Law of Attraction gurus teach us that we are in control of our thoughts and feelings, and that what we focus on grows. They tell us that whatever we have in our life – positive or negative – is a direct result of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
And it’s true. I’ve proven it to myself time and time again (with both positive and negative results). Whether or not I am consciously or unconsciously thinking positive or negative thoughts, my feelings and actions always reflect my thoughts.
So we better be careful, right? If our thoughts and feelings are our choice – if they are completely within our control – then it only makes sense to choose to be positive.
I don’t know about you, but that can be a little crazy-making. And it would appear to mean that we should be avoiding the so-called negative emotions. There have been times, after having read a self-help book, when I’ve had a negative thought and immediately beat myself up for having it. And I really don’t think that’s the point!
In the sea of positive quotes, affirmations, and sound-bites, it’s rare to find good advice on how to experience negativity, whether its our own or someone else’s.
So here’s the thing: understand that you can’t have positive without negative, and that making a choice to think a negative thought and to feel a negative feeling is not only part of the process, it shows us that we can indeed experience what we consider to be negative without it destroying us.
It turns an unconscious reaction into proactive awareness and allows us to fully experience life. It provides a pause in which we can decide how it is we want to act in any given moment.
A really good example of this is grief. My father’s death was a shock. Completely unexpected. I didn’t experience what I consider to be grief until several hours after I found out about it. And then I experienced grief like no other. Not only did I choose to feel it, I allowed myself to fully experience it. It came in waves. And then it would recede.
And not once, when the wave came crashing down again, did I berate myself or tell myself not to cry. I just went with it. No matter where I was or what I was doing, I’d stop and just let the tears flow. Sometimes I’d sob. This went on for weeks and then months. No, not every day, but every once in a while it would overcome me. And still does now, almost two years later.
Choosing to feel grief is healthy because of what I make it mean: that I dearly loved my father, that he and I had a wonderful relationship that was whole and complete with no loose ends and nothing left unsaid or misunderstood, and that I would miss him. As wrenching as it sometimes was (and still is) to feel grief, overall it’s a positive experience.
Our most basic negative emotions are sadness, fear, and anger. From those basic feelings come more complex feelings like rage, jealousy, bitterness, disappointment, hopelessness, disgust, apprehension…and so on. All are valid feelings. They become unhealthy when we make them mean something that reinforces the negativity, when we use them as excuses, when we believe we can not control them or that they were imposed upon us by someone else, when we believe that we are bad for having them, and when we resist them.
Have you had a positive experience feeling a negative emotion?
A related post: The Quality Of My Tears