“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Hellen Keller
It’s the sweetest feeling, but it just doesn’t last.
That glorious, but brief instant as you start to wake in the morning, when your mind is clean and pure and lovely.
But it vanishes in a blink as your cares and worries crash into awareness, reminding you of all you don’t have.
Without thinking, you start to review your lacks and limitations. You didn’t get enough sleep. You don’t have enough time. There’s never enough money. You’re not pretty enough. Or smart enough. You don’t have the right education, or car, or vacations…
You’ve set the stage for a dangerous world, so you brace for battle. Your brow furls or your shoulders tense. Maybe it’s your solar plexus or heart areas that tighten as your defenses kick in and the armour goes up.
And before your first cup of coffee, your awash in comparisons and judgements and inadequacy, riding a wave of fear into the day.
You know dark, heavy emotions aren’t good for you. And they certainly don’t feel good.
But with so many problems, how can you not focus on them?
It’s overwhelming. It feels like you’re being crushed by desperation and a neediness that makes you feel agitated, bitter, and resentful. You can’t stand the sour, bitter person you’ve become, so you numb yourself with addictions and trivialities, hoping for a miracle.
It’s heartbreaking and humiliating, but obviously your lot in life. Why hope for something better when it’s not going to happen? So day by day you give up a bit more, become a little more dejected, and care a little less…
The way out
Look, I know sinking in a sea of negativity can seem hopeless. But you really don’t have to stay mired in a toxic inner environment.
It seems paradoxical, but negative emotions actually give you a way out of feeling stuck, weak, and vulnerable.
But you have to stop running from them. You have to turn and face them. Then you can use them to forge solutions for a better and brighter future.
It’s tough work and can seem very frightening. But you can handle it.
And the rewards offer everything you want. Because behind every inner dragon that you face, is your storehouse of treasures, waiting to be claimed.
And that’s a hell of a lot better than being forced into change by bottoming out. I know, I’ve been there. Dragging yourself up from the bottom of a bottle, or any behavior designed to numb, is not an “easier, softer way.”
So save yourself, and your loved ones, some grief.
Start right now to transform your painful, negative emotions into powerful, positive energy.
Heavy emotions are not character defects
“You are perfect exactly as you are. With all your flaws and problems, there’s no need to change anything. All you need to change is the thought that you aren’t good enough.” – J. Cole
Even though they have a grim label, negative emotions are a normal and necessary part of human life.
They’re a low-level response to events that create feelings we don’t like or want. Feelings that make us feel angry, sad, weak, and so on.
Unfortunately, we often buy into the lie that simply having these feelings somehow makes us bad or wrong. As though their presence somehow makes us fundamentally deficient.
So we keep changing masks to avoid, dismiss, or hide from them. Which is a huge mistake. In my own experience, hiding from heavy emotions created enormous inner conflict. As well as lack of integrity plus even greater emotional pain.
The flip side is we give in to them completely. This is when we’re hijacked into stupid behaviour, anxious rumination, and feeble, self-defeating thoughts. And we behave like we have no choice.
In truth, painful, heavy emotions offer valuable feedback and insights about our environment, our safety, and how best to handle situations.
They can also provide us with the motivation to pursue goals, or to address and change behaviours we don’t like. And they teach us how to calmly respond to upsetting events instead of reacting wildly.
Signposts on the road of life, these low-level responses show us when we’ve made a wrong turn and guide us back to our true path.
When used purposefully for guidance and correction, you change their meaning. And when you change their meaning, you can see that they happen for your benefit, they’re not happening to you.
1. Make decisions with the win-win model
One of the biggest problems from a steady diet of dark emotions is that they impede decision making.
They fuel the idea that no matter what we do, our choice always lead to loss. We worry about making the wrong decision, and fret over all the possible mistakes waiting to happen.
So we avoid loss by avoiding risk. And we avoid risk by not deciding.
But this simply keeps us stuck in painful emotions like scarcity. Without a decision, we’ve done nothing to resolve the feelings of dissatisfaction and longing.
