigger a stress response laden with negative emotions. Sorting through our emotions takes patience; with practice and conscious effort, it definitely pays off. When we learn how to precisely interpret the connection between our emotions and body reactions, we are empowered on how to free ourselves from old stories which no longer serve us.

We are multifaceted; so are our emotions. Our feelings are not meant to be ignored, but to instead, be embraced since they provide us depth of information interconnected with our inner workings. Persistent negative emotions impact almost every aspect of our physiology: our hormones, gut function, cardiovascular, immune, and lymphatic systems, healing power, the aging process, and so much more. 

Even though whole diseases have been proven countless times to be heavily influenced by external stressors, modern medicine continues to ignore the interconnectedness of our mental, physical, and spiritual state. It instead continues to take a reductive approach to health care and lacks the ability to empower people on how best to jumpstart the healing process. Pharmaceutical drugs continue to focus on only mitigating symptoms, but unfortunately are unable to address why the ailment has occurred in the first place. By not directly targeting the root cause(s) of disease, we find ourselves frightened by increased acceleration of our internal physical body’s discourse. 

This is why working with an integrative healthcare professional is critical for guiding you on connecting the dots between how the body and mind can work synergistically together and drive lasting healing. 



Our Advanced Health Team Is Here to Support You. 

Our expert team of integrative holistic healthcare practitioners works closely with patients for addressing all of their primary care and chronic disease needs. By combining the best in evidence-based Eastern and Western medicine, patients who’ve reached their wits’ end with our current self-limiting modern medical system can finally  feel empowered at SF Advanced Health.  We embrace all aspects of a person’s health in conjunction with their story, environment and microbiome so that together, the root cause of disease is addressed and patients are guided on how best to be cured of their illness. 

To learn more about, contact SF Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.

Jessica Kolahi PA-C, LAc. Jessica Kolahi P.A., LAc. Jessica Kolahi PA-C, LAc, brings over 15 years of integrative medicine experience to her patients. She provides the full spectrum holistic primary care medicine for all adults with specialization in women's health. Along with extensive training and experience in acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Herbal and Energy Medicine, Physician Assistant Jessica is able to combine the best in conventional and traditional medicine to uncover the root cause of disease. Because of Jessica’s passion for holistic preventative and integrative medicine, she focuses on creating an equal partnership with patients on guiding them on how to effectively shift their health trajectory and prevent them from ever facing a life-threatening illness. Learn more about Jessica's practice at

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