Updated: May 14
We humans experience a range of emotions. Both positive and negative. Negative emotions serve as a form of protection within ever-changing environments. They exist for a reason and in this article I explain why you need to stop avoiding them.
Imagine we’re back in cave-man days, fear is super important to avoid being attacked and eaten by predators or killed by rival clans. Back in present day this same trigger of ‘fear’ could come in the form of an unexpected alert on your phone or being called to a meeting with your boss.
We’re told it’s not good to have negative thoughts and to hide them away. Definitely never show them. How many times have you heard: “Don’t cry”, “Stop being angry”, “Don’t let it annoy you!”? Maybe you’re even guilty of saying them yourself in the past, I know I certainly have. But it’s so frustrating to hear those comments when we’re experiencing strong emotions. After all, they’re there for a reason and trying not to feel that way stops us fully understanding the cause of unwanted feelings.
Without bringing awareness to our negative thoughts, we can’t effectively manage or deal with them. They tend to linger and creep back up on us when we’re next triggered. So, how do we unlearn this harmful way of thinking and replace it with something more serving for our mental health?
To begin, seek to understand the root source of the negative thought or emotion. This is your minds way of saying something isn’t right, so try to spend a little time fully immersed in it. Let it completely consume you. Experience it. Are there relationship issues you’ve been ignoring, problems with your boss or a heavy workload? Or maybe something more subtle: a general feeling of lack of direction or purpose in your life?
Next, decide what sort of emotion you’d rather feel instead. How would you like to see yourself reacting? If you’re feeling angry at a certain situation or a particular person in your life, do you just want to feel heard and understood? Or, is it possible that your life has deviated somewhat from your true path? The longer this has gone on, the harder it may be to get back on track. Extreme decisions or measures may be required and we are all experts at avoiding or delaying those.
Finally, with the end goal in mind, create your plan of action. Make sure to write it out on paper as this will encourage your brain to let go and gives it permission to imagine a new version of reality.
How will you deal with the underlying issues? Knowing this is the only way to deal with the negative emotion and implement the positive in its place. So we must come up with an actionable plan that will fully deal with our unresolved issue.
Back in cave-man day’s it was simple. Learning the habits and favoured hiding places of predators would definitely help keep us safe from being eaten. In our modern world things can be more complicated with many moving parts. Maybe we need to improve the way we communicate within relationships, look for a new job or make even deeper changes. The important thing is to take the first steps today.
Remember, when you’re feeling something negative, instead of pushing it away to deal with another day, look at it, sit with that feeling and become aware of it. Accept this negativity for what it is and think of a way it can help you shift. See this negativity as an indication that something doesn’t sit right with you and use the opportunity to formulate a positive change you can implement in its place.
But, what if the issues just seem too much or there’s no clear route forward? Well, sadly it’s increasingly common these days for us to feel overwhelmed, but there’s no need to do this alone. In my day to day work as a life coach, I regularly support people in these kind of issues. In fact I love working with my clients to identify negative talk and patterns in thinking and bring awareness to it. I know it can really help to talk about this sort of thing, out loud, in a non-judgemental environment.
Gaining clarity by becoming aware is the first step towards eliminating chronic negative thinking, making positive change and improving your mental health. If you feel you’d like help working through an issue click here to book your free 30 minute session with me. I can’t deal with the issues for you but I can promise that by working together I’ll help lighten the load, bring much needed clarity to your thoughts and be your guide as you work to get back on track.
Love and Light