This curated column is authored by self improvement expert Emmaly Beck
After my article, “4 Steps to End Negative Habitual Thinking” came out, it was met with a lot of positivity. However, there were some responses I received that prompted me to clarify a few points.
Negative emotions should NOT be avoided or ignored. The article was simply about shedding light on the habitual process of thinking negative thoughts — not having negative thoughts and emotions themselves.
We live in a dualistic world and both energies, positive and negative, are sustaining life forces that teach us about ourselves and the world around us.They define each other; and it is for this reason that I think I should shed some light on why negativity can be a positive thing. They’re both on opposite sides of the same coin.
A negative emotion is your body — your spiritual body — communicating with you that a situation, person or thing is not right for you.
There is a lot of value in negativity. There are always lessons to be learned from it and those lessons are why you’re here on earth. Earth is a school. You’re here to learn.
When we think about what we truly want, most of us just want to be happy.
We’re not always interested in feeling all of the emotions that come with living a human life.
We live in a society that values positive emotion over negative emotion. We are still in the mindset of our primal brains: pleasure over pain. We want to avoid anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or uneasy. Happiness is our ultimate goal. We want to reach a state of bliss that is never disturbed. We want to float above life’s difficult circumstances.
The evidence is all around us. We have coping mechanisms built into the fabric of our society. Drinking, smoking, drugs, food, convenience… There are so many things in our society that exist to give us pleasure, to help us cope with our difficult realities and to help us buffer against the pain and discomfort that we do not want to experience.
However, negative emotion is one of our greatest teachers. The key is to embrace negative emotion, instead of resisting it.
Negative emotions are completely harmless (unless they become habitual). Something interesting happens when we actually embrace pain: we allow it to go right through us. The real pain is the resistance. When we resist pain, we suffer. If we embrace our emotions for what they are, if we allow them to happen and take its course through our minds and bodies, we learn valuable lessons and allow ourselves to grow.
Here are 3 reasons why negative emotions actually serve us:
1. They’re an indication of what we don’t want.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what we want. If we knew what we wanted, it would be so much easier to take action. Often we’re full of self-doubt, uncertainty and fear. Living in a dualistic world, knowing what we don’t want usually seems easier to figure out than what we do want.
When we experience circumstances or situations that we don’t enjoy, that’s an indication that the opposite of that experience is potentially something we would want. It is easier to move forward with clarity. Negative emotion is one of the most powerful indications of what direction we are meant to go.
2. They keep us moving forward through self-awareness.
Once we get feedback from an experience, we’re able to understand more about ourselves. As I’ll probably be preaching for the rest of my life, self-awareness is the ultimate goal. It is so important to identify which emotions we are feeling. Knowing how we respond to our emotions, either through acceptance or resistance, informs our choices and allows us to make decisions that better serve us.
Some of us accept our emotions, some of us suppress and buffer against them.
Knowing how we respond to our own pain gives us the insight we need to intentionally build our lives.
Most of my growth has come from my negative emotions. I write and produce content today due to my negative emotions of stagnation and frustration. I know that if I do not write, if I do not express myself, if I do not create, that is the quickest path to my own depression.
So I put myself first, I put self-love and self-care first, and I create my work. And I put it out there into the world.
Negative emotion surges us in the right direction that is unique to each of us. It will tell us exactly where to go, but we must be listening. To listen deeply and intently is to welcome the emotion instead of resisting it. Allow it to take its course. It is harmless. It is okay. It is here to serve you.
3. They are the key to our growth.
Mastering our emotions is one of the greatest works of our lifetime.
We are emotional creatures. Most of us live based on how we feel on a daily basis. Therefore, if we find ourselves in a moment of growth–when life is telling us we must start blossoming instead of remaining a bud–it’s easy to stop this process because we are scared, uncomfortable and full of uncertainty.
If we can manage these emotions by welcoming, understanding, and learning from them, we can move into a state of true resonance and vibration that is in alignment with our higher selves.