How to actually Turn That Frown Upside Down
Daily life as emotional bootcamp
We often fight against the negative emotions. We can scold ourselves for feeling sad, or attach ourselves to feeling rage. We can identify with these negative emotions. We can burden ourselves with them.
Sometimes, that´s all we know and that´s how we handle them: we don´t. We take them and use them to punish ourselves.
Think of the last time you felt like shit about something. How long did it last? Maybe you tormented yourself for hours, even for days. Sometimes it’s years until you let it go. It’s a classic movie trope that comes out every summer. It’s almost normal to cause ourselves so much unnecessary pain and suffering by holding on to negative emotions. And for what?
I was thinking about this today, reflecting on what I´d been feeling in the past . The self judging and self loathing, the never feeling like you’re enough. Doubting yourself. As you´re living a moment of negativity, you just experience the supreme SUCK of feeling inadequate or not enough, or the paralysis and fear, or maybe the rage, the sadness. You wallow in it, you roll in the mud and though it hurts. On some level, you like it.
And then at some point you snap out of it and you feel neutral or something comes along and you feel good again. And you move on. Most of the time, the bad stuff just gets buried beneath some superficial distraction, waiting to resurface.
Well, here’s a novel idea: what if you saw those moments of feeling like shit like an opportunity? I know, it sounds like some hippy bullshit… But just think about it for a second: what if you treated these shitty moments like being back in the gym or in the boxing ring? In a very real way, every time you’re feeling down you’re stepping in to spar with your ego even if you don’t know it.
What if you thought of it as being on the court for basketball practice, to train in your free throws? What if feeling like shit with something over and over actually meant you were being offered time and time again a chance to perform spiritual alchemy. We seem to think that doing it once is enough. But just like being a bodybuilder, results come with discipline and repetition. You can’t train your mind and heart with just one pushup session. So here we are, getting some tough shit to work on our grit.
And what are we supposed to be working on? You’re supposed to work on flow. On feeling, identifying, managing and letting go of your emotions. -this goes for the positive emotions too, but lets focus on the negative ones we so often deal with-
Turns out, when you´re feeling the negative spectrum of emotions you´re actually getting exposed to another opportunity to train yourself in managing negative emotions better. You get another chance to step up to the plate and swing the bat at letting the emotions simply go through you instead of identifying to them and holding on. You get a chance to turn sadness into compassion; turn rage into action, anger into empathy. Singlemindedness into perspective. Irritability into good humor and lightheartedness.
By not attaching yourself to negative emotions and allowing yourself to experience them fully you don´t just get to train your emotional muscle as you would your body with a deadlift. You also get to go deeper into the emotion, to experience it to its fullest extent. That’s part of what we’re alive for! We didn’t come to Earth to be anesthesized and comfortably numb (God I love that song), we came to live and feel.
Today I decided to chance my perspective on my past few days of where I wasn´t feeling my best. Instead of just being happy they´re gone I am thankful to them for the chance to practice letting emotions like them go. Next time, I will suffer less, learn from the situation a bit more, and get up faster. AND for how, by leaning into them and feeling them fully and letting them go I got to write from a place that is more real and honest. Isn’t that somethign we all ache for in our relations?
Give it a try, next time you feel like crap. Be thankful for your emotional jujitsu sparrign partner, and give it all you got, consciously.