This is one of my absolute favorite topics to teach and it is one that will profoundly change your life if you embrace it. Here you go: life is half awesome and half crap. Half up and half down. Yin and yang. 50/50. Fifty percent of the time we can absolutely expect to experience negative emotion.
So WHY then do most of us think something has gone terribly wrong every time we feel sad, angry, confused, anxious or any other number of feelings that aren’t our favorite? Somehow we have gotten the idea in life that we are supposed to feel good all of the time. Which is completely bananas when you look at the landscape of life and all that it entails. And yet, there we are questioning what has gone wrong every time we are down. Think about it! Whenever someone seems less than “happy” we say “What’s wrong?” “What happened?” This line of questioning (obviously well intentioned) continues to solidify the idea that everything all the time should be upbeat. If not, we assume something is wrong.
What if nothing has gone wrong? This contrast of emotion is absolutely the way it was designed and is meant to be. We can’t even experience the happy without the sad. How would we even recognize it without the contrast?
Here’s another way to think to about it. If we only ever experienced happiness and perfection, rainbows and butterflies, what would be the reason to advance or evolve? Humans were not meant to be stagnant. We were meant to dream, create and grow. Sometimes those uncomfortable or “negative” feelings of longing and agitation are what we need to get us to move forward.
What would your life look like if you gave up the idea of needing to be happy. What if you gave up the quest for you kids, spouse and friends as well. What if we accepted the idea that life is 50/50? What would we do with the energy and time we would gain trying to resist the feelings and figure out what has gone wrong and who to blame?
One of my favorite thoughts to practice is “nothing has gone wrong here”. When we look for something wrong, our brain will find evidence. When I’m having negative feelings, but I tell my brain nothing has gone wrong, it can stop that process and keep me in charge of my brain. That allows me to own and process my feelings rather than react to, resist or avoid the negative feelings.
Learning this skill of allowing negative emotion can help you tap into freedom and strength you haven’t yet experienced in your life.