I’ve talked a lot in previous blogs about happiness and one’s ability to generate the feeling of happiness despite negative circumstances. While I wholeheartedly believe that we all possess the ability to increase our happiness levels, regardless of our personality type, I also realize that emotions like sadness, anger, and disappointment will not cease to exist when we reach a certain level of happiness. Nor would we want them to as every emotion, good or bad, is part of our happiness journey. It’s our ability to be with our emotions that serves as a catalyst for future happiness.
Consider for a moment that you are out in the middle of a jungle and you come across someone who is standing in a pool of quicksand. There are no ropes, tree branches, or any other object that you could use to reach that person and pull them to safety. The only way you can help them is through verbal communication. What would you say?
Believe it or not, the most important thing you could say to them would be, “Don’t fight it or you will sink even further. Try to be with the quicksand and lie flat, spread-eagled, so that you can log roll to safety.”
I know this seems counterintuitive because 99.9 percent of the time, when we step into something we want to get out of, our most effective action is to walk, run, or jump out of trouble. This is not so with quicksand.
Now imagine that you see a loved one who is extremely angry following a recent job loss. There is no magical wand that you can use to make the anger go away. The only way you can help them is through verbal communication. What would you say?
Unfortunately, it’s all too common – especially when the emotion isn’t our own – to tell others NOT to feel a certain way, which is akin to asking them to step out of the quicksand of their emotions. Although our heart may be in the right place, asking someone NOT to feel a certain way only fuels the emotion, thus giving it more power and control. Eventually, we begin the process of sinking in our emotions. I’m sure you can all relate to this.
The next time you experience an unwelcome emotion such as sadness or anger, instead of trying to walk, run, or jump your way out of it, try to simply be with the emotion. Allow yourself to feel it, void of any self-sabotage, and determine your next course of action. Every emotion has a message to share, so any attempt to avoid an emotion is also an attempt to disregard the message.