Updated: Oct 7, 2021
When a negative emotion comes up we tend to resist it, to fight it. Instead of treating emotions like messengers, we treat them as if they were us, pushing them away, as if they have a power over us.
Next time you become angry, frustrated or jealous, see if you can hear the underlying message from your past coming up as an emotion in the now.
How to survive negative emotions in the now?
Part 1. Understanding.
It happened, you missed the deadline, you argued with your husband and said hurtful things, you were let go from your job... you feel a rush of emotions rising up in your body, you want to punch something and cry at the same moment...now what?
Resisting negative emotions makes them stronger and louder. No one wants to feel sad, depressed, red-hot angry. No one chooses to feel resentful, guilty nor worthless out of their free will.
Why do these emotions exist?
I invite you today to consider the possibility that these emotions are echoes from the past. Echoes of events when you felt them for the first time and did not have the understanding and necessary resources to move through them safely.
When a baby boy feels anger for the first time, he reacts with crying and throwing a fit not because he is a brat, but because his limbic system did not develop yet to fully understand this difficult emotion.
Later in his life, no one taught him how to move through anger, because his parents were not taught it either, plus anger is an unaccepted emotion in our society anyways (because no one really knows how to move through it).
When a baby girl feels a sense of loss after having her toy taken away, she reacts with crying. Most likely she is also distracted right away by her parents because they cannot stand her crying. Now she not only cannot fully trust her own emotions, but she also learns that crying and feeling loss is not accepted even by her safest authority figures.
Later on in life, both the boy and the girl feel resistance to feeling negative emotions because they were taught that those emotions are not accepted, are "bad" or that only children can cry.
How are you supposed to safely move through emotional states without having healthy reference points on how to do it?
Emotions are your body's natural ways to tell you how you are doing and where are you going.
Emotions tell you if what you are doing feels safe, feels loving, feels fulfilling. They also tell you if your boundaries have been crossed, if your circumstances have changed, and where you are still attached to something or someone. They remind you of your beliefs, they ask you to listen. They help you relate to others and create a life that is worth living.
The first step to moving through a negative emotion is recognizing its validity.
Given your circumstances, it has the right to be there .
Part 2. Listen.
As we covered in part 1, the first step to moving through a negative emotion is recognizing its validity. Given your circumstances, it has the right to be there .
What follows the validation of your emotional state listening to its messages.
When you feel angry and you are not resisting anger, you have an opportunity to listen to the messages anger brings to the surface. Dig a little deeper to find the root cause of your emotional state:
-How did you feel right before feeling angry? Did you feel invalidated? Attacked? Violated? Made fun of?
-And right before feeling that, how did you feel? Did you feel ashamed? Hopeless? Out of control?
-What led to this core emotion? Poor boundaries? Low self-esteem? Hurt from the past?
-Become aware of how what you are feeling now did not start just a few seconds ago and how it probably originated months, even years back.
When you feel panicky, ask yourself the same questions. You might discover that at the core of your panic is an unexpressed emotional need for safety and closeness, reassurance or even the need to be rescued.
What do you need to believe in yourself in order to gain access to that positive emotional resource?
When you feel frustrated, ask yourself how did you feel right before feeling that? Inpatient? Judged? And right before that? Out of control? Unloved?
How is what you are feeling now a sign of a poor relationship with yourself, a sign of poor communication, a sign of attachment to past hurts and negative events?
When is your emotional state a symptom of the need for revenge, the need for being seen and heard, the need to blame?
Who in your family reacts in the same way as you? Where did you observe this reaction first? Did pick up that pattern of reaction from your parent?
Let those emotions be, they have a right to be there given your biography (your life's story, childhood reference points, past traumas, personal beliefs, privileges, cultural conditioning, predispositions, and ancestral history, etc.).
Now that you have a deeper awareness of your reactions, you can choose to respond in a different way next time.
To schedule your consultation and discover the root cause of your negative emotional state, click here.