Anger, impatience, fear, resentment, disgust, sadness and their ilk are emotions everybody knows about. I’ve been taught, probably just as you have been, that they form an unpleasant collection referred to as “negative emotions.” Recently though, I developed a sensitivity towards this pejorative way of describing thorny emotions. Let me tell you why. You might actually like this.
Personally, when I think of something negative, it’s generally not productive nor useful. I see it as a nuisance or something I definitely have no desire for. Lately, it occurred to me that when I applied, albeit unconsciously, this connotation to emotions, it actually made me want to get rid of them!
If you’ve read my story– just released yesterday on Amazon, yay! – then, you know how much anger was boiling inside of me for years and how I ignored it. For over three decades, I kept a lid on it and on sadness and on loneliness and on doubt and on… Anything that felt yukky, I suppressed. The label on these emotions was “negative” so how could they be good for me anyway? Instinctively, I became a triple O: an obsessively optimistic optimist and stuck to positive emotions. Ahhhh, these felt so good! I silver-lined every unfortunate event and half-glass-fulled bad news because it seemed like such an effective strategy. People around me thought I was mature, reliable, and emotionally strong.
Under the surface though, a toxic cocktail was brewing; I was more of a time bomb than Miss Congeniality. Four years ago, I blew up.
Negative Emotions Are Productive And Useful
The upside of my emotional explosion was that it helped me see how productive and useful negative emotions can be. I’ve come to understand that just like a stomach cramp pokes you in the side until you stop running, uncomfortable emotions is what nature has come up with to poke us in the direction that is best for us.
Emotions play a critical role. They are our most reliable guidance system. They speak to us just like a GPS does – yes, with equally annoying persistence – reminding us of our position in relation to where we want to go. When we feel “positive” emotions like optimism, confidence, passion, harmony, and joy, we’re heading in the right direction, doing the right things, and spending time with the right people. On the other hand, when we feel “negative” emotions like pessimism, insecurity, boredom, and rage, our system is telling us we’re not where we want to be, not with the people we want to be with, not doing what we want to do nor having what we want to have.
Today, seeing “negative emotions” from the perspective that they have the sole purpose of helping me be the best version of myself, living my best life, I cannot imagine ignoring the messages. My threshold for anything below acceptance (the fulcrum emotion – more on that in a future blog post) has become so low that as soon as I feel the discomfort of impatience, frustration or loneliness, I take some time to reflect. Some days I meditate. Some days I talk with my sweet spouse or a close friend. Some days I journal. Some days I tap. Whatever I do, I no longer allow negative emotions to stay unheeded nor do I see them as a nuisance. The unpleasantness of low-vibration emotions, just like incessant GPS observations of the obvious – “you have made an illegal turn,” “this is a one-way street, make a right turn…,” etc. – are there for the benefit of guiding me so I pay close attention and then take inspired action.
In the aftermath, I have to admit that the emotional release was ugly but necessary. Had I heeded my emotions sooner, I believe there would have been less collateral damage. Live and learn!
I’d love to hear your comments!