Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
I am in the business of helping people arrive at a place where they can view the world positively and identify the gifts in every situation.
At first it seems up hill, all too hard and quite frankly impossible to the people who sit in the chair opposite me. Eventually it all comes together and positive changes are made. Peace of mind is found, and a sense of being in charge of ones life is arrived at.
The issue is that there is so much information out there regarding the "power" of positivity that some have gotten the message too well. Too well? I know this seems to be in conflict with what I have just been saying, but it is possible to be "too" positive.
This happens when we commit to being positive no matter what, and we do so by excluding all the emotions which we have labelled as "negative." We have somehow arrived at the conclusion that some emotions are bad and should be avoided if we want to live a positive life, and have thinking that matches.
There is no such thing as a negative emotion. All emotions are here for a purpose. They are our internal barometer, they tell us how things are faring in our internal world. They are neither good or bad, they are just emotions. Sure some are more uncomfortable than others, and when we are feeling them we might think "I would rather be feeling something else at this stage" - but the fact is they are the right feeling/s for this moment. There is one exception.
Emotions and feelings can only be wrong in the instance where we have refused to acknowledge a certain feeling. We have allowed it to build up as we have quietly told them "no not now" or "no not ever" when we feel them threatening to bubble to the surface.
You know that is okay from time to time as we don't want our sadness poking out in the middle of our job interview. However we do need to give ourselves permission to sit in that emotion at the appropriate time. This is a very healthy thing to do as you give yourself permission to feel the emotion that it will pass quickly. It is almost as if the emotion is saying "thanking your for noticing me, I didn't need much of your time, just wanted you to know I am here" and then leaves.
Emotions provide an opportunity for self reflection. "Why did I feel sad in the middle of my job interview? "I know, this is a great opportunity for promotion, I have worked hard for it, but if I am successful it will mean leaving the people I have worked with for five years now, and I am going to miss them." Then an action will quite often follow. "I know I will make the team a farewell cake to thank them." Equally it might mean no further action will be taken. Acknowledging the emotion was enough.
Emotions that we refuse to feel or express, or even in some instances deny their existence all together causes us problems. Women are a good example when it comes to denying the emotion of anger (sorry girls I am not picking on you, I am one of you after all).
How many times have you heard a sister say "no, no there is nothing wrong. No I'm not angry," and then walk into the kitchen and you hear the cupboard doors get a real work out as they are being shut rather too vigorously.
How many times have you said or done something which is innocent, and had a response from someone which is way, way over the top? You are left confused, and the person who has just given you a spray is terribly confused or embarrassed; or is left justifying why they responded in that way.
These are examples of normal emotions being bottled up until the point they eventually erupt out of us. Usually at the inappropriate time and usually not toward the person who created the initial emotion in the first place. When we are in this state we are like human volcanoes, all these suppressed emotions are left simmering inside of us until the pressure builds up and kaboom!
The very same thing can happen with positive emotions. Have you ever met someone who is unable to be happy because they know someone who is having a hard time in their own life? They express their support by denying themselves the right to feel positive emotions.
Back to where this all started. You can live a positive life. This positive life starts with getting real about your emotions. When you give up labeling emotions as good or bad, and accept them as tools of your emotional vocabulary - life becomes more positive. When you are in tune with you and accepting of you; all of your emotions than life gets much, much easier.
So how do you become friends with your emotions? It is time for you to invite them in for a cuppa, all emotions welcome? The time and place to begin is right here, right now.
I am sure whilst reading this that there has potentially been a range of emotions arise for you. What did you tell yourself when you felt those feelings? Did some of the things I have said make you angry? What was your response? Did you tell yourself off? Did you push the feeling down?
Honesty is the next key. No more slamming the kitchen cupboard doors shut and singing out that everything is fine. When living a positive life, acceptance is a big key to happiness; and the key is to smile unless you feel like crying. To achieve ultimate happiness you need to be real about how you feel.
It is important to also feel your emotion/s, give it/them the respect it/they deserve, and see it through to the other side. Remember our job interview and how we felt sad? It wasn't the right time to feel that feeling, so we put it to the side to deal with later. You need to attend to this as soon as practicable. Don't leave it to simmer in the emotional pot for decades.
You know it sounds really harsh, but what you resist simply persists. If you try to lock away your emotions by denying them, labelling them as wrong or refusing to acknowledge them in any way, they don't go away. We will feel the impact of pushing them aside either in our bodies our in our sub-conscious. The other way this "unexpressed emotion" pokes out is by taking it out on others. Have you heard the saying "hurt people, hurt people?"
Emotional resistance creates uncomfortable sensations in the body. You need to breathe and breathe well to increase your chance of a positive and happy life. The mind and body share that feeling, so when we block emotions they share that experience also. That is why we often experience unexplained pains in our bodies.
Emotions are our friends. They are not good or bad, and when you treat them well, they will return the favour. Positive people, living positive lives have a positive relationship with their emotions. Emotions respond well to be treated kindly, and to you being open to every emotion that you meet. When we allow ourselves to be real with those that we come into contact with, we open up the possibilities of creative positive relationships.
You are in control of your emotions and feelings. They don't leave until you choose to let them go. If you feel sad, you can identify it's source and then let it go. Label and let it go. Just because you have experienced the feeling of sadness, it doesn't mean that you have to wallow in it to the point that it wrecks your day and everybody else's.
We deny the "bad" emotions because we want to live a positive life. The truth is that we need to build a "positive" relationship with our emotions for this to happen. We need to let go of the lie, that just because a so called "negative" emotion arrives that it gets to stay, and takes over the driving. We feel it, identify it, and let it go and politely thank it for the awareness that it has bought it.
We arrive at a positive life by connecting with our experiences, validating them and then letting them go.
It is a great plan to want to move your thinking to positive, and a big part of that is being positive about your emotions. All of them.