Let Go of Negative Feelings: 3 Ways to Watch Them Disappear

“Some people think it’s holding that makes one strong–sometimes it’s letting go.” ~Unknown

I’m the divorced mother of two teenage girls. Holidays are split; the girls have Thanksgiving with their dad and Christmas with me on even-numbered years, and vice versa on odd number years. It’s hard on all of us, but it has been especially hard on me this year.

This year I had Thanksgiving with my girls the weekend before Thanksgiving and asked if they wanted come over on Black Friday to set up the Christmas tree, as was the tradition before. They said sure.

I called them about ten that morning to find out when they’d be ready for me to pick them up. Well, they forgot and made plans with their grandmother to go shopping. I was devastated and in tears. So many emotions were ripping my heart apart.

I was mad and resentful. How could they forget me like this? This must be their way of punishing me.

I felt guilty. Had I not divorced their father, they wouldn’t be torn between two families! Maybe if I had tried harder… I shouldn’t be mad. They are teenagers and as such, egocentric! We all know this! I should be more flexible and understanding, but I’m mad!

I was afraid. If I show them I’m hurt and mad, they aren’t going to want to be with me, but if I don’t, then they might think I don’t care!

I criticized their father and grandmother. Once again their father has failed to stand up for my wants and needs! Once again, my mother-in-law has butted into my business with my kids!

I wallowed in all of these feelings for hours until I passed out from exhaustion. When I woke up, I decided that I was going to take on the philosophy of the Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch. I told my husband that I was canceling Christmas.

I was tired of getting hurt and if I didn’t celebrate Christmas ever again, then I wouldn’t have to get hurt again. He sat for a moment in silence and then calmly said, “What about me? What about us? What about our Christmas?” (Insert sound of crashing into a wall…) He was right.

I had gotten trapped in the vines of despair and now I needed to release it, but how? How does one let go? Is it easy as saying, “I release (insert your negative feeling)…” and then never thinking about it again? For some it is, but for me, I need physical and symbolic actions to take place. Here are some techniques that I have used in the past:

1. Burning

How many of us have been told to write a letter and burn it? That’s because it works. There’s a great satisfaction in seeing the words disappear in flames and the paper turn to ash. Whatever you wrote has disappeared.

Maybe the smoke carried it away to be cleansed in the universe. I like to take it one step further and put the ashes in the toilet and flush them away.

2. Window Crayons

Crayola has these nifty things called Window Crayons. You can write on windows or mirrors and it wipes off relatively easily. I like to take them into the shower and write on the tile whatever I want to release.

After I wash my body, I wipe whatever is left of the words off of the tile. (The water has washed most of it away.) Sometimes it takes a little scrubbing to get all of it off and down the drain, but the words go along with the dirt and germs you have accumulated over the day.

3. Buddha Board

I found the buddha board in a “new age” store and it has become one of my favorite tools to release bad feelings. It has a board that you stand on a pedestal that holds a reservoir of water.

You take the provided brush, dip it in the water, and then draw, write, or doodle on the board. Eventually, whatever you put on the board evaporates and disappears.

Next time you find yourself needing to release something negative from your soul, I hope that these few suggestions help!

Photo by ohhdange

About Michelle Chambers

Michele Chambers is an Anthropology major at Texas A&M. Visit her blog  Red Wine Confessions.

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  • Anonymous

    I love the idea of the Buddha Board – I must look out for one!

  • For many, the year-end holidays hold so many good memories that we desire to recreate the same, if not better, ones every year. This could become a source of agonies and anxieties for some. I feel sad for you that the start of the holiday has not turned out the way you want. Hope it’ll get better for you!

  • Karen

    I love these ideas – I need something tangible too and I can’t wait to get crayons for the shower – of course I may need a larger shower! 🙂

  • Oh man, I totally relate to being in that place, and I’m grateful for your honesty about those “less than acceptable” emotions we can sometimes experience! I was really cranky last week because my sister, mom, and niece and nephew went on a vacation to Mexico without inviting me and my best friend and her BF went to a party at my ex’s that i wasn’t going to attend. I felt so left out! I talked about it with my shrink but then realized that I didn’t want to be in that angry, disappointed, sad place. After unburdening myself to her, I was just able to put those feelings aside in order to be the person I want to be right now. I stopped taking it personally. The anger just sort of…dissipated. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family, and thank you for your lovely post. -Melissa

  • Atomic

    Wow that was a very hard story to read. But good suggestion to recover from those feelings. I would like to add one more point which my friends have always advised me.

    Just focus on something else you love the most and involve yourself completely into it. If you have not yet figured out what interests you, try out different things/activies(art, photography, music, games) and I am sure you will figure out soon.

  • Atomic

    Wow that was a very hard story to read. But good suggestion to recover from those feelings. I would like to add one more point which my friends have always advised me.

