Are there any benefits in embracing your negative thoughts and feelings?
It was something I pondered after a difficult conversation with my ex-husband where I felt triggered by a comment that started a tsunami of negative thoughts and reminders of why we are no longer together. I honestly thought I could forgive and forget, but each morning I would lie in bed and think about all our past conversations, the dreadful financial decisions we made together and how our marriage imploded.
In today’s society, people are often told to be positive. It’s a common belief that if you think positively, then good things will come your way. However, this isn’t always the healthiest mindset to have. We should aim to be authentic and honest with ourselves, and this means that we will sometimes have negative thoughts and feelings. These shouldn’t be ignored or buried, but instead should be acknowledged and dealt with in a healthy way.
The first step in dealing with these negative thoughts and feelings is to accept them. If you deny your true feelings, then it becomes a lot more difficult to deal with them. In some cases, people might become obsessed about what they’re feeling as they continue to repress it. It may also cause mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
People often feel that they need to act happy if their comments or opinions reflect negatively on them. For instance, you might say something like ‘I hate the weather today’, but then quickly follow up your statement with something like ‘but it could be worse’ even though this isn’t really true at all. You could replace this statement with a completely honest one, such as ‘I hate the weather today – it’s too hot and humid for my liking.’
If you have friends who are always trying to talk you out of being negative, then it’s likely that they don’t understand your true feelings or how it makes you feel. It’s okay for somebody to say ‘I don’t like this weather – I wish there was some wind or sun here.’ In fact, it might even be beneficial as it helps the person to recognise their preferences and express them accordingly.
In some cases, people try to deny that they have any negative thoughts or feelings. For instance, they might say something like ‘I’m always happy. I don’t ever feel sad or unhappy with my life.’ This is a lot less common than the opposite, but it happens from time to time. If somebody believes that there aren’t even any negative thoughts or feelings inside of them, then they’ll find it difficult to actually deal with these emotions.
It’s important to remember that our minds are constantly thinking. Even if you don’t think about anything negative, there will still be some negative thoughts and feelings in the back of your mind. It could just be something simple like ‘I hope I don’t mess up this presentation later on.’ Nobody is immune to these thoughts; they are completely natural, and everyone experiences them at some point or another.
So how can people begin to deal with their negative thoughts and feelings?
Firstly, it might be helpful to understand that even if you have negative thoughts, this doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. Everyone experiences these thoughts, but not everyone acts upon them. This means that you need to recognise your feelings, and then do some soul searching in order to understand why you feel this way about certain situations or people. For instance, if somebody had the thought ‘I hate my boyfriend’, then they might consider why they feel this way towards them. They could come to the realisation that ‘I don’t really trust him or his friends, so maybe I need to talk to him about this issue in order for our relationship to survive.’
Confronting your negative thoughts and feelings can be quite scary. You might feel that you will lose control or that it’s just too much to handle. However, this is often a lot easier than people expect as once you acknowledge the thoughts and feelings, they’ll slowly fade away.
People might compare themselves to someone who always seems happy and positive. If you have a friend who always posts selfies on Facebook of them grinning from ear to ear, then it can be easy to feel that there’s something wrong with you. In most cases, the people in these types of photos are just looking for attention or validation from their friends and family.
In fact, it could be helpful to speak to your friends and family about the negative thoughts and feelings you have so that they can better understand you. If people don’t know what is going on inside of your mind, then it might be difficult for them to support you with it. Bear in mind that most people will accept this as another part of who you are; not everyone is going to reject or judge you for it.
It’s okay to go through some negative thoughts and feelings; nobody is perfect, but we can all learn from these experiences. When somebody reflects upon a period of time in their life, they might think ‘I learned so many new things during this time and I grew as a person because of it.’ This means that even the most difficult periods of our lives can be worth it in the end because we learned things that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. If people had never experienced any negative thoughts or feelings, then they would miss out on lots of these lessons and opportunities!
Remember to take care of yourself during these difficult times. You might need additional help from a professional or somebody who has been in your position before. There’s nothing wrong with speaking to somebody else about the issues that you are going through, and it can often feel liberating when somebody else understands how you’re feeling.
Take a step back and review yourself in order to find out what you want to change so that the next time you go through something similar, you can prevent it from happening again. This process is known as self-reflection and it’s a valuable tool in improving yourself .
Remember that negative thoughts and feelings are completely normal parts of being human! Try not to compare yourself to others and remember that you are not alone!
Fiona Craig is a life coach, psychotherapist, business mentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.
Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217
Image: Ben White @ Unsplash