Your feelings exist to help you understand if things are going your way or otherwise. There is a growing belief in mainstream culture, that implies negative feelings are bad, and need to be done away with. People who subscribe to this type of thinking, become reactive to bad feelings they experience. By being reactive, they seek immediate release from these bad feelings, through behaviors that bring them immediate experience of positive feelings. Examples would be an overindulgence in food, drugs and alcohol behaviors which immediately stimulate the production of feel good neurotransmitters in the brain.
Avoiding Life’s Difficulties
Such a mindset creates a poor tolerance for coping with negative feelings. It also leads to low competency in dealing with troubling situations. The reason for this is because, an aversion to negative feelings also leads to an aversion to considering and tackling real life troubles. After all, why would you bother to face potential problems in life, if you are already fearful of negative feelings?
An aversion to negative feelings can be toxic to the sufferer. It is not uncommon for people with such mindsets to develop mental health issues such as social anxiety and depression. People in these situations usually have amnesia regarding the origins of their anxiety and depressive symptoms. These people live in denial about the origins of their anxiety and depressive issues. They have come to genuinely believe that their issues with anxiety and depression came out of nowhere.
Periodically, I see people going through life changing situations. Life changing situations such as a potential loss of income, the potential loss of an intimate relationship or the potential loss of their health. What is always fascinating about these people is that when they report that they are suffering from anxiety or depression related symptoms, there is a disconnect in their mind between their symptoms and current circumstances. Until the connection is pointed out to them, they are likely going to remain in a state of unawareness.
What About the Really Unhealthy Negative Feelings?
It is understandable that some people reading this will point out that some negative feelings simply should not be experienced. Negative feelings like loneliness, jealousy, hatred, shame, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, etc. These feelings are toxic and detrimental in nature. Due to the negative effects, they have on our self-worth. They wouldn’t be wrong in their assertions, however, it is the mindset of denial and avoidance of dealing with troubles in a person’s life that leads to the experience of such toxic feelings.
The reason for this is that if you are not actively addressing your issues, then you are experiencing a regression in your life. This leads to a self-defeatist mindset, which subsequently produces such negative feelings.
Good Times and Bad Times are Normal
The solution is embracing life on life’s terms. This means embracing any and all circumstances in life, as something that you are meant to experience. Chances are that somewhere else on this planet, someone as experienced a similar ordeal and successfully overcome it.
For example, if you have reason to believe that your current employment has potentially run its course, you can live in denial about what has been presented before you, until the inevitable happens. Or you can begin the process of actively seeking out a new employment.
For people who adopt the latter mindset, the theme of their thoughts is generally optimistic. This produces optimistic based feelings. They are also more action oriented and subsequently more confident, as they have learned important life lessons from the courses of action they have taken.
Whereas, for people who are habitually plagued with feelings related to anxiety and depression, they experience a lot of low self confidence and low self-worth issues. This is due to the passive stance they take in response to negative events in their lives.
Exercise Patience in Waiting Out the Storm
Once you are open to expecting anything from life, it will be easier for you to deal with negative feelings by thinking over how you are going to react to it. Never for one second, believe that your feelings are not worth noticing, or that they are not valid feelings and that you should overlook them. Your feelings are there to inform you whether things are going your way or otherwise. So, even if they are negative, you must accept them, engage with them and make your way through.
Don’t rush to ride the tide of your feelings. Let it overwhelm you. And once, the intensity subsides, you will be able to look at it clearly and decide what your next course of action will be. Much like, shores that can only be accessed once the tide sets, your feelings can only be dealt with in a healthy manner once you let them cool down. And once, you reach the calm after the emotional storm, you will be able to cut through to the cause of those feelings and understand why you felt the way you did.
Ugo is a life coach and psychotherapist who specializes in social anxiety. If you would like to learn more or if you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you are welcome to call to schedule an appointment or fill out the contact form and click send.