In a previous article, we talked about paying attention to your feelings and your emotions, and about trying to figure out what message your emotions hold for you instead of merely reacting to them. This time, let’s take a closer look at some emotions that most people think of as undesirable, and see what they are perhaps trying to tell you.
There are four core “negative” emotions – fear, anger, guilt, and sadness/grief. Most of the time, these emotions don’t make us feel very good. Some people react by burying and denying the negative emotion, some lash out at others, some withdraw into themselves – in any case, for most people, this type of emotion is something they try to avoid.
Becoming aware of these emotions is an essential part of learning to respond, not react, to them. It is helpful to think of these emotions as being signals for you, blinking yellow lights telling you to slow down and figure out the message that they’re sending you.
All of these so called “negative” emotions are a sign to make an adjustment – if you just remember that, you’ll be well on your way to becoming aware of their messages for you. So let’s look at the four core “negative” emotions and what they might be trying to tell you.
Fear is a means of self-protection/preservation, and also, a way to find out what you love. When you’re afraid, look at what you fear losing, and you’ll learn about your values, as well as the attachments you have in life.
Anger is born out of love of self or others. When you’re angry, it’s because you feel that someone or something is somehow a threat to yourself or someone or something you love or value.
Guilt helps you decide who you are. You feel guilty when you say or do something that goes against who you want to be, or who you think you should be. So guilt allows you the chance to discover more about yourself and to change your behavior to fit with the “ideal you.”
Sadness and grief help you remember your vulnerability in this world. They keep things in perspective and give you the opportunity to grow. They also teach you about what’s valuable to you, and help you learn more about how to appreciate life.
So next time you experience a “negative” emotion, take a moment to reflect, and then respond consciously instead of reacting as you usually do. And, pause for a moment to give thanks for the gift of the opportunity to learn and grow.
Jaime Sabbatini is a Certified Professional Life Coach with special training in Energy Leadership™ and Core Energy Process™ and creator of Thought Mapping and Strategy Smart. To consider hiring her as your coach, set up a free consultation to discuss what's keeping you stuck in your life and how you can work together to move you forward.
(E Factor Newsletter April 2009 – The Gift of “Negative” Emotions)