In the movie, “Princess Diaries,” there’s a scene where the main protagonist, Mia, sobs in her mother’s arms, after being humiliated in public. While holding and comforting Mia, her mother tells her it’s ok to cry because she has been hurt. That scene made an impression, because it doesn’t seem to be the norm.
For most of us, we’ve learned to “get over it” fast and buck up whenever we feel upset for any reason. We don’t really have the time or the room for inconvenient, sometimes messy negative emotions. Aside from the fact that they don’t feel good, they also make people around us really uncomfortable. In contemporary times, our inability to deal with negative emotions has an ally in the misapplication of positive psychology and spirituality (especially the Law of Attraction). That is, difficult feelings are not to be given any attention or airtime, lest we perpetuate the unwanted conditions.
Yes, energy indeed flows where attention goes. But, denying hurt doesn’t make it go away. It only festers underneath the radar of our consciousness, and eventually catches up with us—often at the most unexpected and inopportune times. Besides, difficult emotions do have their sacred place in our human experience. Along with the positive emotions we want, the negative ones we don’t want are two sides of the same coin, two halves of the same whole, the same oneness of life. We can’t reject one half without rejecting the whole of life. It’s an intrinsic part of the human experience to feel bad and badly sometimes.
Treasures in Negative Emotions
Having said all that, what do we do about our negative emotions? Surely, we don’t want to be crippled by them, do we? Here are the steps I’ve learned to honor negative emotions and to harvest the treasures they bear in personal growth.
Step One: Acknowledge. Feelings exist for the sole purpose of being felt, per Dr. Robert Holden, a spiritual psychotherapist. Imagine calling someone and being put on hold for years, if not indefinitely. That’s what happens when we ignore the feelings we don’t want to face. Can you imagine being put on hold indefinitely? Yikes! No wonder we get volcanic eruptions!
Step Two: Allow. If feelings exist to be felt, we need to give them time and space to do their job. This is especially true with respect to grief from loss of any kind. Grieving fully honors the experience we’ve shared with someone or something we’ve lost. There’s no hard and fast rule as to how long we need to grieve. Rather, our heart knows when we’re ready to heal, to distill the good in the experience and to transform the pain.
Step Three: Learn. Negative experiences don’t show up in our lives just to piss us off or to mess with our happiness. When we allow the grieving process to complete, we come to terms with what happened, even if we may never like the loss itself. From there, we can unearth the treasure within the pain, and integrate that into the rest of our journey through life. What did the experience teach me? What purpose did it serve? Was it a reminder to value every moment I have with someone I love? Was it a reminder to value each moment in the present, not to regret the past or to worry about the future? Are there some unhealthy thought or behavioral patterns I need to release to avoid repeating the same undesirable (personal or professional) experience? Might there be hidden limiting beliefs to update?
The key in this step is to not let the pain be in vain, and to harvest the treasure contained in what hurt—when we’re ready.
Step Four: Release. While, in some cases, we may never want to forget whom/what we lost, we don’t need to hang onto the trauma or the pain once we’ve allowed grieving, healing, and learning to run their full course. Other difficult feelings may be associated with old—perhaps even buried—experiences, that only surface when we do deep, transformational work, such as what my clients experience. There are a myriad of tools to help us release trapped negative emotions or energy quickly and easily, including Emotional Freedom Technique, Access Consciousness, just to name a few sets of tools. In some cases, when we feel we’ve been wronged in any way, true forgiveness of self and others is necessary. The processes in The Gathering by Jim Rosemergy are especially powerful.
Living Our Best Life Through Bad Times
Embracing negative emotions is neither popular nor objectively fun. However, it’s an unavoidable part of the human experience that’s ultimately freeing. While we may individually have different reasons for being here in this life, we all ultimately want to court more happiness, love, peace and fulfillment, don’t we? By raising our mindfulness and consciousness in how we live, we allow more of these qualities of our True Inner Essence to come through. Living mindfully and consciously doesn’t mean putting a non-discriminant happy face on everything—especially on ourselves when we’re in the midst of real challenges or grieving a loss. Honoring our negative emotions is about being honest, real and authentic. And, if you asked me, there’s really no better way to ensure that we live our best life, come what may.
Over to you: What’s your take on embracing negative emotions? Do you find it natural or difficult to do? How do you remain authentic and real with your emotions? Would love for you to share in the comment box below for the sake of our collective learning!
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