Most of us don’t like feeling negative emotions. We think that we want to be happy all the time.
But what if being happy all the time isn’t really the goal? What if the goal is being fully present in any given moment, feeling whatever that moment brings up, and responding to those feelings in a healthy way?
I like that better than “being happy” because the truth is, life can be a kick in the pants sometimes and being happy isn’t how I want to feel when I get bad news, experience loss, or am hurt by a friend. In those moments I want to be human. Fully human. Fully alive. Feeling all of the feelings – easy or hard. Maybe that’s the goal.
Here are a few ways to respond to and process difficult emotions when they come up:
- Get curious. Notice your pain and ask yourself questions about it. Don’t judge yourself for it, or wallow in it. Just notice it.
- Accept it without buffering. Instead of turning to food, wine, Netflix or endless scrolling to escape the pain, radically accept the way you feel. We spend so much time feeling bad about feeling bad which only compounds the problem. By accepting it, you will already start to feel better.
- Remember that it won’t last forever. This too shall pass, my friend. This too shall pass. It might not leave you fully, but the intensity will lessen and the joy will come again.
The hard places are beautiful when we stop running from them and instead, lean into them. If you weren’t afraid of feeling hard things, how would it change your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.2