Navigating Negative Emotions

So often we try to use coping skills to get away from emotion. We think, “I just need to get rid of this anger!” Or, “I have to distract myself from this sadness!”. Negative emotions are seen as inherently “bad”- something to get away from or get rid of. But these emotions are present in us for a reason. Maybe they are telling us that something in our life is wrong. That something needs addressing. Maybe it is giving us a push to shift something that needs shifting. Or maybe there’s nothing you can change in a situation, but a part of you needs acknowledgement or validation. Perhaps the feeling is a kind of gift, giving you contrast so you can experience greater joy later on. Whatever the reasons, the important thing is to deeply believe that it is there for a greater purpose. Once we reframe emotions as profound experiences with a deeper, underlying meaning, and no longer as frustrating or annoying things to simply be gotten rid of as quickly as possible, totally new ways of navigating difficult emotions opens up to us. We can recognize that we are organic beings, and therefore always in a state of flow and movement. Can we see our emotions and natural parts of our own cycles, an essential part of our being alive and conscious in the world? Every year there is a winter. Every night there is dark. Could we see our emotions this way too? And lastly, could we be a compassionate witness to this incredible, embodied phenomena that is emotion flowing through us? Yes, many times experiencing emotions feels painful, and even overwhelming. But slowly we can start to shift the meaning of even these most painful experiences. By first, allowing ourselves to believe that there is a deeper purpose to the existence of this emotion in this moment. Second, by acknowledging the natural cycling of emotional experiences in our bodies and our lives as a sacred process. And lastly, by allowing ourselves to compassionately witness our own experience of this emotion- not having to be inside of it at all times, but stepping gently outside it and observing with love. These tools can help us begin to change our relationship to emotions, instead of simply side stepping the experience.

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