It is easy to be happy and content with our lives when there’s nothing bad happening. When everything is calm or when we’re away on holidays having the time of our life, it’s not difficult to be positive and look at things optimistically. But then something happens, something that we cannot control, something that makes us feel frustrated, upset or even angry. How can we keep that positivity in us when fighting the inner war of overwhelming emotions?
I believe there are two steps to gradually overcome the tendency to let ourselves and all we believed in get torn in one second when our lives seem to fall apart. First of all, it’s crucial not to try to push away or block the emotions that we find ourselves flooded with. The problem is, whenever we try to stop feeling something, it only gets reinforced or even if we manage to put it aside, it comes back reinforced in the moment we least expect and causes us to totally break down (especially if we keep on doing this for a long time). If we, however allow ourselves to feel sad or to cry, we may often find that these feelings stop losing their power over us. We let them out of our system instead of stuffing them deeper into our subconscious to haunt us. It’s important to remember that we’re not emotionless robots and our lives do not happen in a void. We constantly interact with other people whose behaviors we cannot possibly control. This means that sooner or later we will get hurt, upset or frustrated. And it’s okay. That only shows we’re human. We feel things. We couldn’t feel love, joy or gratitude if we didn’t feel anger, sadness and frustration from time to time as well. It’s impossible to separate these things because they’re all equally emotionally-charged states.
However, only letting ourselves feel those emotions is not enough. After all, if we’re furious with someone, we do feel the urge to do something about it. And it often frustrates us that we don’t really know what exactly to do about it. The key here is not to try to act out on the negative emotions but rather work through them. In our mind or if possible on a piece of paper, we need to try to get to the core of these emotions and respond to them with the rational part of our mind. Asking ourselves questions, such as ‘What emotions do I feel?’, ‘Why do I feel them?’, ‘Why did this situation upset me so much?’, ‘If this happened to my best friend, what would I say to her/him? What steps would I recommend to them to help them get over it?’. By asking these questions and then rationally evaluating the assumptions that we have made in our mind that led us to feel the way we do, we’re effectively changing the perspective. We no longer look at these emotions as our own but rather observe them from above, as if they were a case study for us to evaluate. This alone weakens them and often helps us realize that the only thing that really awakened these emotions were the irrational interpretations we ourselves created in our minds.
Staying composed and optimistic even when life puts us down is not easy and requires a lot of practice. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth it to learn to look at life’s events from a higher perspective and not let ourselves just be the helpless leafs at a mercy of life’s torments. Because even though it’s impossible to never experience negative feelings, it’s perfectly feasible to weaken their strength and thus prevent them from impacting negatively other areas of our lives.