Don’t feel guilty for feeling bad

“Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life”

“Choose happiness!

“Think happy, be happy”

Ah, the New Age mantras we find ourselves bombarded with which we’re encouraged to follow in order to lead a better life. We’re told that positive thinking is the antidote to all of our problems but has positive thinking become an addiction rather than a cure? Have these well-intentioned ideas which are meant to empower us actually become detrimental? I’m not condoning the power of positive thinking however the huge emphasis on it seems to have demonised negative thoughts and feelings to a point where we feel guilty for ever having them.

Messages which place such a high importance on only allowing yourself to have thoughts and feelings which are ‘positive’ neglects the fact that we cannot eradicate negative thoughts; they will occur, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Therefore the solution is not to force yourself into happiness but to take a look at why you think and feel the way you do before you can transcend to a better place emotionally.

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” – Gretchen Rubin

Since ‘positive thinking’ has become an obsession, whenever anything other than ‘positive’ arises within ourselves we judge and condemn those thoughts which as a result leads to feelings of guilt or self-blame. We perceive ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings as so ‘wrong’ that we either try to wrestle them or do everything we can to avoid them in an attempt to feel better.

We have been gifted with a vast array of feelings and emotions yet we’ve chosen to only love ourselves when we feel good. While emotional mastery is important in order to be a resilient individual and thrive in life, we’re all going to experience worry and fear at certain points in our life. Most of the time our fears are irrational but if we’re not giving ourselves the freedom to feel whatever comes up for us, how do we expect ourselves to transcend whatever is worrying us? Unless we look at those worries and realise how powerless they are, we’ll do whatever we can to avoid them and positive affirmations such as “think happy, be happy” will only cover up the issue.

“I don’t believe you should go to your garden and chant, ‘There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds,’ and think that that’s going to solve something. I’m a believer in find the weed and rip it out.” – Tony Robbins

While it’d be great if we could only accept positive thoughts and reject negative ones, if there’s a problem or you feel upset, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it. So what if we can’t always feel good or choose positivity? Keeping up appearances does more harm than good as we deny ourselves the time and freedom to simply be with whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind. Positivity is meant to be the antithesis of negativity however the extreme fixation on positivity with an intention to avoid negativity is counterproductive.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” ― Sigmund Freud

As mentioned previously, most of our negative thoughts and feelings are irrational. Our brains have evolved since the primitive days of our ancestors but we still carry survival instincts which will always be with us. Therefore instead of feeling guilty for having a bad thought or for even having a bad day, let it be. Don’t pressure yourself into feeling better because you feel guilty for feeling bad (who cares if you can’t “choose positivity” for a moment?!) Sit with the negativity for a bit, just don’t wallow for so long that you become identified with it or reactive. Once you’ve let the negativity express itself, you’ll often realise it’s simply a phantom which you can then let go of.

Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House” eloquently describes how the natural flow of every thought and emotion we posses is better off accepted rather than rejected:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond

-end-

Image credit:
W A T A R I

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Taking responsibility of your emotions is powerful

It demonstrates unconditional self love and forgiveness. You are allowed to feel sad, unhappy and tired. Instead of worrying about not looking or being attractive to others because of those negative emotions, choose to give yourself attention and listen to them. Tend to them. This act of taking responsibility demonstrates power as you take charge of yourself and give yourself room to be human. Nothing lasts forever and our emotions are seasonal too. Moments of happiness and sadness are natural and essential, we really cannot appreciate one without the other.

“You don’t ever have to feel guilty about sharing your feelings. It isn’t desperate or pathetic or weak. It’s self-care and there is nothing shameful about taking care of yourself by unloading some of the pain you carry. Your feelings are important and they matter — you matter — and if you’re hurting, you’re allowed to reach out. You’re allowed to be honest and use your voice. You’re allowed to take up space and talk about what you’re feeling. You deserve to make self-care a priority. Always.”
– Daniell Koepke

We have been taught to demonstrate a cold exterior and display as little emotion as possible since showing vulnerability means we are weak. That is not true, the longer we hold feelings in and the harder we try to conceal them, they gain more power and momentum. The effort put into resisting them enlarges them. Denial is as bad as self negligence and an act of weakness since the issue is avoided rather than faced and dealt with. If we chose to accept ourselves and weren’t always trying so hard to be strong, the inner turmoil of concealing everything would eventually dissipate better. Ignorance is bliss if you’re changing your point of focus and actually feel better doing so. If the change in focus is to escape, the problem will still creep in as fear remains a part of the motive. Often, we need to admit the problem to ourselves and trust that we can open up to those closest to us. There is no shame in having tender moments, if someone cannot respect you opening up, that is their problem. Vulnerability is not a weakness if you own it. Opening up does not always mean you’ll get hurt if you are doing so from a place of compassion and hope rather than seeking acceptance.

Learning to balance the logic of the mind and the love of the heart is important. All is well accepting and expressing emotion but one mustn’t stay trapped in reliving the same story again and again. Self pitying can become a habit and an easy one to get into. Feel and experience the emotions so that you allow yourself to move past them.

“The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgment.” – J. Krishnamurti

“A man is born alone and dies alone” – Chanakya

Today I was feeling quite down and reached out to one of my best friends telling her how sad and lonely I felt. She reminded me that we all have our days when we don’t feel strong. It seems that we beat ourselves up for feeling bad when we catch ourselves having negative thoughts, however such moments are inevitable and you’ve just got to persevere. I was feeling anger towards the man I talked about in Heartbreak and Self Worth – Part 2 as yesterday everything seemed to hit me like a ton of bricks. My beautiful older sister was there to help me out and said she realised I wasn’t actually upset enough when I had initially told her what had happened with him. She held me whilst I cried and talked it out with me.

Sometimes you just need to let others look after you and help you. That’s why we have friends and family. They are the reminders and reflections of who we really are when we lose ourselves through clouded thoughts due to circumstances and overwhelming, incomprehensible emotions. Another thing that my friend reminded me of this morning which put everything into perspective for me again was that ultimately we are our own person.

“A man is born alone and dies alone” – Chanakya

I ask myself this whenever I feel down and depressed; “When I die and look back on my life, do I want to see that I spent most of my time a victim to other people and circumstances outside of myself or do I want to see that I seized as much happiness as I could and lived in gratitude most of the time?”

Bad days are inevitable and there’s going to be times where we’re just get fed up of everything and lose morale. I got so angry last night that I shouted, “I aligned with what I wanted, I got it and now its been thrown back in my face. What are you meant to do when that happens?!” Sometimes you just have to let it all out and let the answers unfold. I guess concealing our feelings is another form of attempting to have control over life when we’ve just got to accept that we are humans and we are not perfect. Here’s a tweet I saw earlier which I’ll leave you with;

@TheGodLight: What you fight against controls you, to overcome a problem you must not fight, but lead the problem to its resolution