Feelings are for a threefold purpose: protection, connection, and creativity.
When you feel safe and secure, both alone and with others, your mental, emotional, and physical resources are not required for protection or basic survival needs. At this point, your feelings are available for connection and creativity, often in the form of relationships, risk-taking, and novel or meaningful pursuits.
It seems most people experience pleasant feelings with relative ease while finding at least one or more painful feelings unpleasant, uncomfortable, or difficult to bear. In fact, there may be some who find it extremely difficult to tolerate the whole range of unpleasant feelings that humans are capable of experiencing. Yet, when difficult feelings are not dealt with, they can intensify. They can seem to linger longer than we think they should, and avoiding them may muffle or dull the intensity of our pleasant emotional states.
People often wonder why the experience of unpleasant emotions is so strong and why there are so many painful and unpleasant emotions. The truth is, at the most basic level, these difficult feelings can protect us and in help us survive in the world. Think about it from an evolutionary standpoint. Those who were more able to identify threats were also more likely to survive and have children.
We learn more from the negative so we tend to put more focus there. Negative emotions provide information necessary for perceiving threats, reacting to the environment, and surviving. For instance, anxiety heightens our alertness for danger; disgust potentially prevents us from ingesting poisonous or tainted food; fear helps keep us alive. Thus, our survival is far more dependent on our awareness of our negative emotions than our experience of pleasant ones.
Going forward, I’d like to challenge you to no longer label emotions as “negative” or “bad” since they serve an important protective function. Instead, I urge you to term them “unpleasant,” “uncomfortable,” “unsettling,” or “difficult,” which more accurately describes what you are physically feeling.
This weeks questions:
Were you surprised that so called ‘negative’ emotions are a good thing?
What specific emotion do you need to work on accepting as helpful yet difficult?
Next week’s topic: Sadness. How it serves you.
I’d love for you to respond on my facebook group!
Join my group on Facebook LOVE MY LIFE and let me know. I’ll post the question and jump on myself to chat and answer questions you may have, on Wednesdays at 3:00 pm Pacific.
To A Life You Love,
Dr. Joan Rosenberg