Why in the World Would I Want to Feel Bad Feelings?
Especially if they don’t feel good.
I know it seems counterintuitive. But stay with me here.
As a human being, we have a primitive brain that is constantly wanting to seek pleasure. When you experience discomfort in your body (negative emotion), your brain actually thinks you are in danger (in primitive times this served us) so its immediate response is to find comfort – pronto!
We spend a LOT of time avoiding, resisting feelings and acting irrationally and we don’t even realize it. It kinda goes under our radar or it exasperates into something worse.
- It’s why we look to eat or seek comfort foods even when we aren’t even hungry.
- It’s why we might want a glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage on a stressful day.
- It’s why you might find yourself doing a lot of other things besides the things you said you were going to do today.
- It’s why we use medicine to calm the discomfort in our bodies when we experience anxiety.
- It might be why you lash out at your partner or kids.
In 2016, Xanax (used for anxiety) was the 19th most prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 27 million prescriptions. 😱
All these things provide a quick dopamine hit to our brains — but what it really provides is a false pleasure that has net-negative consequences.
They may feel good in the moment but it usually doesn’t serve us long term.
We use all these things to escape our feelings.
These last few weeks, with the Corona Virus pandemic spreading throughout our world; anxiety, stress and uncertainty has increased exponentially.
So let’s talk about why you would want to feel negative feelings in the first place.
Especially the ones that might feel bad like anxiety, disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration, uncertainty and any other negative emotion that comes up.
Actually, right now during this pandemic, is the perfect time to practice feeling negative emotion because it’s processing emotions that will help you actually help you feel better.
Not wanting to feel negative emotion is like saying something is wrong with the way you feel.
Your brain wants to fix it immediately.
As crazy as this might sound, negative emotions don’t need to be fixed.
They need to be felt!
Even though we go through life thinking they do and we do everything in our power trying not feel them.
So why would we actually want to feel bad?
Because we are human and it’s part of the human experience.
All of it. The good and bad.
Somehow, we think we are supposed to be happy ALL-OF-THE time.
And, we go through life thinking that is the goal but we will always be disappointed thinking that.
Here’s how we know:
- Who wants to feel excited when their vacation or big event gets canceled?
- Who wants to feel happy when their mom dies?
- Who wanted to feel glad when they lose their job?
- Who wants to feel excited when their children’s school is canceled?
I don’t know about you, but I want feel terrible when these things happen.
We are here to live the full human experience. 50% negative / 50% positive.
Our brains do not like uncertainty or feeling any discomfort.
It’s constantly looking to solve for certainty. It looks to the news, as you scroll through social media, articles seeking for answers to solve for uncertainty.
It’s normal. It’s what our brains want to do.
A desire to be happy all-the-time has a price – it has negative consequences. It also cuts us off of living a full human experience.
We were born to live the human experience. That. is. it. It’s not all rainbows and daisies.
It has never been this way — have you noticed? It will never be that way either. Bad things happen.
Our life is supposed to include both negative and positive emotion.
With the Corona Virus pandemic, our brains seems to be hyper-focused on the doom and gloom and has our brains making things up that aren’t even true.
Have you noticed your brain going from one situation like I’m nervous about people not keeping their distance or still going out – being angry about it, then jumping to job loss, the economy, your friend who is a nurse that might get sick then the next thing you are watching the news and they are polling the numbers on the amount of deaths last night.
None of this serves you. Be informed but don’t overwhelm your brain with the negative.
Don’t start thinking of all the negative things that “might happen” to compound your emotion even worse. And, if you do — then give equal air time to the positive.
Ask yourself what good is going to come from this. Believe me there is a LOT of good too.
Here’s some: the world is connecting in a different way (none of which probably would of been possible 15 years ago), some can work from home, kids are still learning online, having more connection with a loved one that you may have been disconnected with, better parenting skills if you have kids at home.
Listen we can think of the bad but we have to also have to give our brains fair play for the good.
So — I’m not going to leave you flat with all your negative emotion and not know what to do with it — as if there is actually something to do with it. So…
Next time you experience negative emotion your body.
Just notice it.
Take a seat.
Don’t judge it.
Allow it to just there in your body.
How does it feel? Describe it.
Does it feel heavy?
Does it feel light?
Where is it in your body?
Is it at the pit of your stomach, in your throat, top of your chest?
Where in your body do you feel it most?
Does it feel hard, soft, fast, slow.
If it were to have a color, what color would it be? Red, green, black or ??
Breathe it in.
Just feel the emotion.
Just let it be there.
Do not react.
Do not resist.
Do not avoid.
Just let it be there.
Just notice that you feeling the emotion is not really harmful.
It’s just a sensation in your body.
That. is. it.
It’s not going to hurt you to experience this feeling.
You are not going to die to experience the feeling.
It’s just there.
You will realize it’s not that bad.
Your brain will calm down. Your body will relax. Breathe.
As you continue to process negative emotion you will actually experience less of it.
As you get good at practicing negative emotion when they arise, you get used to it and you won’t be on auto-pilot to the fridge for food or want a glass of vino to escape it.
Yes, life will still be 50/50 but you will realize the feeling is not harmful. You will not die.
You will just experience the emotion. You are human.
You won’t resist it. You won’t react to it. You won’t avoid it.
This takes practice.
You might only be able to sit with it for a minute before deciding you want to escape it with food or something else.
However, long it takes, it takes.
Do not judge yourself or ever beat yourself up over “avoiding” it with something to mask the emotion you are feeling (such as eating something you didn’t want to eat, or anything else you do) — that never serves you.
Come from a place of compassion for yourself.
Sometimes the emotion comes along for ride — but as a passenger, not in the drivers seat of your life.
We may still feel it. It may feel less intense. Our brain will learn to be okay with it.
We teach our brains we are resilient human beings.
We can do hard things.
You got this my friends.
I’m a certified life and holistic health coach, if you need help with this or know someone that does, don’t let yourself fall through the cracks, set up a free 20 mini-session so you can get the help you need so you can feel better. Press the contact button for👆🏻a link to my calendar to set your free-mini session.