Have you ever told someone about a negative experience you recently went through?
And have you ever felt worse after hearing the “positive-spin” response from that well-meaning person?
Sometimes, we tell ourselves these similar “positive-spin” things, too.
“I lost my job today.” “When one door closes, another one opens.”
“My spouse died.” “At least he’s not suffering anymore.”
“I feel depressed and lonely.” “There’s so much to be thankful for.”
While these responses are meant to help you see the positive and feel better, and while they may not be incorrect, they can actually make you feel worse…if you’re not in a proper inner place to hear them.
They can make you feel unvalidated, unheard, and even ashamed because you subtly get the message that you “shouldn’t” be feeling this way, or that you are “bad” for feeling this way.
Why is this?
We have been taught by our culture, our parents, our teachers, our peers that feeling negative emotions such as grief, loneliness, sadness, anger, frustration, and anxiety, is wrong or not okay. And we get uncomfortable when others share with us that they are feeling them because we don’t know how to deal with our own negative emotions, much less someone else’s.
We try to avoid the negative emotions, hide from them, stuff them down, push through them, fight them, kill them, snuff them out, banish them from existence.
The truth of the matter is: we feel negative emotions. And however uncomfortable they feel, those negative emotions are okay to feel and are not “bad”. But the more we try to ignore them or pretend that we don’t have them, the more trouble and discomfort they cause.
When we share with another person that we are feeling negative, and the response is something like “That sounds tough,” or “I don’t know what to say, but I’m so happy you told me”, or even “How are you feeling about that?”, we feel heard, understood, connected, validated, and accepted. We get the message that it’s okay to feel how we feel.
If it’s okay to feel negative, does that mean I am stuck feeling negative? No.
Emotions are “energies in motion”. When we accept how we feel and allow ourselves to feel how we feel, without diminishing it, trying to change it, dramatizing it, or exaggerating it, we are allowing the energy to flow through us. The emotion can come and go, leaving you feeling lighter, freer, clear, open, honest, aligned, authentic, connected…even if the “problem” (ie, your job loss) is still there.
If we don’t accept how we feel, we dam up the energy inside. Sure, we might do a really good job at bottling up that negative emotion and not experiencing it, but it is still there, in your body.
It takes energy to dam energy, to block it. So, bottling up and stuffing down negative emotions is a sure way to drain yourself of energy and create chronic stress. You’ll think you have “dealt with it”, but it will influence or show up in your behaviours, triggers, choices, thought patterns, and/or your physical body as pain or disease.
Ironically, the better you are at bottling, stuffing, and not feeling negative emotions, the worse you’ll feel in the end.
After you’ve felt and processed (some of) the emotion, then you’ll be in the proper inner place to more openly receive those well-meaning responses.
How can I begin to accept my emotions?
How can I respond to others with the message that it’s okay to feel the way they feel?
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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