Episode 7: Negative Emotions
I’m LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles and you are listening to The Confidence Catalyst Podcast episode number 7: Negative Emotion
Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Confidence Catalyst podcast. Thanks for joining me. I had a friend reach out to me last week and said, “hey, I just want to thank you for working out with me today” and at first I was like, what? She lives far away from me but she said that she took me along with her and listened to a podcast as she worked out. So wherever you are, whether you’re driving, cleaning, working out, shopping, or whatever you’re doing and wherever you are, I’m so grateful to come along for the ride. And please, wherever you’re at to take a moment and leave me a review on itunes. I’d really appreciate that! Thank you ahead of time.
This week we’re talking about emotions and more specifically, negative emotion. Sounds fun, right? Many of us avoid negative feelings like the plague. We don’t want to feel them. We don’t want to talk about them. We don’t want to think about them. We don’t even want to think about hypothetical situations where we MIGHT possibly, maybe would even feel a negative emotion. It’s kind of crazy how much we do to avoid negative emotion and this is a mistake, my friends.
It’s because of this negative emotion that we can progress and move forward in our lives.
Negative emotion is part of the journey. It’s part of our mortal experience and I want to teach you more about it so that you can have a different perspective about it and maybe welcome it a little bit more instead of running away from it.
So one of the biggest roadblocks I see in my clients and others is this initial belief that we’re supposed to be happy all of the time. I know that for a long time I operated from this belief as well and it isn’t helpful. It sounds so beautiful and ideal. Just think happy thoughts but really, that’s not the goal. We’re not supposed to be happy all the time and aiming for that creates a lot of other issues because we don’t know what to do with the negative emotions that come and they do come and then we make that negative emotion mean something bad about ourselves and it’s just this unhealthy belief that I promise, you is not serving you.
And let me tell you why this belief is actually a poisonous thought, when we believe that we’re supposed to be happy all the time we also don’t believe that there’s opposition in all things or we do, just not for us. Yes, other people can have trials. They can struggle. But the second something doesn’t feel comfortable or easy it’s like, what? No, thank you. Why is this happening to me? It’s almost this entitlement that life should be easy and fun and happy and without struggle. It shouldn’t be hard. This isn’t fair. This isn’t right.
And then your mind goes through this other spin too where guilt steps in and tell you, you shouldn’t be upset. You should be GRATEFUL! You’ve been given so much. You have so many blessings. You have clean drinking water! You’re just ungrateful.
It’s almost like you’re not “allowed” to feel anything other than happy and this is problem because we’re mortal. We humans have lots of feelings for a reason. Part of this mortal journey IS to feel the full spectrum of emotions. In fact, it’s not possible for us to experience happiness if its counterpart wasn’t present. We need the contrast to even know what happy is.
So we get into this habit where we resist negative emotions and again, when you’re not allowing yourself to feel the contrast, the full spectrum, you’re not allowing yourself to feel and experience a full life either. Not only are you not willing to feel the counter, you’re dulling the positive as well and I’m going to talk more about that in a minute.
What we end up doing majority of the time is resisting our feelings. It doesn’t feel good, we don’t like it , we think something is wrong with feeling these negative feelings- either with the feelings themselves or we make it mean something negative about us so we resist the feeling.
My clients don’t like that I tell them they need to feel these feelings, they’re like, “I’ve been feeling this way for so long already. I’ve been feeling bad or uncomfortable for so long that’s why I hired you so I could STOP feeling this way” but really, they’re NOT feeling their feelings. They’ve most likely NEVER really felt their feelings.
All they really know is the resistance to feelings. They think that resistance IS the feeling but it’s not. The resistance is actually what intensifies the feeling. I had a client just recently tell me, “I feel more relaxed when I allow myself to feel. When I resist, it’s tiring!” I said, “Yeah, that’s what I’ve been trying to teach you.” Resisting the feeling IS exhausting.
