Have you ever forced yourself to be more positive because you might “attract” something bad if you talk about your negative feelings? Or someone has brushed off your concerns and simply encouraged you to look at the bright side of things when you went to them with a problem? Such focus on avoiding negative experiences can create the mindset of toxic positivity.
This mindset suggests that an ideal human life is one where we’re never sad or angry. That we’re always meant to be happy, positive, etc. And that if we do feel “bad feelings”, there’s actually something wrong with us.
What if I were to tell you that your “bad feelings” are actually your greatest teacher? And that until you don’t learn the lesson from these feelings, you’re not truly allowing yourself to be happy?
How so? Let’s unpack it here together.
For instance, if anger leads you to slam doors or start shouting at other people, you may feel ashamed that you get angry. But what if you were mistreated and because you don’t want to get angry, you suppress the feelings?
It might lead to more mistreatment.
And if you aren’t able to process this anger, you begin to feel heavy inside. In fact, studies show that our body finds less useful ways to cope with the built up stress from unresolved emotions, such as numbing ourselves by workaholism, addictions, binge eating, etc. We can lead ourselves into many health problems as well.
That doesn’t sound like a good option, does it?
So, as you can see, ironically, when we don’t allow ourselves to feel the negative emotions, we become more unhappy.
While I’m not saying that slamming doors is the way to go, what if you found a way to feel your anger and express it in a constructive manner? What if, as a result of anger, you are able to create relationship boundaries that help deepen your connection with others? Thus leading to a more fulfilling sense of happiness.
Now comes the million-dollar question, how can you gain emotional mastery?
I have 3 tools for you to try out.
#1- Build emotional regulation.
While we can’t prevent bad things from happening to us during the day, we can definitely change how we respond to them. For example, it’s easier to respond calmly when you are well-rested, well fed, and are already in a good mood. However, if you’re physically tired or just came out of a heated argument, you’re more likely to lose your cool quickly.
So, practicing emotional regulation means we intentionally bring ourselves back to a more calm state. This is so that we can respond to situations instead of reacting to them.
And to build such emotional stability, you can set a reminder for a quick 10-second pause every few hours to ask yourself how you’re feeling. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- A feeling is something like sad, angry, happy, irritated, etc. Here’s a full wheel of emotions that you can refer to, to build your emotional vocabulary. Don’t resort to “I don’t know” – get curious about yourself and find out.
- A thought is something like “they shouldn’t have done that”. That’s not what we feel, that’s what we’re thinking. We often confuse what we’re thinking with what we’re feeling.
Now, start intentionally doing regenerative activities that can uplift you and support you in coming out of negative emotions more easily.
Maybe a quick walk around the block, or listening to calming music can help. Or maybe you realize you need to step away for a full hour so that you can get back into the right headspace.
If the activities you’re doing aren’t helping, you can learn these 8 new tools from my recent masterclass that help shift emotional states and negative thoughts rapidly.
#2- Throw a 2-min pity party every day.
Many people are afraid that if they feel their pain or anger, it will never stop. And some people may have a tendency to ruminate for days on their feelings!
While emotions can seem scary at first, scientifically speaking, it only takes about 90-seconds for the wave of an emotion to pass through our body. That is, if we don’t ruminate on or shut down ourselves from that emotion.
So here’s a deeper practice that actually allows us to get more intimate with our emotions, without getting stuck in them.
This is 120 seconds on the stopwatch where you give yourself CONSCIOUS permission to vent, rant, scream, cry, purge – whatever is your weapon of choice to release your emotions. Give voice to the very thoughts and feelings within you that are wanting to be heard.
The psychology of this tool? You are giving permission for energy to move through you. This is neither indulging endlessly in the mood nor running away from it. This is just enough time to let the emotion out, without spiralling down with it.
As you let go of some of the charge and the timer rings, notice how you feel now. If you’re still charged up, either run the timer again, or switch to step one, of emotionally regulating activities.
#3 – Build emotional intelligence.
This is the deepest work we can do for ourselves.
The truth is, our feelings are an indicator, an inner compass of what’s going on. They are NOT bad – however, what we do as a result of these feelings might make it seem that it’s wrong to feel a certain way.
So, the intention for building emotional intelligence is to be able to find the deeper wisdom of even the most strange and unsettling emotions. Let’s take our initial example of anger.
You might start asking yourself what anger really wants for you. What wisdom could it offer?
As you reflect deeply, it becomes clear that anger is simply pushing you to speak up against injustice! And of course that’s a great thing to do, when done effectively. So you begin to visualize yourself channeling that anger in more wise ways.
As a practice, here, you can imagine yourself feeling an emotion and sharing it with others in a powerful and meaningful way. What would you do differently? It can also be helpful to think of someone you know who expresses their emotions very effectively. What can you learn and adapt from them?
Tapping into this wisdom can feel challenging sometimes, especially when we are experiencing bigger, complicated problems in life. As a professionally certified life coach, I’d be happy to guide you through your emotions and help you overcome the inner turmoil. Please feel welcome to setup a complimentary consult or formal session using my calendar.
The greatest reflection of how happy we truly are, is not in how loud we laugh or how bright our smile is. Happiness is an inside experience. It starts with how happy we are with ourselves – with our own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
So if you find yourself struggling to live a life of happiness and alignment, it may be a sign to focus on healing your emotions. It might be time to step away from the toxic positivity which says happiness is in avoiding feeling our feelings.
Vasundhra is the Founder & Writer of My Spiritual Shenanigans. After seeing 11:11 on the clock one fateful night, her life turned around. Ever since, she has been blending modern psychology and ancient spirituality, to help herself and people around the world elevate the quality of their lives.
Ready to take your healing deeper? Book a laser-focused session with V using the button below.