To deal with our horror of, and aversion to loss, learn to make decisions from the no-lose or win-win model.
The win-win model holds that regardless of the results that come from a decision, they’re all good. Whatever path we embark on is the right choice for us at the time. And it offers the best possible opportunities for growth, expansion, and fulfillment.
For example, let’s say you apply for a new job with better pay and get it. But you don’t make it past the trial period and are let go.
Even though you’ve lost the job, there are numerous benefits to be found. You’ve gained valuable experience, bolstered your confidence by trying something new, and have useful insights into what you need to improve on in order to land a similar position.
When things don’t turn out as we planned, if we can find opportunity and benefit in the outcomes, we’re still winning. There’s no loss involved.
And let’s fact it, we don’t always know what’s best for us. So when we stop insisting everything’s bad, we can find the glimmers of light that lead us to new worlds.
Initially, you have to train yourself to think this way. Practice daily by challenging your assumptions, biases, and judgements and actively look for a positive POV to view things with. Within a few weeks, your mind shifts on its own and looking for wins becomes the new norm.
Every occurrence holds both light and dark, good and bad. Your job is to override your inner fear-monger and choose to find the light.
2. Train your mind like you matter
“The fun part is finding which thoughts, in that crazy beehive of emotion, are the ones that mass produce the honey.” ― Curtis Tyrone Jones
Speaking of fear-mongers, you know the worst of all is in your own head. And when you find yourself caught in bleak, heavy emotions, the path out begins with the thoughts that feed them.
These are the thoughts that form our personal story. It’s the endless chatter about what’s going on in your world. It’s also about what could go on, what went on, what you imagined went on, your role in all the various scenarios, and how you’re better or worse that the other characters.
And if you’re stuck in negativity, you can count on it having a dark, unhappy, and heavy-hearted script.
But that doesn’t make your story true. Or written in stone.
Our stories are made from snippets of memory. Then our small ego self (monkey mind, inner critic, chatterbox, etc.) spins it into a tale to make sense of our world and our place in it.
The problem is, we identify with the narrator of the story. Without question.
But it’s not you.
And happily, when you take an honest, critical look at the narration, you’ll find most of what is says to be untrue. Its assumptions, judgements, and opinions are in fact, largely a pack of fearful fibs to keep you in your place.
As a rule of thumb, the exact opposite of what it says is typically more truthful.
The good news is that your life changes according to your story. You’re the author and you can tell, and live, any story you want. The question is, why would you tell any story where you don’t matter? Why not tell one of abundance, noble achievement, and joy?
Try out a new story for 30 days:
Before starting, note down the basics of your current story. What roles do you play most often? Are there any elements of dependency, neediness, regret, or victimization? What are some of your more limiting repetitive thoughts? How do they make you feel and behave?
To change your story, start with the lies that make you weak. These are the thoughts that diminish, limit, or shut you down and create heavy emotions.
How much of what you think and say is true? How much is false? And how much is role playing?
Where are you right now because of your story? Looking back from a mature perspective, can you find new meanings in past, painful events? Can you now see any beneficial aspects that came about because of what happened?
It may take some digging, but there’s a positive spin to everything.
When you find it, reframe the hurt and confusion from your past into something of value. Something you can use as a solid foundation to build on. Give it the purpose of lighting your darkness and use it to build a vision of your ideal future self.
Get it all down on paper. Use a journal to capture the details of your new story and future self, then hone it into a crisp, clear goal for the road ahead.
For 30 days, tell and live the story of your ideal self, doing something every day to move towards your goal – even if it’s only for five minutes.
At the end of 30 days, track and measure your progress. Note your achievements, how you feel, your confidence level, and the themes of repetitive thoughts. Compare notes with your old story then celebrate the improvements. You can’t help but improve your thoughts. And it’s fun – go for it!
3. Cultivate powerful feelings with elevated emotions
“Don’t allow your mind to tell your heart what to do. The mind gives up easily.” ― Paulo Coelho
How you think and feel determines your behavior. And it’s impossible to create a powerful, positive future when you’re stuck in the pain of heavy emotions like anger, apathy, and fear.
