Updated: Jan 14, 2021
First things first, what is a “bad” emotion? Is there such a thing? What do emotions *do* for us? Well here’s the thing…they’re a gift.
If we went to cross the road, with no concept of threat or anxiety, why would we look before we step out?
If we had a big work project coming up, but no concept of drive or mild stress, why would we prioritise it?
If we are oppressed, but no concept of anger, why would we question our treatment?
Emotions send us messages. Messages that we need to hear. It might be a message that we’re safe and loved, a message of a threat and we need to act. Either way, that emotion itself isn’t negative. *But* our reactions to those emotions can absolutely be negative.
In the case of anxiety, if we avoid, excessively seek reassurance or check, it starts to impact on our day to day functioning, our distress.
In the case of anger, if we lash out or hurt ourselves and others, it can get us into real trouble in work, relationships and our own wellbeing.
So what do we do with the emotions that are sometimes hard to experience? We learn to sit with them. We sit with them and we listen. What message are we being sent by how we feel? Once we understand the message, we can start to identify our needs, for example to feel safe, to feel connected, to feel free. Once we know our needs, we can take concrete steps in meeting them.
Next time you’re experiencing a difficult feeling, try these four steps:
Take one deep breath
Identify the feeling, name it out loud
Why are you feeling this way?
And finally, what do you need in this moment?