- in Into The World , Mindset
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Why negative feelings don’t exist
Once in college I was so depressed that I skipped class the day an important presentation was due. I remember lying on the couch really wanting to experiment with how shitty my life could get. It sounds sadistic, but I bet other people sabotage themselves, too, when they feel what many people consider negative feelings.
That was just the latest in my life-long battle with sadness, hating myself and life, feeling like I had black energy spewing from my heart that repelled all the life experiences I longed for.
It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered yoga, spirituality and an entirely new perspective on feelings and emotional wellbeing that my life began to change.
The truth about negative feelings
I’ve come to believe that painful emotions aren’t negative. They carry important messages straight from our true, authentic selves. Classifying some feelings negative causes resistance, which causes suffering and internal struggle. This yields two types of pain: the pain of the emotion and the pain of the resistance.
Resistance blocks us from the flow of life, including the natural flow of emotions. By resisting our emotions instead of feeling them, we actually feel more pain for longer periods of time. We resist our emotions, and because how we do one thing is how we do everything, soon resist other parts of life too, including ourselves.
The answer is to feel. Learning to feel our emotions — just the sensation without the story of how life is horrible — allows us to hear their messages, amplify our intuition and connect to our authentic selves.
All emotions are valid. Humans believe in negative emotions because we don’t like pain, but that doesn’t mean the feelings bad. They’re neutral. The only meaning is the one we give to it.
Here in America, we have a nationwide epidemic of sadness, anxiety and isolation. Ironically, many people walk around with bleeding holes in their heart and smiles on their faces as they put on a big show for everyone around them. What would happen if we dropped the façade, embraced authenticity and learned to love ourselves and each other exactly as we are?
Endless discussions involve ridding ourselves of unwanted negative emotions, unwanted fat, unwanted hair — this is really about not wanting ourselves.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t work to improve ourselves, but it should come from a place of love. We can’t connect to our true selves while simultaneously resisting our authentic expression of self.
So what are emotions and what can we learn from them?
Emotions are energy in motion
At the most basic level, emotions are energy in motion. Just as the body’s five senses continually process sights, sounds and tastes, the soul and intuition constantly assess your surroundings and activities, responding energetically.
Emotions are designed to flow through us, and when they do, there’s no problem. The problem happens when we resist emotions because they don’t feel good and we don’t like them. This causes stuck, stagnant energy that results in depression, apathy, extreme anger and general ideas that life sucks.
Change your energy, change your life
Everyone says change your thoughts, change your life, but I believe in an energy-first approach.
Think about how when you’re really angry — you don’t think angry thoughts and then feel the burn rise inside. You feel the heat of rage and then try to avoid smacking the next person you see! Sometimes the feeling rises so strong you don’t think at all!
That’s an extreme example, but in my experience, my thoughts shift dramatically when I take care to purify my energy body everyday through meditation, exercise and self-care. When you think about how exercising shifts your mood, this makes total sense. Exercise changes your mood by shifting your energy.
Emotions carry important messages
Jealousy is a great example of this. Nobody wants to feel jealous — it sucks to feel like you’ll never make anything of yourself because this other person won the universe’s jackpot and now you get to watch from the sidelines.
But jealousy only illuminates our own disowned desires. It highlights where we’ve been telling ourselves no, where we’ve sold ourselves short. Even if the same possibility isn’t immediately possible for your life, perhaps you can identify a creative solution to help you work towards actualizing your desires.
Sadness is important too. It’s just the other side of happiness — both are fleeting, transient emotions. Sadness isn’t a negative emotion, but a huge sign that we’ve been living too much in our heads, not enough in our bodies and the world. It’s a call for change!
Painful emotions highlight unhealed parts of us
Nothing outside can hurt us unless we have a corresponding wound within. This world is one big mirror. We view experiences from a lens of perception that’s formed from our experiences and wounds and interpret those experiences through the filter of other experiences viewed from that same lens of perception.
Life is just one big funhouse mirror.
The good news is that sitting with your emotions, simply feeling them without the story of how you’re flawed or wrong or horrible, allows them to move through you. As these feelings move through you, you heal in subconscious ways. As healing happens, fewer things bother you and you enjoy more peace.
In touch with yourself, your intuition is on fire. You know exactly who you are, what you’re on Earth to do and the next steps you need to take to fulfill your destiny.
Sadness or angry or jealousy may still arise, but you know at the core you’re a divine being full of light and tune into those emotions to learn even more about yourself, your soul and how to maximize your experience here on planet Earth.
Feel your feelings, change the world.
If you’d like a guide through this process, I’m happy to guide you home to your heart through group or one-on-one coaching. Simply email me and we can explore options!
QUESTIONS FOR INQUIRY
What is your relationship with your feelings? How do you treat yourself when you feel sad or angry or anxious? How could you shift this relationship?
Explore in your journal or share insights in the comments below!
What is your relationship with your feelings? They’re not great, but they’re okay. I have learned to let them be and not let them control me. But the emotions that come with depression are the hardest because sometimes it’s just a numb feeling.
How do you treat yourself when you feel sad or angry or anxious? I always check in with my breath and try to do a body scan. Otherwise, I just want to tell someone else (who is supportive) in order to not keep it blocked up.
How could you shift this relationship? I don’t pay attention to my energy as much. But I know it’s there. I can always try to notice my energy as separate from my emotions. 🙂 I know breathing techniques to help with that from yoga, but I don’t personally try it very often.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I appreciate it so much! <3
When we find ourselves having a strong emotional response that might not be appropriate to the situation, we can stop and take a moment to reflect on how our reaction may be influenced by our past experiences. We can come to learn about our particular triggers, those situations or traits that we are over-reactive to or that we tend to see where they don t actually exist. As we make sense of these reactions and how they relate to our past, and therefore have compassion for ourselves, we will be less reactive in our current lives and more adaptive in our responses and behavior.
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I’ve been having depression for 11 years, twice hospitalized, and I really resonate with your articles. You really get it, having lived through it yourself. The problem for me in dealing with it is that I can’t find anyone to help me. I’ve been to countless counselors, trying every med out there and still have 90% bad days. I try to sit with the feelings (meditation, etc) but I react to them so profusely I end up a mess. I excersize, get enough sleep and read everything I can get my hands on. I’m so informed about it it makes my head spin. Do I have to keep feeling this way hoping it will pass?
Thanks so much for the comment. I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble. The key mindset shift here is that you don’t need anyone to help you. You can, and must, help yourself. Even if you did find a therapist or coach or mentor who helped you, what they would really be doing is guiding you home to yourself. A lot of times we collect information to stop ourselves from taking action. The important thing to make big shifts is to implement. This is a really big topic, and I have a course that explores emotions in great detail called Emotionally Empowered. (It’ll open for registration soon.) The course would be a great way for you to explore why you hold on to these feelings, what they mean to you and what life shifts you’re being called to make. The short answer is that it’s important to feel. The thing is, you’re feeling it anyway, you’re just resisting the feeling. If you release resistance and truly feel the feeling, see what messages it has for you, then it will flow through you.