Honouring Negative Emotions to Find Relief

Since I published this post, I have connected with a number of friends and blog readers.

While many are taking these unusual circumstances in their own stride, I have a bunch of friends who share valid concerns about the pandemic.

Worries on the lines of:

Safety concerns for themselves and their family.

Financial concerns.

Caregivers feeling decision fatigue.

And even worries

On the possible time, things might take to get back to normal

Concerns that the numbers of infected people are way higher than what’s being reported because there’s no testing and the pandemic appears to be worsening with every news update.

A nationwide lockdown in my part of the world has only added to the angst.

While wallowing in the difficulties is the easy first step, my mind has been actively looking for ways to find relief.

Relief in ways to process the build-up of negative emotions and not seek momentary distraction from social media or food.

While I am not against taking a break by binge-watching your favourite movies or TV shows, doing that as an escape from processing uncomfortable feelings isn’t what I feel is correct.

Drowning my worries temporarily in the comfort of

home-cooked food,

freshly baked cookies

or

the social media stories

Comfort food and the never-ending feed of social media might keep us distracted for a while but never help alleviate the stress permanently. #theerailivedin #mentalwellbeing

might be easy but at the end of it all, the pain the anxiety and the worries still exist.

In their original, scary forms.

This is why I am a strong believer in investing time and energy in self-reflection.

Embracing and analysing negative emotions as a way to self-soothe.

In my constant pursuit of understanding my anger issues in the past many years, I have gathered tools that help me process big and negative emotions.

And today I want to suggest one of these to you.

Have you ever noticed that,

Every time you are feeling anxious, fearful or hurt, you’re approached by someone asking you to

“Calm down”

“Think positive”

Or remind you that

“You’re a survivor”

or

try to cheer you up with some good news?

I too have.

And I totally get it that these people have our best interest in mind.

They want us to feel better.

They’re trying to help.

But that’s exactly where the problem begins.

In times of distress, these words often irritate me.

These cheerleading words make me feel like people aren’t getting what I’m actually going through.

And needless to say, almost 100 per cent times, these comforting words fail to comfort me.

I feel unheard, invalidated.

I feel as if my feelings aren’t allowed and that adds to the hurt.

And the irony is, I had noticed myself doing the same while trying to comfort my child or a loved one on many occasions in the past.

When we’re feeling angry, hurt or anxious we are not always seeking a quick fix to feel better.

And most certainly, we aren’t hoping to be told how to feel instead of the way we are feeling right now.

Instead, we are looking for an understanding as to why we are feeling the way we are.

We are seeking empathy and compassion and not a quick fix or distraction.

Can you relate?

It helps to remember an idea that goes back nearly 2,000 years to the teachings of the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus.

“What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them.  It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.”   ― Epictetus Quote

Which translates to the life-changing fact that our feelings are caused by our thoughts and not by what happens around us.

It’s our perception, our mindset that is at the heart of what we are feeling.

If we can control or change our line of thoughts, we CAN change how we feel in any situation.

Ain’t that the most empowering thing to know?

I think so.

We can’t control what happens in the world we live in.

But we CAN CONTROL our thoughts and that can change everything we feel and do in our lives.

Does this mean that we should try to change every negative thought to a positive one?

The simple answer is NO.

While the long answer is, you must first ascertain if your negative feelings are healthy or unhealthy and then decide what your next action step should be.

Unhealthy negative feelings are those that are departed from the facts like,

“The Coronavirus epidemic will wipe out the human race.”

As of today, a total of 4,40,000 people have been infected with coronavirus and around 19,700 people have lost their lives.

We have over 7.5 billion people on the face of the earth.

While the odds that you or someone dear to you might contract the disease are significant, the possibility of us all dying due to the viral infection appear to be incredibly low.

If we take into account the number of people who lose their lives every day (due to a variety of reasons), these figures will not appear as alarming as they look in the first glance.

Besides, the anxiety triggered by this unhealthy negative thought can be lessened by connecting with everyone dear to you, anytime you please over a video call.

In contrast, healthy negative feelings result from valid negative thoughts. They don’t discount the truth and encourage positive actions.

For example:

“We are in the danger because of the coronavirus infection so we all need to be vigilant and take due precautions to keep ourselves and our dear ones safe.”

How can you differentiate healthy and unhealthy negative feelings?

You can do so by answering two simple questions:

  1. Does this negative feeling highlight my core values and beliefs?
  2. Are there any advantages of this negative feeling for me or my loved ones?

I put every negative thought and feeling through this test.

For example:

In the past week, I was stressed about how my elderly parents will cope in the wake of this rapidly spreading infection.

All sorts of negative thoughts were triggering feelings of anxiety, helplessness and fear.

My first reaction, almost like a knee-jerk was to try to change my thoughts into more positive ones.

Like a swap of black with white.

As expected it didn’t work.

“We are more often frightened than hurt, and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” - Seneca Quote

When I put my negative feelings to the test of the above questions, I learned something fascinating.

♥ My negative feelings had their roots in my love and concern for well-being for my parents. I was worried about their safety. So these thoughts and feelings were in line with my core values of being caring, kind and loving for the people in my life.

♥ The good having these negative feelings propelled me towards was it showed me the extra precautions and preparations I needed to do to keep my parents safe in these times.

To have a ready stock of all their medical needs.

It was a driving force to help me feel immense gratitude to be with by my loved ones and to be able to care for them.

These negative feelings were therefore healthy and I could whole-heartedly use the newly founded motivation to steer my life in a positive direction.

 

I highly encourage you to put your negative feelings to the test with the two questions instead of trying to quieten all worries or to whitewash them with blanket positive thoughts.

Just remember, your thoughts and feelings are in your control and they have a deeper meaning.

All you need to do is to be willing to analyse your feelings and make a perspective shift if your thoughts aren’t aligned with your core values.

It might sound daunting in the start, but when you get in the habit of doing these simple practices on a piece of paper, the immense calm and relief that follows is totally worth the effort.

Challenge the emotions that cross the threshold of your mind and channel this unique time into a personal victory for YOU. In these scary times of the pandemic, read how can you process your negative emotions to lead a peaceful life. #reframing #theerailivedin

______________________________

Have you been struggling to find hope and positivity in these troubled times?

Download your copy of the FREE eBook ~ 21 Steps to Build a Positive Life

This eBook is packed with do-able action steps that have worked well for me over the years. You’d be delighted to note that many of these steps are already a part of your daily life.

It’s just a matter of a shift in your perspective to help you see them boost your positivism than being a mere chore.

21 Steps to Build a Positive Life e-book - The Era I lIved In

Download your free copy here –> 21 Steps to Build a Positive Life

______________________________

 

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