I want you to picture holding a beach ball under the water. I used to swim a ton as a kid. I still love swimming but I remember countless times thinking it’d be fun to sit on a ball under the water. Like those giant beach balls and I’d try to sit on it only to fall abruptly sideways because the ball is determined to reach the surface. When you hold a ball under the water it takes a ton of focus and energy to keep it down and inevitably what happens is that the ball will always find a way to the surface and when it does it’s like an eruption, it’s not a small thing, it’s a huge explosion.
It’s the same thing with emotions. If you resist them and keep trying to push them down and push it down they’re going to resurface and they’re going to resurface with a vengeance! This
Is why you get to that point where you just lose it. You just have this break down or melt down. One little thing happens and you bawl and completely lose it and it wasn’t that little thing that caused that. It was all the resisting and resisting and it’s just exhausting.
Also when we’re resisting we’re adding more strain, expending more energy on top of the already discomfort of the feeling in the first place. So you’re multiplying the intensity of the negative feeling.
So we really need to start by talking about feeling an emotion. Like I mentioned last week in the episode on learning to set yourself free I taught you about the model and that feelings are a critical part of the deal. Feelings drive our actions and it’s our actions that create our results. Allowing your feelings is a huge part of that.
There aren’t any good or bad feelings. There are just feelings. Just like there isn’t any good or numbers. Numbers are just numbers. There’s positive and negative numbers but not good or bad numbers. The good or bad portion comes from our thinking. Same thing with good or bad feelings – it’s not the feelings that are good or bad. Feelings are just vibrations in our bodies. The good or bad labeling of them comes from your thinking.
You think a thought and that thought generated a feeling for you. Those thoughts can create a positive or negative – notice not good or bad but positive or negative feelings. If you think about colors and if you isolated one color you have light and dark – not good or bad they just are. Really internalize that. If you were willing to feel any feeling know it’s not good or bad it’s just a vibration in your body there really isn’t anything you couldn’t do.
We stop doing things. We don’t do things. We resist certain things because we’re afraid of how that will make us feel. But what if you didn’t have to be afraid. What if you were just willing to feel it? What if you could say to yourself, “I’m feeling this emotion because of a sentence in my brain” – it’s not the circumstance that makes us feel anything. It’s not the people in our lives. Feelings are caused by a sentence in our minds.
The first thing I want you to do is just name it. Instead of tensing up and thinking, I don’t want to feel this. Like you start to feel frustration and it doesn’t feel good so you try to resist it. You try to plaster on happy thoughts or you avoid it entirely and quickly try to replace the emotion. You numb out the emotion by grabbing the nearest chocolate bar you can find or picking up your phone and scrolling through social media to avoid feeling the feeling. So you never really feel the feeling because you’re too busy avoiding or resisting the feeling. And this IS a mistake because you’re not allowing yourself to be present in this moment. You’re trying to run from it so you can feel better. You’re not allowing yourself to truly feel the emotion because you’re looking for something buffer the feeling with but you’re also numbing out the present moment. We stop trying to avoid the***and just learn to process them.
We miss out on taking our relationships to deeper levels by initiating difficult conversations because it might be uncomfortable, you might feel rejection, you might feel something negative so you stay at the surface smiling, pretending, resisting, not ruffling the feathers because you might feel a negative feeling.
But the kicker is is that these feelings, these negative emotions aren’t gone. The chocolate didn’t get rid of the frustration. You’re still going to have to deal with the frustration only now you’ve added an extra 300 calories and sugar to the mix adding in more thoughts, more emotions, and more resistance.
I feel like quoting, Star Wars, “Resistance is futile…come to the negative side” oh my husband would be so proud. Seriously though, come to the negative side. Allow the negatives to not only exist but to not mean anything bad. Negative emotions aren’t a problem. There’s nothing wrong with feeling an emotion. It’s a vibration in your body. It’s a part of you. It’s not there to attack you. It’s not out to get you. It’s not out to ruin your day, your trip, your life. It’s caused by a sentence in your mind and it’s part of humanity. It’s all part of this mortal journey. In fact, we shouted for JOY when we learned that we would come to earth and get to experience the full spectrum of emotions. FULL. Not just happy. We wanted to feel sad so we could comprehend happy. We wanted rejection so we could fully embrace connection and love.
