What if “bad feelings” were not actually “bad” at all? Could they simply be a feedback message from your mind and body that something needs attention? That is my theory from my PhD, and it’s supported by some significant researchers too.
What could bad feelings, or “negative” emotions really mean then? Well I’ll reveal to you what I have worked out, from my years of experience with clients. This what I believe to be the real value of your emotions, what they mean, and how to make use of them. They are like a feedback signal, telling you there is something to learn or change in connection with some situation in your life – so that you can learn to “out-think” it and handle it better in future (or even pre-empt it).
Your emotions are YOURS
The first point I want to make is that no-one can make you feel anything. Yes, you can prompt, goad or encourage them in someone… but their response is down to them. I know it seems like other people upset you, or make you angry, but if you slow it right down, and examine closely, there are a series of steps involved. Fro example, If a cat gets run over, how much will purely dog-lovers care? Maybe rather less than the cat-lovers? And what about those people who hate clearing cat ‘poo’ from their lawns? I bet they would react differently. There are no emotions “out there” in the external world; we have to create them inside us. First, something happens ‘out there’, or someone does something. Then we respond with some feeling, or not, according to some internal ‘rules’ we have about what things mean to us. Does that make sense?
With that in mind, here’s a summary of what the primary emotions can be telling you.
Anger Anger is a stimulant. Anger says, “Do something now!” There is something you need to do now! Perhaps there is something unique to say, an action you need to take? Ask yourself, ‘Am I wanting the world behave the way I want it to, rather than acknowledge the way it is?’ Perhaps you need to learn something new, look at something a different way, or take action! And to do it now! Frustration is anger directed at yourself.
Sadness Sadness says, “Slow down, reflect and learn.” Something just changed, and it feels like a loss. Sadness slows us down and gives us time to think, reflect and gain new understanding from an event or new situation. Essentially, to absorb the positive learnings – after which it is time to let go and move on. Sadness over someone who died years ago is way past is ‘sell-by’ date! Sadness is keeping you away from all the wonderful feelings you shared with that person.
Fear Fear says, “Stop! Is it safe? Am I ready?” Fear originates from the instinct for self-preservation. If all logical checks have been made, and only a fear itself remains, then ask, “Do I still want to do this?” If the answer is yes, the following rule applies, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” An acronym of FEAR is: ‘False Expectations Appearing Real’. Mark Twain’s wrote, ‘ I have had thousands of scary experiences in my life, some of which actually happened.’
Hurt Hurt asks, “What were you overlooking the risk of happening, whilst hoping for the best?” Then when that unwelcome outcome turned up instead, essentially we then react by feeling hurt or let down. Even when someone says something ‘hurtful’ – it really means that we didn’t like what they said, and reacted badly. After all, people will say things – and in some cases we are hearing a ‘home truth.’ Hurt is a negative emotion, turned inwards on ourselves, which is telling us ‘there is something to learn here! If you don’t learn from this, bad stuff like this will probably happen again in the future!’
Guilt Guilt is the bad feeling you get when you are doing/not doing something which is important to you. It might be past tense. The question to ask yourself is “What am I doing/not doing, that wish I were(/n’t) ?” Or, “what did I do /not do, that I wish I did(/n’t) ?” Guilt is a totally pernicious emotion, in that keeping it will keep you trapped from doing what’s important to you! It stops you being true to yourself and to your true purpose in life. Be prepared to honour your true, personal values, as opposed to what others would have you do. Dump guilt now, and start dong what’s important to you.
Can you get rid of negative emotions? Yes, I believe you can. One way is to explore them as above. Buddhism also recommends this kind of approach. If you are struggling to release a negative emotion which is holding you back, then an enormously effective method to remove it is with Time Line TherapyTM techniques.