In our day to day lives, most of us try to push away negative feelings, such as anger, frustration, pain and sadness. We would much rather watch some TV, go out, socialize, shop or do anything else, just to make sure our minds are occupied enough, so there is no room left for negative feelings. I have also been this way in the past, trying to keep busy, out of fear of the negative thoughts taking over my mind. However, the negative feelings are also feelings. They sometimes just need to be felt, dealt with, so they can then be given a place in our lives, a place that does not influence us in a bad way or takes over our lives completely.
Striving for happiness can’t be about about filling your mind with only happiness, because sadness, frustration, anger and pain are also part of life. They are the feelings that need to coexist with feelings of joy, because we can feel happiness and joy even more strongly, when we are able to compare them to our sad moments. By seeing this contrast, we can observe at our very best.
Facing our negative feelings, can be quite the challenge though. It shows so clearly why we would much rather avoid them. But often this can lead to sub-conscience, unwanted behaviors and/or debilitating thoughts, that interfere with our happiness.
Here are 3 steps to help heal your negative feelings, such as pain and anger. These steps are inspired by Buddhist wisdom, modern psychology and my own ways of dealing with negative feelings. The steps are based on a mother comforting her child, when it is suffering.
It is important to be mindful during these steps, try to be as present as possible in the current moment, for example by being aware of your breathing. When you are mindful, you can focus better, which aides in the process.
Step 1: Like a mother comforts her baby when it is crying, you will need to be a comfort to your own pain/anger. When a child is suffering, much of its suffering is cured by his mother simply holding him, by his mother being aware of his suffering and her efforts to comfort him. So, let the negative feelings arise in your mind and be the one to say to yourself: ‘I am truly here for you now, it will be okay, let me comfort you’. Let this be a mantra in this moment. You can say this in your thoughts, or perhaps even out loud.
Step 2: Just like a mother comforts her child without immediately knowing the cause, during the comforting the cause of the problem is to be found, so the child can be comforted in accordance with the cause. Sometimes it’s clear what caused the pain, and it needs no further analysis. But for example, often when we are angry, this can be a defense/coping mechanism of being hurt. It is therefor important to see the root of the pain, anger or discomfort, so it can properly be confronted and comforted by your own presence, attention and care for your own feelings.
Step 3: Repeat. Doing these first two steps does not mean that your hurt or anger will disappear, that really is not the goal of these steps. By following these steps, and comforting your suffering in whatever form it comes, you will be able to lessen its impact that it has on you. Every time the negative thoughts are given attention, you will comfort them with all the compassion and comfort you have to give, and they will lose their impact more and more each time. The goal is to let them coexist with your feelings of happiness. To make sure they are not standing in the way of your happiness, but are simply a part of your journey in life.
The principle of really being able to comfort yourself and feeling true compassion, has a connection with self-love. If you are having trouble with being able to feel self-love, you might find a previous post of mine ’10 steps towards more self-love’ helpful in improving this!