In summary: Just as there is day and night, there is also joy and sorrow, anger and gloom. Yin and Yang are in all of our existence. To think about it, remember that the night has as much to offer as the day, and that it is just as necessary. What new version of unity can we come to when we embrace all that we feel and work through it skillfully?
“Al onze gevoelens en houdingen, hoe negatief ze ook mogen zijn, kunnen compassie oproepen en ons naar een transformatie leiden. Dan kunnen we ons blij realiseren dat iedere negatieve ervaring een positieve potentie tot groei bevat, dat iedere zwakte een hulpmiddel is, dat iedere schaduweigenschap een kern van waarde heeft, dat iedere verstoring of vergissing ons spirituele bewustzijn kan verdiepen … er zit in onze verwarring een energie van licht bevroren, een helderheid die we vrij kunnen laten, zolang we maar niet opgeven haar te ontaarden.”
Positive emotions conform to the style of instant gratification of modern culture. They pay right away. We try to maintain fun, joy and happiness, in their increasingly auspicious forms. But difficult emotions require patience and only give satisfaction later. The result of this satisfaction is a deeper sense of satisfaction that you cannot get from the direct experience of positive emotions.
When we look through the lens of Chinese medicine, our positive emotions fall under Yang (positive and fleeting) and transfer Yang power. Our negative, dark or troublesome emotions are Yin. It takes longer for these to give their nectar, so we have to slow down to experience them. We may have to live like outsiders for a while to reap the benefits of their hidden, more subtle powers. These Yin experiences provide a quieter inner strength over time.
A balance of Yin and Yang energy is crucial. If we only indulge in Yang emotions, we’ll burn out and plunge into an exhausted or depressed state as soon as we can’t keep up with all that excitement. This is reflected in the modern epidemic of overstrain. If we are too preoccupied with negative emotions and ignore the happier side of life, we also end up in the pit. I am not talking about staying in mourning, because that often leads to enormous rewards.
When our Yin and Yang are balanced and healthy, they support each other. If we find the balance between Yin and Yang emotions, then we can reap the benefits of both positive and negative moods. It is not difficult to see the benefits of joy, happiness, positivism, exuberance and inspiration – these are all Yang experiences. It gets harder when we try to see the good reasons for embracing our dark and troubled moods.
If we first understand intellectually why and how those difficult moods are very crucial to our well-being, it gives us reason to open up and consciously stay with them. This way we can overcome our automatic reaction and not immediately shut down and distract ourselves as soon as they bubble up. In fact, if we adapt and be patient with what is difficult, little by little that darkness transforms us into more light, a light that we cannot reach through the Yang forces alone. Only by staying with what is dark can we create more love and light out of what seems dead and miserable.
That’s why this article is dedicated to understanding the unique benefits that come with our troublesome feelings and why it’s a good idea to stick with them when they come around.
As with Beauty and the Beast , beneath the ugly appearance of our troublesome emotions, there is a fragile core of inspiration, soulfulness and renewal. They offer us what really matters by revealing what we really care about and empowering it. If we stay with these feelings long enough – that is, welcome them and let them do what they come to do (at least to a large extent) – we gain access to their hidden gems (note: this is often not the case). for mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression ).
It seems paradoxical, but this process of staying close to our problems ultimately fills us, immerses us in satisfaction. I’m convinced that if we don’t harness these emotions and let them transform us, we’re going to live torn lives. And in doing so, we are tearing up the lives of others, as well as our planet.
By staying with painful feelings and letting them change us, they pull away. The more we allow ourselves to be changed by them, the more they disappear. In fact, they pull away to the same degree that we let them change us, as if their goal is to grab our attention, make us surrender, and change us. By keeping up with and working through our anger, sadness, regret, and jealousy, we develop true compassion , courage, creativity , inspiration, meaning, purpose, empathy, and greater love—qualities I call the finer jewels of being human .
“WE DON’T TRANSFORM DIFFICULT EMOTIONS, BUT THEY TRANSFORM US. FOR THAT WE HAVE TO SURRENDER AND MAKE OURSELVES VULNERABLE; WE NEED CONFIDENCE AND COURAGE, HUMILITY AND STRENGTH, TO BE CHANGED IN WAYS BEYOND OUR CONTROL, SHAPED BY THE WILD WAYS OF NATURE EXPRESSING ITSELF IN OUR EMOTIONS. IN THIS WAY WE BECOME MORE THAN WHAT WE CAN CONTROL, OR EVEN IMAGINE. SO, IF YOU WANT TO LIVE A PASSIONATE LIFE, CLOSE TO NATURE, OPEN YOUR HEART AND HER STORMS OF WILD WISDOM WILL REVOLUTIONIZE YOU.”
