Embracing ‘Bad’ Emotion

Misconceptions Around Negativity

Cry your tears and feel your anger. When it comes to emotion, we need to embrace negativity in order to release it…

There has been a message put across in the recent wave of new-age thinking, a message that basically tells us the importance of positivity. We need to be positive to be happy, to be successful and that it is our negativity that causes bad things to happen to us, that causes pain in our lives. While the overall message is mostly true, there are parts of it that don’t sit right with me or that get misunderstood. Negativity is that misunderstood part, specifically when it comes to feelings and emotions.

The way this message is often put across is that all supposed negativity will harm your life and we must let it go. The way that this is received by most of us is that negativity, both thoughts and feelings, must be fought against and resisted. We often then react by trying to fight not just our thoughts, but our ‘bad’ feelings as well. We find ourselves holding back emotional pain, holding back fear, holding back stress and frustration.

That’s what I tried to do for many years. I tried to resist my ‘bad’ feelings, by attempting to force myself to feel good or think good thoughts. I battled against myself, battled against my own mind, succeeding only in wearing myself out, draining myself of energy and prolonging ‘bad’ thoughts and feelings in my being. It was a hard battle, a real struggle and I thought it was for my own good, I thought I was mastering my mind, mastering my being. I wasn’t. All I was doing was covering shit with glitter, so to speak, and shit covered in glitter might look alright, but it still stinks.

Effectively what I was doing, through great mental effort, was covering up my negativity, squashing it down and down again in my mind, by applying positivity at great mental force. While at the same time not allowing myself to properly feel sadness, talk about my fears or vent my frustrations. The result being, that all that negativity stayed in me every time I tried to fight it with positivity. It was all still there, just temporarily crushed at the bottom of my mind and festering in my feelings. Holding negativity within me like that was very unhealthy mentally. It simply created more of the same in me, more low thoughts and prolonged, half felt ‘bad’ feelings. I also became very emotionally fragile, my eyes welling up with tears on a regular basis. Where I might have been able to force happiness upon myself briefly, most of the time that negativity, those dark thoughts, were consuming my mind and the positivity was a fleeting cover. One that didn’t last long as before I knew it that negativity sprang back up and took centre stage in my mind once more. I had solved nothing by being a positive warrior, each battle I fought, ultimately, just left me feeling mentally tired. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was going about it the wrong way.

negativity

Every tear we hold back stacks upon another until we are full, ready to burst with tears at the slightest prod. Imagine your mind can hold 100 thoughts and no more. Every time we hold back an emotion -anger, sadness etc, we take up one of those slots with that un-dealt with, festering emotion. We continue to hold back and before we know it almost all of our 100 slots are taken up with this negativity. A positive warrior would tell you that you have to fight to force your mind into positivity but think about it. What will happen if we fight to turn 1 out of 100 slots positive? While we focus on that one slot we may feel good, but that focus will be hard, 1 against 99 is a fight we won’t win, and as soon as we lose our focus those other 99 will begin to dominate and they will turn that one slot we fought so hard for, back to their side.

What you resist, persists. The longer I fought my negativity, the longer it would reside and thrive in me. I had to let it go, without forcing it. Easier said than done, I thought at the time. How can I just let go of these feelings? I can’t just turn them off and apparently I can’t force them out either. Difficult as it seemed at the time and as it may seem to you,  it is actually quite simple, easy even, to release our pain, lessen our fear and relieve our stress.

There is no hard work involved, in fact, we don’t need to try at all. When letting something go, there should be no trying, no forcing, no struggle. We have to try when picking something up, not when letting something go. So, first of all, stop trying, stop fighting. Just let that ‘bad’ feeling be. If you feel sad for example. Just let yourself feel sad, allow your sadness for however long it takes and embrace it. These emotions that we have deemed as negative are a part of who we are, they are there for a reason, just as joy and love are a part of who we are. All of our emotions are there to be felt. It is far healthier to embrace our ‘bad’ emotions when they come along than to run from them or fight them. Sometimes we need them, we need to feel sad or angry so that we can expel whatever it is from us, that is causing those emotions. Have you ever felt down and just wanted to wallow in it for a bit? Listen to sad music and cry? I certainly have. Because sometimes we crave that, sometimes we need that, in order for us to be able to let go of something truly negative within us.

There are healthy and therapeutic ways of embracing or allowing these emotions, as well as unhealthy ways. Releasing our anger unjustly upon another, for example, is not just harmful to them but personally unhealthy for us. The pain we cause with our anger will just return to us in some form or another. However, with a healthy release of anger or sadness, we can truly be free of it. This can be done in many ways and you will have to find what works best for you. You may wish to cry alone or with others, you may wish to purchase a punching bag or perhaps verbally vent your frustrations to a friend. Whatever it is, as long as it is healthy it will work, and you will be able to let go and feel a little lighter.

negativity

Embrace our sadness and we release our sadness. It is the embracing of these feelings and emotions that allows us to naturally and without any effort, let go of them. By letting it happen, by allowing the tears and releasing the frustration, by facing and feeling the fear we conquer it, by feeling those emotions truly, we purge them from ourselves. You won’t necessarily notice it straight away, but after you have embraced that feeling for as long as feels right, then you will already feel much better, much lighter. You must feel and embrace, then the letting go will happen on its own. It is a healthy and natural process and if you continue to do this with your ‘bad’ feelings, you will notice that you don’t have many down days anymore. You will have less sadness and less anger in you because you have felt those things and released them. You will notice that when you do feel angry or sad that you are actually kind of craving it, you need it. You need to feel that emotion in order to heal, to purge that thing from yourself and you will welcome the embrace.

That’s exactly what crying is, it is a purging of negativity and without that release, we continuously retain that negativity. In order for us to fill 1 of our 100 slots with something new, that slot must first be empty. We must empty our minds and bodies of all of this pent up trauma, pain and stress, and that starts with opening up and feeling it. Let yourself cry once and you empty a slot, vent your anger and you empty a slot, continue to do this and you’ll empty them all of sadness and anger.

With our minds clean and clear we can place a positive thought within them and with nothing to fight against it, nothing to hold it down, that thought will shine big and bright within us, creating positive feelings in our being. Creating joy, love and ultimately, happiness.

That ancient eastern phrase about your cup being full has a lot of truth to it. Just like a full cup of tea has no room for more tea, a mind already full of negative thoughts has no room for positive thinking. A clear mind gives consciously placed positivity room and space to grow and to flourish into something great.

There will be some slots that are harder to clear out, that perhaps no amount of crying will empty. For those slots, I’m sure you can guess what my suggestion would be. Like I have said previously, meditation can help to remove even the most serious emotional traumas if done so over a consistent period of time. I’d also like to be clear that I’m encouraging the embrace of emotion, not anxiety or depression. Wallowing in these will absolutely not make us feel better.

So with that little disclaimer out of the way, I fully encourage you to feel all of your feelings, the ‘good’ and the so-called ‘bad’. Do not suppress any of them, feel them and express them in a healthy way. You may wish to do this by yourself, in a safe space or on a walk, figure out what works for you. I guarantee you, it does work and it will work for you.

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Thank you.

If you were looking for methods of dealing with mental negativity, check out this article from HuffPost as well as our article on the effects of gratitude.

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