We’ve all had times when everything is going great, and then all of a sudden a negative emotion washes over you, and you just can’t seem to shake it. What if I told you that instead of just being in a bad mood, you could utilise this emotion to better your life?
Negative emotions come to us for a reason…
Whether the negative emotions are …
- hormone-related and telling us we need to eat, move and live in a way that regulates our hormones,
- related to low energy and telling us we need to regulate our eating/exercising/sleeping patterns,
- past-related and telling us we need to let go of some unneeded pain from the past, or
- present-related, and telling us we need to make some changes in our life in order to be living in integrity with our values,
… all negative emotions are useful – if we care enough to listen to them, and do a bit of work.
There’s plenty of information around about what to do to regulate our hormones or fix low energy states using food, sleep and movement so I am going to focus on the latter two reasons.
What most of us do with negative emotions most of the time (myself included) is:
- Ignore them, and ride them out, in the hope that they will go away.
And they most likely will, eventually, but will also most likely return… with a vengeance! If you don’t clear each emotion as it comes up, they have a tendency to all meld together and amplify each other when your energy gets low, creating a lower low.
Some methods that I have found that are better for dealing with negative emotions than the one above are:
- Release them through awareness and meditation (works best with past-related feelings).
A negative feeling comes along – instead of ignore it, you keep it in your awareness, focus on it, meditate on it – feel it deeply, without judging or naming it. While doing this meditation you may feel the feeling most strongly in a certain part of your body – put your hands over this area while you continue. You may get a flashback to your past, from the time when the feeling first became part of your story. This will likely be during your childhood, when you may have used this feeling to protect yourself, or when the words or actions of a person you looked up to caused you to create a negative image of yourself (shame-related “I am bad/wrong/stupid/undeserving, etc”).
With the awareness that now, as an adult, you no longer require protecting yourself in this way, or holding yourself back with this negative view of yourself; you can release the feeling with love. You can thank it for protecting you if it did so, but tell it that it is no longer needed. Once you have released the feeling, imagine a golden light shining on the part of your body where you used to hold the emotion, healing the area.
This method can work almost instantly in some cases, or may take a few go’s depending on how deep the emotion is rooted, and how intertwined it is with other emotions.
- Integrate them to make important and necessary life changes (works best with ‘not living with integrity’ related feelings).
Explore the feeling. Write in a journal, just let it all out, it doesn’t need to make sense, just release it all and allow it to come together by itself later. This is like a journalling meditation in which you clear your mind, ask questions of yourself, and listen for responses.
Example questions to ask yourself:
How are you feeling? (try to get to the root of the feeling, not just the cover feeling – keep writing until you get there)
Why are you feeling this way? (‘I don’t know’ may likely be your initial response, and that’s okay, just keep writing)
What can you change to make yourself feel better?
What are your values?
In which area/s of your life are you not living in sync with your values?
Is there a change you know you should make, but you are blocking yourself from making the change?
What is blocking you from making the change?
Are you worried you might hurt someone if you make the necessary change?
Is fear holding you back?
Is the fear real or imagined?
What is the source of the fear?
How can you overcome the fear?
Questions and answers will likely come to you, the above are just examples in case you get stuck. Just go with the flow of whatever wants to come out. Steer back towards ‘what change/s do I need to make to be living in integrity with my values?’ if you go too far off topic.
Hopefully through this exercise you will have found out what change/s you need to make. The next step is to break that down into actionable steps, and of course and most importantly, take the first steps towards making that change immediately. Don’t put it off for tomorrow – do at least one small thing towards making the change right now in order to anchor the change into your life. Don’t worry, if you don’t follow through with making the change I’m sure you’ll get another reminder in the form of more negative feelings soon enough, which will likely grow and expand until you can no longer deal with them and are forced to make changes!
How do I know which method to use?
The source of the emotions will help to decide which method to use. Ask yourself where the emotion stems from, whether it is past or present related. If you don’t know the source of the feeling, you can go through and try each method to see if any of them work in helping your state.
Note: Some emotions may be very deeply rooted, and you may require some help or support while unravelling them, at least in the beginning stages. It is okay to need help! I had assistance from a lovely counsellor/reiki practitioner at one stage during my journey, and others close to me have also used psychologists and other types of healers. The type of help you need will be different for each person, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.
These methods won’t stop negative emotions from arising in your life, but that’s not the point. Negative emotions are useful and necessary tools for our evolution towards becoming an integrated whole human being. They are the indicators that something isn’t quite right, and it is up to us to listen to them, and make the necessary internal and external life changes for the betterment of ourselves. Once we start utilising our negative emotions to better our lives, we can start to disconnect from the crappy feeling and actually feel a sense of gratitude towards them, as without them we would stay stuck where we are, and we all know that change and motion is the happiest, healthiest state of being.
Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Science
Currently studying: Master of Human Nutrition
But most importantly, Imperfect Human
Photo credit: kygp – happiest boy alive