Creating powerful feelings is like cultivating a garden. You have to pull out the weeds, prepare fertile soil, sow the seeds of change, then nurture them with life-giving elements.
In the case of negative, heavy emotions, pulling out the weeds equates to developing an awareness of the repetitive thoughts that make you feel bad.
You prepare the soil by giving past, distressful events a positive meaning.
Seeds of change are sown by creating a compelling, exciting future vision and telling a new, positive story.
And finally, as the gardener, you must nurture the seeds with daily immersion into the feelings of your exciting, future self.
This is a key point. You first experience the powerful, elevated emotions you want, such as gratitude, love, trust, and optimism, in your imagination. This raises your personal resonance to match the energetic fields of higher states.
You can’t bring higher, elevated states down to heavy emotions for correction. You must cultivate the emotions that lift you to their vibrational frequency. And at that level, powerful energy and positive emotions are natural and easy.
Set a daily schedule of five to 30 minutes for inner creation. Jump into your new narrative, complete with elevated emotions, in the practices of journaling, meditation, and visualization.
4. Build a network of supportive allies
“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” – Plutarch
One of the most pervasive and perverse ways we resist change is by maintaining an established network of friends and peers who think the same as we do.
If conversations with your friends typically involve topics like blame, complaining about others, lack and limitation, unfairness, victimization, and so on, it’s time to pull back.
This also applies to “friends” who are belittling, jealous, or resistant to the idea of you changing.
To forge a bright new future, you’ll need to limit your exposure to, or eliminate, those people who don’t want the best for you.
I know it’s hard to ditch to old friends, but your happiness is at stake. And if they make you feel bad, their not friends at all. They’re dead weight that’s dragging you down.
Find new people who are supportive and on the same path as you at events like book readings, night classes, seminars, and workshops.
Approach those who have succeeded in your areas of interest and ask them to be a mentor. Some might brush you off, but most will be happy to listen or help.
5. Appreciate your good fortune
“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden
Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions to develop and brings a litany of benefits. From greater health to improved happiness and self-esteem, gratitude is a super-emotion. And one you definitely want in your emotional intelligence toolkit.
Keeping a gratitude journal is an excellent way to change perspective. It naturally shifts focus from your problems to the things that are already going right for you, which improves your outlook, mood, and the results you get.
Now, when you’re awash in painful, heavy emotions it can be hard to see things to feel grateful for, but they’re there. If you look for them.
For instance, if you have enough food to eat today you’re more fortunate than the 25,000 people around the world that die from hunger and related causes every day.
If you have a toilet that works, you’re better off than the 2 billion people who don’t have basic sanitation such as functioning toilets or latrenes.
And if you have clean water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, you’re luckier than the 785 million people that don’t have access to clean water close to their homes.
You get the point.
Conveniences and luxuries are not a right, they’re a gift. And they can, and do, disappear.
Lift up your eyes, stop pretending to be deprived, and start appreciating the good fortune you currently take for granted.
Because the more grateful you feel, the more you have to feel grateful for and the less room there is for heavy emotions. And besides, gratitude just feels good!
“Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.” – Rumi
There’s no escaping painful, heavy emotions. They’re a part of life.
But they don’t have to be your set point.
You can learn to use them as a valuable source of feedback to quickly correct errors and get back on the road to your happy place. And they’re an excellent tool to flip anxiety and fear while pointing out the path towards your ideal future.
Because even though they make us feel bad, they’re not out to make your life miserable.
They’re just a sign that something’s not working out the way you want it to. And when you stop running from them, you’ll recognize they hold the answers to most of your problems.
So start today. When heavy feelings make you want to bolt, practice emotional alchemy. Stop and look for the lesson, take control back.
Because it’s all for your benefit. And you can handle anything that life dishes up.
You’re blessed and fortunate and privileged. Use what you’re given and transform heavy emotions into the positive, powerful energy needed to create the life of your dreams!