Sitting with Negative Emotions

We love to go to whatever lengths possible to avoid feeling negative emotions. We love to suppress, dull, avoid, and resist feeling emotions that don’t feel good.

We often believe that the events and the people in our life create how we feel. We don’t always know that negative emotions are created by our thoughts and that negative emotions are just vibrations that run through our bodies. In truth, how we feel is 100% influenced by the thoughts we think. That knowledge changes everything because we don’t have to wait for circumstances or people to change in order to feel better. The responsibility to feel what we feel is totally ours.

I am now a big advocate of learning how to sit with negative emotions and just feel them. I have learned that my negative emotions come from my negative thinking, so I can decide how deeply and how long I want to feel what I feel. I control all of it.

It took me a long time to learn this. Negative emotions are often just so uncomfortable that alI we want to do is flee as far away from them as possible. To stuff them down deep, with too much food or too much alcohol. To turn our back on them by checking out with too much TV, social media or gossip.

I know because I did this for a long time in my life. I was a big avoider of anything uncomfortable. Constantly overcompensating for any discomfort with over-the-top optimism, denial and trying to fix everything that I could get my hands on, even when I had no business trying to do so.

So what is the real downside of avoiding negative emotions besides perhaps, putting on a little extra weight, becoming a Netflix binger or living in denial? The real downside is that we can miss out of the opportunity to get to know ourselves. We risk missing out on the chance to learn what negative emotions are willing to teach us about what we think and why we are thinking it.

To know our thoughts is to know ourselves on the deepest level. It is this exact deepest level place where we can begin to decide if we have thoughts that we want to keep or change. That choice is our ultimate freedom – freedom to decide if we keep believing negative thoughts or if we want to create new thoughts which ultimately lead to better feelings. We feel better when we think better. No amount of food, TV, alcohol, gossip or drama can make us feel better in a sustaining, life-changing kind of way. Feeling better is an inside job. Sitting with our negative emotions invites us inside and this is the opportunity that is not to be missed.

Giving Credit

Have you been able to spend any time reflecting on your significant accomplishments from the last 2 1/2 months? No? Me neither. Until this week. Because I had this craving to take stock of what was happening in my life.

I sat down with my calendar and my journal and decided to review each day since 1/1/2016.

Yes, there were some big milestones in this last couple of months. Tests passed. Coaching certification earned. 2 trips to California. New coaching programs created. Workshops held. Medals won by my daughter at skating competitions. Projects completed. A 7th grade play. A picture on Facebook that told the world who I had fallen in love with.

A whole lot of amazing accomplishments.

But what fascinated me more were the small wins that weren’t captured in any notebook or day planner. There were so many other things to give myself credit for – subtle, small and quieter accomplishments that only I would know about. These, of course, are so easy to overlook because they are ‘inside jobs’ – not ‘the obvious to everyone else kind of accomplishments’. So, I went back through all those same days again, eyes closed and reflected on everything else that I done since the new year.

There was only one time that I had a fight with my daughter in the morning before school!

I gave up drinking for 30 days just to see what it would be like and it felt good!

I started believing that I could be a coach who could also help my clients with emotional eating!

I took a leadership role in my family where I normally would have taken a back seat!

I spent a lot of February feeling completely doubtful about my abilities and I asked for help with that!

I signed up for a 7 day cleanse and absolutely hated it and it taught me so much about my relationship with the food that makes my body not feel good!

I kept a lot of commitments to myself about how I would act, what I would say and how I would listen!

Wow. I was proud. And to think that I almost missed all of this beauty and growth because it hadn’t captured my attention in an ‘obvious and big accomplishment way’. Just because I hadn’t talked about these things with others didn’t mean that I didn’t deserve to give myself credit for them.

What would it be like for you to do this same exercise? What would you learn about yourself? What would you celebrate and give yourself credit for? How might it motivate you in the months ahead? No one but you, knows all that you do. Take a moment to connect with yourself about that. Gather up all the evidence of where you are doing small yet significant ‘inside jobs’. And celebrate it.