It feels good to be positive. But the most important thing to be ... is REAL.
I learned this lesson after many years of ignoring (for lack of a better word) my emotions. All emotions.
Back then, I embraced only what I deemed ‘positive’ and rejected anything I saw as ‘negative’ - but at the end of the day, I wasn’t really living. People saw me as a Pollyanna replica, living a constantly blessed life, but the truth is I was ignoring anything truly real and for that, I didn’t have any real relationships. I chose to see only the good, but by ignoring and never sharing what I felt was ‘bad’ - pain, sadness, anger, grief - I never allowed myself to see these as normal emotions and process them as such - and I never allowed others to grow with me through their support.
I was ignoring the opportunity to mature and grow as a human being. Ignoring my shot at building healthy relationships. Ignoring the chance to build my toolkit of healthy ways to handle the world.
There is real value in emotions.
And it is critical to understand the difference between normal emotions that come and go . . . and negativity that weaves its way into our lives and relationships and erodes happiness over time.
When we fail to process normal emotions - sadness, anger, grief, pain - we lose our ability to develop skills to deal with what the world will undoubtedly throw at us. And eventually, those normal emotions we could have processed and let go turn into embers of negativity that remain burning deep within us.
When we reject bad emotions or cling to false ‘Pollyanna’ positivity, we lose our capacity to accept the world as it is - always focusing on what we want it to be. This is often where the entitlement we see in our youth comes from, along with sensitivity, anxiety, and other ramifications of not being able to cope with the wide range of normal human emotions we feel on a daily basis.
All that said, it is important to look for the good in situations and be optimistic, but it is imperative to learn from the bad. And emotional awareness is the key.
We own our emotions, they don’t own us;
that ownership gives us control;
and YOU are the only thing you have control of in your life.
Tough emotions are part of our contract with life - you don’t get to make meaningful relationships, memories, a career or make the world a better place without a little discomfort.
As Susan David so eloquently says in her TED talk (if you have 2 minutes, watch the clip here - 16 minutes, watch the full here):
‘Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.’
When we reflexively shame ourselves or those we love out of normal emotions perceived as negative, jumping straight to a ‘fix’, rather than patiently waiting for our hearts to feel, learn and release - we deprive ourselves or those loved ones of inherently valuable lessons and opportunities to grow into vibrant, heart-felt, deep, caring, aware, alive human beings.
Be grateful for your emotions - it means you’re living. When sadness comes, embrace it, appreciate your depth, and then choose to move forward toward a potentially better day. If on this new day you must make a choice as to which path to take, what to focus on, how to operate - choose positive, choose happy, choose grateful, choose to be an emotionally aware warrior. You won’t regret it.
Love & Joy,