In our world today, people want to feel positive and happy. No one wants to feel negative emotions like pain, anger, depression, doubt or fear. This is rightly so for negative emotions taken to extremes can be harmful for us.
Yet, there is a time, place and reason for everything. If something happens that causes you to feel negative emotions, it is ok to feel the way you do. Trying to struggle against or suppress what you feel will only cause more problems for you. If you resist what you feel, you are going against the flow instead of with it. This requires continuous effort on your part that may be hard to sustain.
The Human Condition
To be human means we must grapple with attachments, desires and expectations. Unfortunately, all of these things are vulnerable to change. To worsen matters, the world is in constant flux due to never ending changes. Nothing ever stays the same for long even though we wish it would.
It is therefore no surprise that changes can cause our moods and feelings to rise and fall. If we have good fortune, we will feel positive and happy. But if we have misfortune, more often than not, we will experience negative feelings.
If each of our lives is like a ship in the ocean of change, then balance is the key to weather the storms we face. How then do we maintain our balance in the midst of change?
1. Practice Self-Mastery and Control
In life, how badly events can throw you off-centre depends on your self-mastery and control. Likewise, how quickly you regain your balance also depends on these factors. If your mastery and control is superb, there is no issue. Even if events rock your balance, it is only temporary. You will regain it quickly enough. But for the rest of us, we might struggle to regain our balance especially if the crisis is great and unexpected.
Here, you must practice self-mastery and control in times of peace. This way, it becomes easier for you to maintain your equilibrium in times of crisis. Start with small matters that test and shake your balance, then progress to larger matters. When a crisis arises, use it as a test to see how far your mastery has come. It also helps to nourish your mind with material that fosters self-mastery in times of good fortune.
2. Accept What You Feel
Negative feelings arise because we cannot accept something. To worsen matters, we may not be able to connect with what we feel because of societal views and values. Instead of feeling what we must, we resist because we feel it is wrong to feel the way we do.
But there is no smoke without fire. We all have good reasons for feeling the way we do. To struggle against this only causes more inner turmoil for us. So do not judge yourself too harshly. Do not rationalize how you should behave, think or feel. Instead, give yourself full permission to feel what you do without judgement. Be aware of why you feel the way you do, embrace what you need to feel and let it flow through you. Let it go. You are not what you feel. What you feel is merely your response to a given situation. It will pass as the situation passes.
The key here is not to hold onto negativity longer than you should. Embrace your anger, pain, hurt, despair, fear, doubt or worry fully. By accepting what you feel, you facilitate your healing process instead of hindering it. You may not regain your balance instantly, but acceptance goes a long way in helping you to return to your calm centre. At the very least, you are already moving forward.
3. Small Steps
If the crisis is simply too great for you to regain your balance quickly, take small steps. Be patient and do not rush the process. If your strength alone is not enough, seek help to manage your feelings. Support during your darkest moments can help you to pull through.
Always remember that everything happens at its own time and place. You need to give yourself enough time to accept the changes or the situation. When you do so, you will regain your balance. But this may take many small steps.
The Measure of a Person
Everyone feels doubt, despair, fear, anger and so on at some point in time. Even the greatest leaders and most successful people feel these emotions. There is no dishonour in feeling what you feel. What matters, what will truly define you, is not what you feel, but what you choose to do about it. This is the true measure of a person. Will you allow your feelings to control you? Or will you master your feelings?
Whatever you feel has a cause. If you struggle against your negative feelings, all you are doing is dealing with the symptoms instead of the root cause of the problem. As long as the root cause remains, you will always have to struggle. If there is something you can do about the root cause of the problem, take steps to deal with it. Focus on the solution and not the problem.
For example, courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what you must in spite of it. What then can you do to manage your fear better? It is ok to feel doubts when you face a challenging situation. What steps are you taking to deal with your doubts? Have you tested to see if your doubts are valid? When you take steps to deal with the problem, whatever you felt in the first place will vanish.
But there may be cases where you cannot do anything about the issue. If it is a matter of timing, it may help to take a longer view of things and persevere. If it is an irreversible loss, like the pain of losing a loved one, reframing the way you perceive things may help.
Do you struggle against what you feel especially when it is negative? Or do you accept it and go with the flow? Does it matter to you what others think of what you feel? Do the views of others shape your feelings? How do you cope when you feel negative emotions? Are you harsh on yourself or gentle? How does your view of your feelings help your healing process? Do share your thoughts and feelings with us!