The Upside of Negative Emotions (part II)

By Nicolas Gurley
Our ability to handle life and its challenges has a lot to do with the general outlook we have in life. When we believe that we deserve to have things go our way and generally expect life to be happy, we set ourselves up for disappointment, which may lead us to feeling wronged by life. The ugly truth is that recognizing that life is painful would make us much more adaptive. When we face the harsh existential realities, such as the fact that we are going to die, sooner than most of us would probably like, we thereby better prepare ourselves for the painful experiences of life.
Even though these can be some of the hardest emotions to face, we are in fact most full of life when we do not avoid them. This because we cannot fully appreciate being alive when we avoid these feelings. Allowing ourselves to feel these negative emotions can also make us realize that everybody else is in the same boat as us, suddenly making all the differences that divide us seem petty and meaningless. By not glossing over these existential realities we gain a more compassionate perspective toward ourselves and others.
What gives us meaning in life? What personal values do we hold? When we know ourselves, we can better know what we are doing in life. When it comes to interpersonal relationships it is not only important to not put up defenses against our own feelings but to also be aware of the feelings that others may be experiencing. In other words, it is important to not get so hung up on our own views that we loose sight of theirs. When we feel as though we have been hurt by someone or that we are angry at them, it is better to not let those feelings completely take over. It is better to try to take the other’s perspective to try and understand what they are feeling in the same situation. This would allow us to step back and see the bigger picture of what is going on to understand the various levels of the experience.
In order to be more resilient, it is important to stay in the moment and not let our reactions be based on past experiences. It is common for us when we get hurt or have a strong reaction to something as adults to base our overreaction on our past. Such a conflict may be triggering certain unresolved emotions from our childhood. We are especially likely to do this with the individuals we are closest to.
If you are interested in further exploring such concepts of controlling your emotional reactions and using the negative emotions you experience to your advantage please feel free to contact me at nicolas@mytherapist.info or 917-525-2205 x9.

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