It’s been a great day. I woke up slowly to the sound of birds tweeting. I got to work early, ate well, laughed with my colleagues and am now seated on the bus listening to some good music making my way home.
Scrolling through my phone gallery I find a photo of my sister that makes me laugh and think to myself how lucky I am at this moment in my life. To have safe timely transport home, to have a great job, to have a lovely little home that I get to live in, to have enough money to not have to struggle and to have a family.
All of a sudden a feeling comes over me after a quick thought about certain family members who are struggling with their own battles and demons and who unlike me do not have their health or happiness and I suddenly feel sad……but not a momentary sadness. A sadness that I have felt before that comes and goes and leaves me feeling guilty. A sadness that burns my nose and cheeks and makes my eyes water. I can’t cry on the bus? But why do I feel sadness or guilt?
It’s not by my doing that they are there.
And, within minutes my lucky life becomes something that I feel bad for having.
It had been a great day, hadn’t it?
Fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and guilt.
These are just some of the negative emotions that we as human beings must learn to deal with on a daily basis. They show up in a variety of ways and sometimes catch us off guard. Sometimes they are like hot coals that we hold in our hand – burning ourselves in spite of someone else.
These are bits of ourselves that we hide. Most of us are lucky enough to have close ones that understand and bear with us when these emotions show up unannounced, knocking at the front door like some estranged friend. We always feel so terrible when we are jealous of someone else’s luck in life, or angry when someone else gets what we want, or fearful when we just can’t do the thing we want to do. But we are never really taught how to deal with these emotions that we will inevitably feel. We will feel them because of the fact that we are…..and I’m going to drop a bomb here… flawed human beings…..and we always will be.
Why do we sometimes hide these feelings? Because we feel they are wrong? There is no black and white? Even if we are completely justified and the other person has wronged us, sometimes we would rather stew in the feeling than confront them. I feel that I am like that because I perhaps don’t know what the best way is to deal with it.
What happens if we do not deal with negative emotions?
I realized a while ago that a big reason why it is so important for us as children to attend a normal school, have normal friends and experiences is because school prepares you for the working life. It builds respect for work and a work ethic (think homework). It also prepares you to deal with different situations, people and emotions. Sometimes, though, I do feel that a little more emphasis could be placed on how a particular situation- and your reaction to it- is a learning curve for adulthood.
I was one of the many teenagers that were bullied during school and I sometimes feel that because of how it was addressed followed me into adulthood. Not being able to properly confront a situation without needing to think of exactly how I am going to deal with it and all the while the frustrations of it bubble up.
When you become an adult learning how to deal with negative emotions is very important because it shapes our relationships, as well as our self-esteem. Sometimes it may feel as though anytime that there is an issue that needs to be resolved, we might shy away because we feel the only outcome of attempting to take on a disagreement would be through argument. When we feel jealous or guilty over a situation we forget that there is another way out other than continuing to feel that way.
Perhaps that is why they are called shadow emotions. Because they follow us where ever we go and until we learn how to confront them and our own fears about them they will continue to drag behind us, weighing us down.
How do you deal with your shadow emotions?