“Don’t be afraid,” “Have no fear,” “Fight your fright;” does any of these expressions sounds familiar? We heard these often as children, tried to embrace the notions as young adults, and later in life, we may find ourselves teaching these to our own kids. Yet, for many, if not most of us, in one form or another, fear is still there. Denying it doesn’t make it magically vanish.
How about, “Don’t be angry,” “Conquer your fury,” “Calm down,” words typically uttered at us while we are in a fit of rage? It’s like telling a wild fire to obediently just put itself out… What is it with us denying emotions we feel are undesirable?
Consider our spite for sadness, feeling down or, God forbids, confused…
Negative feeling are, well, negative. And we want to be positive, don’t we? Shouldn’t we?
Isn’t that our birthright? To roam the Earth like it is the Garden of Eden; like we were never expelled.
The other day is occurred to me that it is okay not to be afraid of being afraid.
Just like that. Neither to be angry at being angry, nor even feel sadness at being sad.
Here is what I reckon: if I am already angry and realizing it, I would not make the fury go away by getting even more upset at how I feel. Thus the first thing I can do is rid myself of the negative attitude towards, well, negativity. That leaves me only with working on the root cause of the issue that started my then-current state, to begin with. It is already a lot better than dealing with the additional unnecessary layers, added by my social conditioning about how I should feel about how I feel.
Similarly, if I feel fear and now have to amass atop of it also guilt for feeling that way, well, that doesn’t help one bit.
That aside, what we consider as “bad feelings,” have their place in our world. When our beloved pet passes on, sadness is only natural. Grief is a way in which the mind purges itself from an overwhelming weight that, at times, can be unbearable. When we do not act on such emotions, these well up inside us, resulting in long-term ramifications such as an expression of other undesirable emotions, including anger. Much along these lines, turned out I never really grieved my father’s passing at a young age. There was no time, no guidance, and no social acceptance. I moved on to become an adult, and that grief turned into buried fear and anger. It took me an anguished journey into total darkness to release that concealed weight; a burden I should have let go so many years ago.
Negative emotions are part of life, much like the rain, as inconvenient as it can be at times, is not something we can do without. Even a wild fire has its place; clearing space for new growth. Each such emotion can also be a wise teacher – with fear guiding us to avoid dark alleys at night, where trouble may lie in wait; and anger, motivating us to protest social injustice, or simply tell us our ego is inflated. Thus rather than trying to ignore, or even block, such strong emotions, I now try to embrace it, explore, and ask, “what is the meaning of this?” And then, once I learn whatever that feeling that arose in me came to teach, I practice the art of letting go and moving on.
Learned from: a journey’s afterthought