We wanted to experience failure so we could understand and embrace feeling proud. The negatives really aren’t the problem. The problem is just your thinking and interpreting what those feelings mean and what if you just decided that it was okay?
What if you just decided that you would allow the feelings that need to be present and processed? What if you were actually excited even by these negative emotions? That you could be eager even that you’re feeling anxiety a bit because that meant that excitement was just around the corner?
We need to learn to allow the feelings -all the feelings – especially the negative ones instead of resisting, avoiding, numbing, pretending, and wishing them away. Just allow them. They’re just vibrations in your body and they’re okay.
So what does allowing look like?
First you have to just be aware of what you’re feeling. Go beyond the verbiage good or bad. A lot of people come to me and want to feel better. They feel bad so they want better. I don’t think that’s an actual feeling. Name it. What is it exactly that you’re feeling?
Are you frustrated? Are you angry? Are you feeling lonely? Are you feeling rejected? Are you feeling insecure? Are you feeling fearful?
Name it. Really recognize what it is you’re feeling. Before trying to change the feeling, before trying to run away from it and change the thought, allow yourself to feel it. What I mean by that is to just watch, become aware of what it feels like in your body beyond good and bad. What does sadness feel like for you? What does fear feel like?
A lot of people run away from fear. They don’t want to feel that. They don’t want to go after their dreams or accomplishments or anything because it MIGHT be scary but what does fear even feel like? Have you ever allowed yourself to just feel it? Think about going to an amusement park and feeling that fear on purpose just before going on a rollercoaster. I remember going to Disneyland with just my husband and chatting the whole time as we were waiting for the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, you know the one that is a straight drop and then they pull you up crazy fast and then drop you again? I actually read that they have cables to pull you up and pull you down to make it faster and even more intense.
Anyway we were just chatting the whole time and it wasn’t until I was sitting in the seat buckled that it dawned on me what I was in for. Like I got in line. I did have a thought, this will be fun. But it didn’t really sink in until I was in that seat and because I knew what was coming my legs started shaking, I felt this weight in the pit of my stomach and this sensation in the back of my throat, like verge of throwing up and I thought, I did this on purpose. I paid for this!
And we do. People watch scary movies – not me. I don’t like them. But we pay for rides and other events to be scared because it’s fun. How different would our lives be if we could be excited about feeling all the feels? Instead of avoiding, resisting, running, or reacting?
Is there anything you wouldn’t be able to do? Think about that. There isn’t a conversation you couldn’t have. There isn’t a request you couldn’t make. There isn’t anything you couldn’t do or try that you wanted to do. The only reason we don’t do those things is because we’re afraid of how it will feel so if you’re willing to feel negative emotion there truly isn’t anything you couldn’t do.
Let me go back to naming it and describing it. Once you’ve named it and then pay close attention to how it feels, how does that vibration feel in your body? Where do you feel it? And don’t use words like good or bad – it’s as if you needed to be very articulate and factual describing it to a doctor. You’d want to get the symptoms correct so they could treat you – same here. We want to describe it factually and articulately so you can distance yourself not from the feeling itself but instead from the initial thought that is creating it.
Remember, it was caused by a sentence in your mind – the feeling will stay if you continue to think that thought or thoughts like it. So when you start to describe it factually you distance yourself form that thought and you’re left with a clean slate to work with. It’s actually really beautiful.
These feelings are relentless. They’re like a toddler. That toddler if you don’t acknowledge it and address it will in fact continue on and on and on like a broken record until you look the toddler in the face and acknowledge it. Have you ever tried ignoring a toddler? They just get louder. Have you ever tried shushing or like putting your hand over their mouths to quiet them? WHOA Nelly…they go crazy! They get louder, they throw fits, they scream. Your feelings just want to be addressed.