    Just focus on something else you love the most and involve yourself completely into it. If you have not yet figured out what interests you, try out different things/activies(art, photography, music, games) and I am sure you will figure out soon.

  • Crayons here I come. Thanks for giving my inner child a tip to creatively express herself in a fun and playful way for healing. There is an awesome book I am reading by John Bradshaw, Creating Love – the Next Stage of Growth, that speaks to some of the challenges you mentioned. Great read if you feel inspired. Creating Love Crayons… there is an idea!

  • Vail777

    Amazing article…and truly what I needed. I’m in that trap right now and want out. I can’t let go of anger towards my husband stemming from years ago and have diaries filled with wrongdoings. And when I look back at them, it’s such trivial things like, ‘my husband worked 7 days this week and I have no time to myself.’ Sometimes I’ll read back on what I wrote and it would rile me up again. Thanks to your article, I know I have to finally BURN them all.

  • This is lovely. What a wonderful ida to release our negativity in tangible ways. Beautiful. Namasté!

  • What great ideas, Michelle! I didn’t know about window crayons or buddha boards. Now I want them. 🙂 Thanks for sharing these playful ways of releasing the crud. 🙂

  • This is a great idea, I never thought of it, I will definitely try this the next time… thank you, I really caught this at the right time!

  • Korney

    It is all and about me also! As all communication!
    I love all of you!!!

  • Sunil

    All this things will give only temp releif….. First u need to understand wht is love …..its unconditional giving……tp be happy with ur beloved wishes… So if ur daughter r happy with ur g mother whts d deal … U wanted them 2 b happy … Dosnt matter how

  • Some nice ideas. When I was a child I remember we had an ornate teacup that read ‘write kindness in marble and injuries in dust’. I guess that echoes what you’re saying here, sometimes the injuries still need to be written but they don’t have to be permanent.

  • This is a very superficial “release” because it ignores the real problem, the heart. If you don’t deal with the heart then doing these things is absolutely worthless because it will only help for a very short time but it will keep coming because because the root of the problem hasn’t been addressed, the heart.

    Jesus said “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus, and only Jesus can clean you from those “negative feelings” which is pretty much just our own sin.

    We are sinners, all of us and because of that we have been separated from God for eternity and deserve hell. That’s why Jesus was born. Jesus was and is God. Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins and rose to life on the 3rd day so that we can be re-united with God forever. The Bible says that all you need is believe that Jesus died and resurrected to pay for your sins and you will be saved. It is not by doing good things because God requires absolute perfection. That is what Jesus died for, to save us because we could never save ourselves. Once we realize our need for a saviour, then all you need is to believe in Jesus and accept His forgiveness.

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” – John 3:16

    If anyone has any questions and wants to know more about this please don’t hesitate to email me at and I will gladly help.

  • Jordan Caleb

    Very good post!

  • I’m glad you liked the article. Sometimes it is a real help to be able to give yourself control over these emotions by doing something symbolic.

  • Melissa,

    Most of us, including myself, often hide in guilt and shame from those emotions because we’ve been taught that they were selfish and bad. Well, I’m a human being too and I have those emotions, and I find the more honest we are with those around us, the more honest they can be with us, and the easier it is to deal with those problems when they arise. Have a wonderful Christmas! xoxoxox

  • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. So many of us want to either recreate or create good memories that we end up saying “We’re going to have fun, whether you like it or not!” instead of just “going with the flow.” It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn because I have invested so much of my life to the creation of good memories for not only myself but for my girls. I’m working very hard towards learning to not try to control things and being open and flexible to new ideas and ways of doing things. As my husband says “Semper Gumby” (forever flexible)

  • Bustingbeliefs

    Excellently written… I’ve used a technique myself of writing a letter and responding to that letter until I was ready to burn the lot.

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  • Nagayy

    I think the idea of writting down a letter to the universe, relasing our emotions and placing them with relief does wonders for us! It is alco cheeper that having a meeting with a psychologist.

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  • Caseynfinnegan

    I really appreciate this article. I am a divorced mother of two teenagers and I too, often feel rejected and forgotten since the separation. I have suffered all of these negative emotions and feelings of powerlessness. But I am doing what I can to release it. Thank you.


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  • Tony

    There is an Android app to help let go of negative emotions, which has a calming effect and seems really effective for emotions like Anger and Stress.  A Free version can be found in here :

  • AtlasShrugged11

    Uhhh, I don’t have a mirror big enough! But I’m getting ready to write the letter and delete it of course!

  • Anonymous

    Our happiness counts just as much as anyone elses. Love is about 2 people mutually giving to each other… If one gives and the other just takes, of course negative feelings will arise. No one is immune to negativity, its just how we deal with it thats important.

  • kavin paker

    Never liked them, but that is what I had to study in school in Singapore since Science stream was the way to go.
    Hotelzimmer Lubeck

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