Before challenges can change us, we must be vulnerable, malleable, courageous, and strong enough to endure our distorting sense of Self. For that we need a sufficient notion of who we are, our functional ego, one that can handle the adjustments or, in some cases, the complete dismantling of the notion of who we are. Therefore, the support of loved ones, and a therapist, is almost indispensable. At least they make the journey more productive and smoother.
Our dark, uncomfortable or simply terrifying emotions are the flip side of love. They are the underbelly of love, the deeper regions of our heart. We can often sense when someone has not yet entered this sacred chamber within themselves and met their life-renewing shadow, because they usually do not deal well with the emotional difficulties of others.
The way out is straight through
This article is not the place for nuanced suggestions on exactly how to deal with your difficult emotions, but I do want to briefly touch on the popular saying “don’t dwell on negative emotions.” Ironically, this is probably an outsider’s perspective, introduced and perpetuated by people who have not yet meaningfully become acquainted with their shadow. Because when we do, we learn that we have little say in how long we’ll be besieged by life’s turn-offs.
In fact, we have to hold out during these periods, even if it seems like a ‘hanging’ or an obsession, because we have nothing to say about these moods, and we don’t need to. Nor do we have to adapt to the dog show of modern life, full of disease, disorders and obsessions with productivity and positivism. But at other times we are able to get out of a dip. In those cases, at least we can do something to ease our troublesome moods, regardless of how they may ultimately benefit us.
We experience emotions in two rudimentary ways: the first is in response to distressing environmental factors, events, or situations. In those cases, it is usually safe to accept emotional cues right away. The other way to experience difficult emotions is through an inequality in physiology, such as due to a (mental) illness or other stressor. In those cases it is better to not toto listen to the voice or message of the emotion and its distorted reasoning, or at least to fully believe their outlined consequences and meaning.
For example, if you’re arguing with your partner and are annoyed that you need to eat, sleep, be alone, or just relax, it’s often wiser to just take care of yourself and not talk about it with anyone else. . Sometimes we also need to take the reins of our minds and adjust our negative thoughts, which is entirely permissible during difficult times – for example, when we keep repeating our negative thoughts.
All of these self-help actions help you “get acquainted” with feeling bad, by relieving the superficial and temporary stress that contributes to indirect emotional outbursts. After taking care of ourselves in this way, our difficulties often seem smaller and less painful. Any emotional charge or realization that remains after the introduction to this top layer of stress, we can embrace and take it to heart with more self-confidence. If we don’t take care of ourselves to let go of that everyday stress, we suffer needlessly.
“EXERCISE, DIET, HOW MUCH SUPPORT WE EXPERIENCE; THEY ALL CONTRIBUTE TO OUR PHYSIOLOGICAL STATE AND THUS TO THE DURATION AND INTENSITY OF DIFFICULT EMOTIONAL MOODS.”
The idea is to be and stay close to our deepest emotional responses to events and to manage and discharge the extra energy that comes from mental obsession and physiological imbalance. For example, I may be sad if I lose my girlfriend.
I can feel extra sad if I lay on the couch all day and don’t force myself to get up and go for a walk, eat something, or talk to a friend. We decide the latter ourselves, but not the former. In fact, we really don’t want to be able to control our grief (because only then can it act on us and change us), unless it arises unnecessarily from your physiology and/or is exacerbated by too little activity and too much stagnation.
To get in touch with our fundamental emotions, we can activate and express them (Yang), or we can slow down and gently embrace them (Yin). That’s where our jewels are hidden – when we dig, or better yet, when we let ourselves degenerate! But taking a break from digging and feeling awkward feelings is also important. That’s healthy denial, when we turn to other things to give ourselves some rest, so that later we come back to the inner work with new energy and a clear vision.
Sitting around sad all day may be remedied by taking a walk, speaking out and being heard by a friend, or getting out of your own head for a while. Feeling angry for hours can be limited by going for a run, hitting some pillows, or finding something that really makes you smile. But longer periods of mourning, for example, can stay with us for months or years. We often have nothing to say about that. We can, however, surrender to it and allow ourselves to be transformed into something we cannot imagine, by this wild wisdom in our deeper hearts.
A less sensible alternative to embracing our troublesome emotional moods is to indulge in drugs, addictions, and excessive avoidance—things that usually only cause more distress. And then we also miss the nourishing qualities, hidden in challenging emotions – our finer jewels of humanity – that we extract by embracing them. When handled with skill and support, difficult times can be fantastic opportunities for growth, finding meaning and purpose in your life, and getting rid of our demons. How we approach and handle those difficulties is just as important as how we deal with the easy times, perhaps even more important.