Acknowledge them, allow them. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist from Harvard teaches that these emotions only cycle through our body for 90 seconds. That’s it. You think a thought, you start this cycle, this vibration in your body and as long as you allow it – it takes 90 seconds to cycle through. But if you ignore it, if you resist it you’re just prolonging the feeling and intensifying it.
It’s much easier and more fulfilling to just allow it. 90 seconds. Grab your phone, set a timer and start processing the feeling.
What does it feel like? Where do you feel it? Is it a fast vibration or a slow vibration? Does it have a color? Is it hot? Do you feel cold? Spend 90 seconds just being the observer or watcher of the emotion. Give yourself the gift of really being present. You’ll find that like my client, it’s much easier to just allow it than to resist it.
Negative emotion isn’t something to run away from. It’s all part of the journey. We wanted this. We asked for this. We chose this. Negative emotions are only painful when they’re not processed. They’re only made worse when you resist them. So just allow it.
Name it. Talk to it. “Hey, anxiety, I see you’re back. You can chill here for a minute.” Then just process it. Feel it. Become the watcher of it and observe what the vibration feels like. When you become aware of it, it also give you a glimpse into your mind. It allows you to understand WHY you’re feeling it in the first place and then from that space you can question the thought that triggered it. That thought is optional. You don’t have to believe that thought if it’s not serving you but you’ll never get to that space if you’re constantly running away from it.
Run towards it.
One more thought on this. There are negative emotions that I like to run towards. That I purposely choose to run towards. If you think about courage, I had to allow fear. I had to run towards fear in order to allow courage to exist. I have to allow failure and run towards failure so I can understand and feel proud and accomplishment. I have to allow rejection in order for me to fully feel and embrace connection and love.
I don’t seek to be rejected but I understand that I am willing to feel that or risk feeling that because I do want deeper connections, deeper relationships that can only happen if you give it the opportunity to dive to a deeper level by having those difficult conversations, by talking about things that are dear to you.
Negative emotions aren’t the problem. It’s a 90 second vibration created by YOU. If you truly embraced that, truly what a vibrant and beautiful life you’d experience. Don’t be in a rush or in a hurry to get rid of it. It is not bad. It’s all part of our mortal experience. Give yourself that opportunity to feel, really feel what these emotions feel like instead of what the resistance to the feeling feels like.
Resistance is intense and painful because it’s the feeling coupled with the extra energy and mental strength to try and avoid it. It’s like clenching your arm while getting your blood drawn. Would you rather the needle go into a rock or a soft, pliable surface? Which one is going to be easier and less painful? Breathe, relax into it.
There is power in allowing negative emotions to be felt and to be present. There’s this trust that you build with yourself because you know that no matter what, you are going to be okay. There isn’t ANYTHING you can’t handle because you’re willing to sit with and feel a negative emotion. It’s just a vibration. It’s just a 90 second cycle unless you trigger it again and if you trigger it again, start the 90 seconds over again. You can do 90 second intervals. You can do the vibration. You can feel the feeling and then notice as it leaves on it’s own.
You’ve acknowledged the toddler. You’ve looked into that adorable face. You’ve heard what it has to say and now it’s off and running again and you’re okay. No big scene, no drama, no painful experiences. Just a feeling.
Okay, practice, practice, practice. Allow the feeling. Let it come with you. If you get really good at this skill, truly what an amazing life you’ll lead because you’ll know without a doubt that there isn’t a thought you can’t handle. There isn’t a feeling you can’t feel. There isn’t anything you can’t do in your life. How incredible is that? What a gift and power and it’s all up to you.
Have a fantastic week, don’t forget to take advantage of my free consult. I don’t know how long I’ll be offering these so jump on it while it’s available and please don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes! See you guys next week!