It’s no wonder so many of us get stuck in the swamp of pessimism, and distractions. Life is challenging! The first necessary step is to actually acknowledge that we are in pain. This sounds incredibly simple, yet so many people choose to fight their symptoms rather than committing to understanding them. But here’s the secret. You ready? “Negative” emotions are not something you need to fight or fix any more than you’d need to fight or fix your immune system as it tries to ward off an infection. The reality is, is that the things we struggle with the most are our greatest sources of empowerment.
I see a lot of hashtags all over social media that seem to put a spotlight on our resistance to pain, like #fightanxiety and #warondepression. And while it’s totally understandable to want to conquer them quickly and hopefully painlessly, thoughts and emotions are not something to be battled and conquered. They don’t need to be fought, but rather acknowledged, listened to and respected.
Because this process has not exactly been front and center of modern mental health movements, committing to your own healing can seem daunting and hopeless. Few people have truly learned how to welcome their painful, suppressed emotions, listen to what they have to say, and come out the other side stronger, wiser and more truly in alignment with who they are.
Here’s the thing: True healing doesn’t look cool. It’s not a fighting and a conquering, True healing requires vulnerability and radical honesty with yourself. The truth is, your “negative” emotions that you have been ignoring, judging harshly, or fighting to get rid of are simply messengers. Your “negative” emotions are ON your side, NOT against you.
There are often several layers of limiting beliefs and fears in our subconscious yet all we ever see are the surface symptoms that show up in the form of depression, anxiety, resentment, fear,bitterness and so on. Like so many of you reading this, I spent much of my life trying to fight or run from my emotions until I learned a much more effective approach: listening to my emotions.
So, if “negative” emotions shouldn’t be fought, ignored, run from or harshly judged, how do we actually heal? While healing is not a one size fits all and each of our journeys may take different forms, here are four concepts that have made a huge transformative impact on my journey.
1. Listen to your Thoughts.
This is the simplest first step you can take. Every time you feel a “negative” thought pop up, no matter what it is, make time that moment to just stop and listen. Actively quiet your mind and let the emotion have space to express itself.
If you prefer, you can also write all your current emotions. What are you currently struggling with? Let that particular emotion speak. A lot of time just getting your thoughts on paper and out of your head will lessen the charge of the emotion and present you with some clarity.
2. Ask questions.
Ask yourself what is this emotion trying to tell me, (is it fear, low self-worth, lack of trust, etc.) or what is really going on here? With focus, and practice, can be surprisingly easy to get answers from your subconscious mind. As soon as these emotions are given time, space, attention, and unconditional love, they waste no time revealing what you need to know.
Maybe the message is simply that you need more time in your day to rest, or that you need to leave a job or relationship. Whether big or small, the guidance you receive will help you shift your life in a way that is more in alignment with who you are. This is the beginning of true healing.
3. Practice gratitude for your emotions. Thank them for showing up
This is probably the most challenging thing on the list. Your emotions really are guiding you and alerting you to what is out of alignment in your life. Left unchecked, our emotions can be like a toddler throwing a tantrum. If we don’t listen, the louder and angrier they become.
Once you literally start to notice how your emotions are just signaling you toward solutions, it becomes much easier to feel grateful for them and trust them! When they do show up, a simple “thank you” will almost immediately lessen the intensity of whatever emotion you are experiencing. This step took me a bit of practice, but over time I found that I could have gratitude for even my most painful emotions without any effort, faking or forcing.
4. Commit to yourself.
When I look back, I see that most of my time was spent desperately trying to rush to the “perfect” life. I wanted to magically arrive at a place where I had no emotional or physical issues, and everything looked perfect on the outside. I was committing to everyone else’s needs, wants and desires around me somehow thinking that my value, worth and happiness was dependent on others’ acceptance. It was during these periods that I felt the most lost, dissatisfied and in pain. The game changer for me was when I realized that it’s only the world on the inside of me that truly, deeply matters.
Committing to yourself means you have decided that no matter what, you’ve got your own back. You will be disciplined with yourself and will not try to skip out on progress and growth for a quick and easy “fix” (sorry, true growth cannot be hacked, fast tracked or a rush job). You will no longer try to appear perfect from the outside and you will give yourself permission to be real, raw and vulnerable with yourself. Once you fully commit to yourself, true healing will occur in the deepest depths of your being leading to deeper awareness, fulfilment, empowerment and inner peace.
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I would love to hear your thoughts!